(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.

(106) The shadow side of mourning

The loss of a dear one

The shadow side of mourning? Is there a light one then? Everything is relative, you could see it as the difference between dusk with a brilliant sunset and the oncoming night as the shadow side.

The mourning process about the loss of a loved one can become complicated, without talking though about complex mourning. No, about a form where many things play a role in the periphery of mourning. That I call the shadow side of mourning. A form that can lead you to deferred mourning and everything in between.

Mourning, imaged as a sunset

When you consider a sunset as an image for a mourning process, then mourning is limited to the processing of the loss of a loved one by you and by you only.

The image of the sunset is not just about the (sometimes) difficult moments in your life … but also including those great moments that you shared together. It’s about a life, that when someone asks you if you would be willing to live that life all over again … including all those sad and great moments … your answer would be an immediate yes!

It maybe is a meagre consolation, but the deeper the grief the greater the love that existed between you. At the moment of realization, it doesn’t console you though … because the other one isn’t there anymore and you can’t give him or her a hug or a kiss.

The shadow side of mourning

The shadow side of mourning is about a loss that can become an even greater one by aspects that play a role in the periphery of the grieving person.

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Besides the loss of your loved one, you will also have to deal with aspects that are the result of how others manage the same loss. A disagreement between family members during the preparations for the memorial service could cause this … or just after that. Or the handling of the inheritance became an issue … and consequently, family ties could be lost. The so-called “glass door” effect for mourners results to the loss of friends. After the memorial service of your dear one, almost everyone promises to invite you. Only a handful honour their promise though.

The loss of a dear one might even lead to anger. Anger because you are so sorry that your last words didn’t reflect not even close what you felt for the other. You may feel abandoned because you now must deal with all those things and issues your loved one always did. You may find out secrets about your dear one that were hidden from you all the time. It could be even that your anger turns into hatred.

You may feel compelled or even forced to take over the position in the company of your loved one. A position you never wanted to have because you don’t have the knowledge or skills. But now you should do so.

When the shadow side plays an important role in your loss, then mourning becomes convoluted. It’s clear though, like everyone else, that only you can process your mourning. But that is not to say that a helping hand can’t be offered … a helping hand in the form of support or guidance.

Finding support … but how?

Support and guidance should primarily be directed to raise awareness and the understanding of what is happening to you (in other words, to understand the parts of your puzzle) at that moment; and what parts are important to you; and what could be done to resolve those parts of your puzzle.

Secondly, you should find out what parts of your puzzle could be resolved by yourself or by somebody else. And, not to forget, why and for which items of your puzzle support or guidance would be required. As normally would be the case knowledge and experience are important factors, but with grief or bereavement trust is the most important factor. The rule of thumb that should be used is: “When in doubt, out!”

Personally, I find it important that the grieving person should become self supporting as soon as possible. That means that all assistance or guidance provided is only of (very) short term nature!

Afterword

Mourning is not just about the loss of a loved one. Parallels could also drawn for mourning as a result of a treatable but incurable disease up to and including a malignant terminal disease.

(105) Modern Heroes

All who tackle difficult situations, or a life-threatening illness. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t… but they keep going!

This time the blog is devoted to modern heroes. It’s about all those who fight to turn the tide of the situations they’re in … or fight the serious or life-threatening illness they have. It is a battle of perseverance. Sometimes it works … sometimes it doesn’t … But despite all the setbacks, they keep going. They are incredibly beautiful and especially powerful people who are a shining example for all of us! Yes, they are certainly heroes!

Heroes … others sometimes call them stars. You don’t notice them! You don’t hear them! And yet you come across them every day.

What follows is not a fairy tale, it’s a harsh reality

As an example, there was the daughter who asked her mother if she could give her the name of a modern hero for her school project and also explain why he is a hero. It was not a question that the mother could answer immediately. The mother asked me if I could help her and in a whim I had an answer for her.

The mother was divorced and had to take care of her children on her own. The alimony was not really regularly paid to her by the father. Well, there you are. What now?

In order to survive, the mother decided to start her own business with a service that suited her. For that it was necessary to follow a few courses. She had to … in her opinion … and she managed it with a lot of perseverance.

Just when the company started running, the mother became ill. The diagnosis she eventually received was that she had cancer. It was a form that was treatable and benigne … but still … there was the fear.

The answer to her question was that every time the mother looked in the mirror … that in my opinion she looked at a hero. Despite all the difficulties, all the grief and the fear if things would be fine … she had managed to start a business so that she could take care of herself and her children … and that she had recovered from her illness, although it was still vaguely present in the background. That makes her in my eyes … a hero! Easy to say afterwards … but you need to realize that the mother had to go this long path all by herself.

Around us there are many more heroes like her

You meet heroes every day. These are people who are seriously ill and, above all, who don’t want to show that to others … don’t want to talk to others about it … not wanting to burden others with their grief. If only for avoiding sympathy, or to prevent others from consciously or unconsciously avoiding them … because those others are scared or don’t know how to cope with it themselves.

All these heroes … as if they have a short fuse … quickly notice whether the interest of the other person is meant … is real! They quickly see throuh all kinds of stories that make no sense.

These heroes also avoid conversations where other people say what they have been through, is it not with themselves then with somebody else but worse … many times worse. Sometimes it even goes so far that in their opinion our hero exaggerated. Whatever you think of this… it’s never a competition!

Many people consciously or unconsciously avoid our heroes. Maybe it’s because the other person’s illness is scary … and one wants nothing to do with it … or one comes into contact with a side of life that one is afraid of … a side of life where maybe death plays a role … a side where very different norms and values are important than success, beauty and status.

A personal opnion… or yet it isn’t

Personally, I think it is sad that people avoid these heroes. That way they miss the opportunity to meet … incredibly beautiful and above all powerful people … people who are a shining example to all of us!

For that reason alone I am eternally grateful to my daughter Anne Birgit for putting me on the path of the Mourn & Grief Foundation. Yes, forever … because no matter how much energy, pleasure and gratitude I have received from my clients and teams in my former professional life, that is almost nullified by the attention and gratitude I receive from our heroes.

To all these heroes … Chapeau!