The Gift of Grief

In our society, you are revered when you ‘don’t let your emotions get the best of you.”  Grief is rarely talked about openly and is considered taboo. The average bereavement time a person receives after the loss of a family member is around 3 days and that might be generous. Three days is just enough time to attend the funeral/memorial services but not enough to mourn, yet we are expected to return to our jobs and lives without missing a beat and be fully functional. The loss of a family member is a devastating experience that alters a person for the remainder of their lives.  Grief can encompass many losses in your life such as divorce, loss of a job, house or a stage of life.   Even with good changes, there is still a feeling of sadness and loss of what was.  Grief is relative.  Some people say that divorce is like a death, and it is in the aspect that your hopes and expectations die, such as of growing old with your partner and being a support to one another.  However, with the change and death of a relationship, you still have a choice on how you want your Ex to be a part of your life going forward. When you lose a family member to actual death, you have no choice.  You have no choice on burying the hatchet in the future, sharing time or a conversation with each other, or co-parenting.  These are all choices that you still have, whether you choose to exercise them or not.

We don’t talk about grief, unless it comes in the form of a divorce or loss of a job, things we know we can replace.  Your grief will unknowingly make people uncomfortable.  It’s easier for people to digest the loss of a job, house or relationship because they often come with inspirational sayings such as, ‘when one door closes another one opens,’ or ‘you’ll get a better job, there’s someone better suited for you out there’ and on and on.  But, when you lose someone to death, the people around you won’t know what to say or what to do, some may even disappear from your life.  As you attempt to step outside of your grief for a brief moment and into your old routine seeking some normalcy or respite from your new reality, people may wonder ‘how can they do (that),’ ‘why aren’t they at home grieving,’ ‘there’s no way I could do that?’  This will  have little to do with you, and more to do with the person’s difficulty and inability in dealing with the enormity of the situation and sometimes their own emotions. The secondary experience of grief may feel too intimate, too real for someone in your orbit.  I don’t necessarily think this is a fault, it is just a response, some people just can’t be present to another person’s pain or because they can’t take your pain away and fix it.  Grief can make the people around you take stock in their own lives, questioning what is real and worthy in their own lives and this is uncomfortable for most everyone regardless of the circumstances that precipitated it.

Elizabeth Kubler-Ross has identified the 5 stages of grief, but know there is no right or wrong way to grieve there is only your way. The stages of grief are fluid.  You might stay in one stage much longer than other stages, you may go back and forth between the stages and right when you think and feel you’re at the tail end to acceptance, you might circle right back to the beginning stage during your grief. Because of this, grief can feel like it’s The Never-ending Story or Groundhog Day the movie only not a fantasy nor funny. Grief isn’t linear and if you think it is, you are being a disservice to yourself and others.


One thing for sure is that grief will change you in some may. One never really heals from the loss, instead you accept the circumstance.  To ‘heal’ would suggest that you are the same as before the loss, that you will never feel the pain or think of the loss.  You may be able to organize the loss in such a way that it ‘makes sense’ to you, but you can’t really go back to who you were prior to losing someone close to you.  The term, “Time Heals All Wounds’ really isn’t true.  What Time gives you is the opportunity to accept the reality of the loss and get comfortable with not seeing, hearing, speaking to or sharing milestones with your loved one.

The loss of a loved one can set the stage for self-examination and can be an opportunity to re-evaluate what is important to you.  What you value may become crystal clear to you and others.  This is the biggest gift because the loss may propel you to live as authentic and honest as you want. Forget about living via the constructed expectations of society, family, friends, or self.

Loss will change you, even when you think it hasn’t.  The experience of losing someone you love is traumatic and therefore will alter you in some way. You will be changed regardless of how much you want to be yourself prior to the loss. Loss is experienced viscerally in the depths of your nervous system. The bigger the shock the bigger the trauma. Put it in simpler terms, shock gets experienced by your body (nervous system) and becomes registered in your long-term memory. Once an overwhelming experience becomes locked in your long-term memory, you register it as trauma. Because this trauma is recorded in the limbic system, your behavior may change based on subconscious experience.  For instance, abandonment and trust issues may be amplified.  Such as, ‘I don’t (subconsciously) trust you to be here for me, you will leave me, I can’t rely on you.’  Have compassion for yourself.




The loss of a family member is devastating, even when a loved one has lived a long life. To lose a parent is tantamount to losing the foundation beneath you. You are having to grapple with the loss of your life-long and unconditional support/love and not being ‘taken care of’ any longer even though you’ve been self-sustaining for years and also have your own family. To lose a child, well, I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy.  To lose a sibling is like losing your childhood, your camaraderie.

For myself, the loss of my brother in my teens changed me and family. It is no wonder that I became fascinated with psychology with ‘what makes people tick’ and spirituality with ‘what does all of this mean?’ in a search to answer my own internal questions.  Since the loss, what I value most is Time, family and real, honest conversations.  I value the time that I have and others take to spend together, however mundane.  I also value deeper conversations with others, so I have little interest in the superfluous conversations.  Money, things, jobs I can always replace, but I can never get back Time to spend with my brother.


What or whom have you lost?

What do you value most now?


Know that:

You will laugh again, for real.

You will feel joy again.

Your life may change to exemplify what is truly important to you.

Your empathy may increase.

Remember to:  Be patient with yourself. To love yourself. To have compassion for yourself.


The Surrogate Spouse

Recently, The New York Times flubbed and called Ivanka the wife of her father.  An honest mistake, some people say, while others may think this was premeditated.  Immediately when I saw that in the news, I thought ‘yep, surrogate spouse.’  The New York Times may have made a mistake but they actually called out a dysfunctional family dynamic that impacts many children and later, adults.  Usually family dynamics are played out in dramatic fiction in TV shows or movies, but with this WH administration (family) we get to see family dynamics play out in real life and not a scripted ‘reality’ show.  We get to observe what it looks like to have a father, husband, and co-worker who is a narc, and it’s educational.

What is a surrogate spouse?

The parent uses the child to fulfill his/her own emotional needs.  Some therapists also call this Emotional Incest, which is a ‘harsher’ term for people to swallow, grapple with or acknowledge that they were or still are a surrogate spouse.  Please hear,  children don’t know nor do they have a say in this dynamic. Adults often don’t realize that they are playing the role of spouse because this is all they’ve known since childhood.

What creates a surrogate spouse? Remember this begins in childhood, but it begins within the dysfunctional marriage/relationship between ADULTS.   Let’s say the narcissist (husband) loves to work and travels for work so much so that he buries himself into work creating a distance within his marriage.  That’s not the only reason, throw in consistent infidelity and verbal abuse (constant criticisms and expectations) and his wife will begin to distance herself for self-preservation.   Over time, there is a division between husband and wife and the kids pick up on it.  When the husband is away working, traveling, using alcohol, drugs or with multiple women, the wife (or husband) is left with the family/kids.  This division creates teams, with the spouse and kids on one end and the narc on the other.  (Ivanka’s mother has stated Trump didn’t want anything to do with the children while they were small.  We can also see this with his child (she’s a young adult) from his second marriage as well as his third with Melania.  As they are not in his family business, you rarely see Trump with these kids unless there’s a photo op.)  So, while the narcissist spouse is out doing exactly what they want when they want, their spouse is left with the family.  You’re married but not really married because it’s not a partnership.  The spouse becomes lonely.  

Here’s where Enmeshment comes in.

Like narcissism, Enmeshment is a continuum. Enmeshment is a subject on its own, but it’s basically a relationship between parent and child that has little to no boundaries, which means a child can be enmeshed in various ways and can be enmeshed by both parents.  You can be enmeshed through working for the family business, having to live into and up to the expectations of the dominant (controlling) parent ( in this case Trump).  You can be enmeshed by becoming (or rather used) as your parent’s confidant and emotional caretaker.

Let’s continue with the example.  Once the spouse becomes lonely, she (he) will confide in their child(ren)    leaving the child to take care of his/her parents feelings. Maybe the spouse confides that she/he is unhappy in the marriage because their father/mother are never around.  Maybe the spouse begins to rely on his/her children for advice and emotional comforting.  The spouse may also rely on their child by doing things with their child because their husband/wife is unavailable (like going out for a meal/movie/travel) that the spouse really wants to experience.  Instead of cancelling the plans,  going alone or with friends, the spouse instead takes their child/children.   How often do you think Trump’s wives travelled solely with their children, without Trump in tow?

As a child/teen, a surrogate spouse, may provide advice, counsel and be the confidant to their parent regarding dating, relationships, sex and household responsibilities.  This can look like the parent confiding to their child how miserable they are in their marriage and how their spouse is ‘never’ around or available.  This can also look like a parent confiding in their child/teen about their sex life or dating life, asking for advice and opinions on partners or even asking/expecting the child/teen to keep secrets of infidelity.  These are adult subjects and behaviors that should be discussed between adults and specifically between spouses.  (It was reported that Ivanka once told her father as a teen not to date anyone younger than her.  Clearly, Ivanka knew certain information and insight into her father at an early age.). Being a surrogate spouse is not really a good or beneficial role for a child or adult child to play.  This role can come between marriages, with adult surrogate spouses more concerned and playing the husband or wife to their parent rather than their own spouse. Therefore, creating the pattern all over again in their own family system. 

Here’s what I see, Ivanka is clearly the favorite and her Dad would probably do most anything for her (have you noticed in the media that his sons are basically in the background while Ivanka and her husband take front and center?).  It’s ironic, I know, but how his daughter views him is extremely important, so Trump is probably more willing to bend in the direction of his daughter.  He wants to be seen in a positive light by his daughter.  Yes, it’s still about image, his image.

However.  Here is the plus for us, the people of these divided United States.  Ivanka has played and does play the surrogate spouse to her father.  You can see this through her campaigning for her father, doing interviews on behalf of her father, attending women’s conferences and sitting in on ‘Heads of States’ functions, duties usually designated for wives and First Ladies.  Ivanka is now an adviser to her father, which sent many people and the media in an uproar.  Anyone familiar with family dynamics and narcs will know that this is NO surprise.  Narcs don’t trust, so to employ his family as advisors is only predictable. However against I am with employing family members in the WH simply because it reeks of the emperor-dictator vibe,  I am slightly relieved that Ivanka is officially his confidant and here’s why.  She is the one person her father will listen to.   Ivanka can tell her father No without him going ballistic on her and he is likely to listen to her advice, which I do think and hope is more humanistic than her father’s (or Bannon’s).  Her advice may not all be good, but I bet you, her father would be more likely to make changes in his staff and to his decisions based on her advice.  He may think in the Now, as in how does this benefit me now, while she may think in legacy terms as in how will this look upon us in the long-term.  We’ll see tho…..


It really does take a village….

“You can tell the wealth of a nation/country by how well its women and children are treated.”

Ok, I don’t remember who said this, but this quote speaks volumes.  The connection between mother and child is paramount to your development.  Needless to say, your development impacts society as a whole.  Our connection to our mothers has been found to impact our overall current and long-term health and well-being. Studies have linked stress levels in children to obesity, diabetes, heart disease, depression, anxiety and addiction (Neil Schneiderman, Gail Ironson, and Scott D. Siegel).  This is not to negate the role of fathers, by any means. Fathers are, of course equally important (we’ll get to that later in another post), but the focus is on women today due to 1. Women being the ones actually carrying to term and giving birth and 2. Women still being the majority primary care-giver.  Because the connection between mother and child is paramount to development, we must look at the environmental factors that can impact this bond or connection.  BTW, environmental factors don’t start for the child when they are birthed, it begins in utero, but that’s another post also.  There’s so much stuff to get to!

Sustained subtle stressors = trauma.  Overwhelming stress = trauma. Stress and trauma impacts you, because it impacts/impacted your development in some way. If stress and trauma impacted/impacts you, your relationships and your health (mental, emotional, physical) are all also impacted.   In a nutshell, environmental factors and your connection with your mother (and father) impact your health, work and relationships

In this country, we have been conditioned to think in terms of  ‘I,’ ‘Me,’ ‘My’ and ‘Mine.’ We think about how something (system, experience) or someone can help or hinder Me and My family. We don’t think about how a system, circumstance or experience will impact the ‘We,’ ‘Us,’ or ‘Our.’ This is the reductionist, individualist, competitive social society that doesn’t fully foster or allow for Connection. However, Connection (attachment) is about all of us as connection contributes to the strength and health of a nation (society).

We’ve read of studies about connection as it relates to loneliness and the negative effects on physical health and an increase in depression.  Studies have indicated that the stress and trauma a child experiences can contribute to their physical, mental and emotional health as an adult. Stress and trauma can contribute to the rise of addiction, obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. In addition, stress and trauma have been linked to anxiety, depression and other mood disorders (Neil Schneiderman, Gail Ironson, and Scott D. Siegel). Our healthcare system is and has been at a crux with the increase of obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and stroke being among the top ten killers as well as the increase of drug/alcohol use and addiction contributing to a rise in death rates primarily among White Americans. These are for the most part, preventable diseases.

If we as a society began to view parent-child connections (relationships) and the systems that can support the relationship as a necessity to the long-term productivity, success and health of our society, then we (society) can begin to alter our long-term health and healthcare system through preventative care. The probability of obesity, heart disease, diabetes and addiction would likely be reduced, due to the reduction of stress endured, therefore reducing the long-term need and long-term cost of maintenance band-aid healthcare.

I don’t know who the Artist is to give credit.

What systems (communities) impact the connection (relationship) between parent and child?

Childcare. Childcare is expensive.  Infant childcare can range between $5,000+ to $16,000 a year depending on which state you live in.  Childcare, on average takes 10%-25% of the yearly joint income of a married couple, while single moms have to spend 30%-80% of their yearly income on childcare.  HALF! of your yearly income just on CHILDCARE! so moms can go to work to provide for their families.  For a family on or near the poverty line? They’re looking at an average of 50%- above 100% of their income on childcare.  This means, that people on or near the poverty line ‘spend’ what they don’t have on childcare, or the cost of childcare is contributing to their financial loss.  This. shit. is. CRAZY. when you look at the numbers.  The yearly cost of childcare is often running close to or near the cost for one year of in-state college tuition.  Living pay-check to pay-check increases the stress which often trickles down to children with parents unable to be physically and emotionally present due to working long hours/multiple jobs and then coming home to do the cooking, cleaning etc. How present would you be?  You can view the cost of childcare in each state at

Healthcare.  This is a no-brainer.  Infants and children need to go to the doctor, many might be for emergency purposes.  Needless to say, adults also need medical care without going into debt or becoming bankrupt.  Prior to the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) maternity care was NOT covered AT ALL, which meant being a woman was a pre-existing condition!  In addition to maternity care, Family Planning  is also necessary. Family planning including insurance covered, free or minimal cost for birth control as well as the right to choose for having a baby.  Taking away funding for Planned Parenthood sets up an increase in possible STI’s and an increase in unwanted children coming into this world  with little financial means or emotional development to support the child (teen pregnancy).   There are 14.5 million children living in poverty in this country today and lack of funding for Planned Parenthood would only increase these numbers.  How can one be against abortion yet be ok with taking away universal maternity care as well as meals for children?  Aren’t infants and children just as valuable as a fetus? With universal healthcare,  women and children would get the care they need, without the nagging worry about going bankrupt or further into debt.  Personally, an overhaul of the health insurance and pharmaceutical industries should be held accountable and tackled.   We’re coming up on tax day, and believe me, every year I throw my fists up into the air cursing Uncle Sam.  However, I’m all for universal healthcare and education even with higher taxes. At least these great financial burdens would be lifted and I (we) would get a direct payoff instead of my taxes contributing to corporate wealth.  I know many people are against universal healthcare, but can someone tell me how Cuba, a country with universal healthcare and education, yet considered well below the economic growth rate has created a vaccine (Cimavax) to halt the spread of lung cancer?  One of the deadliest cancers? Yet, billions have been raised for the Komen foundation for breast cancer, and yet there’s still no cure?  Can someone say Profits over people?

Ok, off my soapbox…Next.

Paid Maternity Leave.  Not just maternity leave, but Paid Maternity Leave. Having a newborn is one of the greatest gifts and joys, yet employs the biggest stressors.  As a parent, you are on duty 24/7 no matter what.  Your underlying feeling is worry.  Worry that you’ll be a good parent, worry that you provide for your child, that they get a good education, worry that you raised a good functional child into adulthood, worry that your child is safe especially when you have no control.  As your children become adults, you worry less and less often but the underlying worry is never-ending. Well, until you die.  But I digress. Having a newborn is stressful and a complete change of your life. Paid maternity leave is important in establishing a connection/bond with your infant through holding, cradling, feeding, soothing, eye contact, speaking, bathing, cleaning etc.  All of these actions are bonding, especially breast-feeding.  Maternity leave would allow for bonding between parent and child without the stress of financially providing by having to rush back to work.  Some people get three weeks paid, some get 6 weeks, while others get 3 months and others get leave without pay.  3- 6 weeks are not enough. Three months leave, much better.  Paid maternity leave is needed for every family, but for the single mom (dad) and the parent with minimal support, it is imperative.

Which brings us to….

Equal Pay (and a Livable Minimum Wage).  US Department of Labor states that 57% of women work outside of the home. Statistics share that women make .60-.86 cents to every dollar a man makes, with women of color (Black, Latina) making the least. This impacts all women and especially single moms who carry the majority of responsibility for day-to-day child rearing.  For the single parent household, the stress of financially providing for your child and the stress of keeping the job is most likely increased (overwhelm), which impacts the connection between your child. Women will lose 800+ BILLION dollars! this year alone due to inequality in pay. If the Equal Pay rights became law, this would greatly benefit women, single women and single moms by reducing  financial stress with the ability to provide more for their child or children.  In addition, many families have to work 2-3 jobs just to make ends meet and often that isn’t enough.  Here’s where the livable wage increase happens.  Wages have NOT increased with inflation through the years contributing to the 14.5 million children living in poverty.  Kids not receiving basic care, such as food, healthcare and for some, shelter. Basic needs.  I don’t know why this isn’t an outrage in America and with our politicians.

Yes, these are all separate issues affecting women, but these are all connected.  These systems are environmental factors that impact the well-being and development of children.  To think that a child’s development is solely impacted by the individual family is not seeing the entire picture for child rearing and development.

The lack of these systems being made available to support parents can contribute to increased stress.  You’ve read multiple times already in this blog, that’s how important it is.  Sustained stress becomes a form of trauma and therefore affects your reasoning which impacts your ability to think rationally. Stress also affects your emotions (i.e. being quick to anger, lashing out at your child or your partner), and affects your behavior with coping mechanisms like alcohol, drugs, food, tv, phone, FB and anything else to checkout (Frone, M; Russell, M; Cooper, M. Lynne,  1997).  Stress taken alone doesn’t sound so insidious, but sustained stress is deadly.

I could’ve written separate blogs regarding each system, but that would take this subject and make it linear with a one-dimensional view, when in reality many systems impact mother-child (parent-child) bonds.  Furthermore, when we see that there are many elements to supporting women and children, thus society as a whole, then maybe we can see that we are all connected and it really does take a village.  Maybe then, we are liable to take action in the direction of the whole rather than the individual.


Sorry, It Never Gets Better with a Narcissist


Have you had the opportunity to experience being in a relationship with a narcissist/sociopath?  I’ve wanted to put out a PSA about it months ago.  If you haven’t had the opportunity to be in a personal one-on-one relationship, you are now.  You’re in a relationship with a narcissist/sociopath, yep and it’s the current POTUS.  Personally, I think many politicians are narcissists/sociopath because they’re just out for themselves, but this POTUS is such a classic textbook narcissist/sociopath that my therapist friends and I watched his campaign with bulging eye sockets, saying, “Can you believe this sh!t?!”   This real life living textbook example of what a narcissist/sociopath is a dream come true for the psychology instructor.

I don’t want to see the POTUS fail, yet in all honesty I am having difficulty with compassion considering there isn’t any compassion being displayed from him, his Fright Night cabinet or Congress. Some people aren’t aware of such behavior so they may not be able to see it, instead thinking that this is just for show. Some people are in denial and make excuses for his behavior, and still others are ‘comfortable’ with narcissistic behavior and don’t care.  But, anyone that has been in any kind of relationship or familiarity with a narcissist/sociopath knows that it never gets better.  It’s been less than 2 weeks and already it looks like a Comedy of Errors, only it’s not funny.  I wouldn’t be surprised if POTUS, his cabinet and Congress sought ways to limit the free press, access to it or instill the slow decimation of our constitutional rights. Watch, it will happen. For the people who think you’re safe, you’re not.  A narcissist/sociopath will turn on you and discard you just as soon as you are no longer needed for his plans.

Here’s what you can look froward to being in a personal relationship with a Narcissist/Sociopath. Red lettering are broad examples via the current POTUS.

In the beginning of the relationship (Campaign) you can look forward to:

  • Being swept off your feet through gestures of buying material objects, gifts, and trips.
  • Image is EVERYTHING to them and your image matters too. Makes a great impression in the beginning.  Needs the best of everything and extremely status/fame (recognition/adoration) oriented.  Loves adoration. Ever seen him or his family in a pair of sweats, with messed up hair walking on the streets of New York?
  • Being told exactly what you want to hear. Building a wall, Muslim Ban.
  • Moving fast (emotional or sexual intimacy) into a relationship, using terms such as WE and US.

In the middle of the relationship (now) you can look forward to:

  • Emotional distance perpetuated through physical distance such as
  • Working (a-holic), substance abuse, anywhere but with you.
  • Lack of Empathy for you and others.  This one is the most important. All other behavior stems from lack of empathy.  Throw in sociopathy and you have a lack of guilt.  Sound fun?  It’s interesting that people believe that this POTUS understands the average working man’s/woman’s plight.  Just because someone can identify someone’s vulnerability and use it for their own gain doesn’t translate into empathy.
  • Consistent criticisms, verbal abuse, anger outbursts, intimidation tactics escalating to possible physical abuse.  Angry Verbal attacks via twitter, attempted lawsuits.
  • Manipulations and lies even when faced with the facts and truth. You will hear bullshit more times than not. Inauguration photos. Making up numbers and information such as voter fraud, increase in crime, unemployment rates etc.  There will be much more.
  • Blatant disregard of and crossing of your boundaries.  Signing of defunding of Planned Parenthood after millions of women (men and children) marched around the world.
  • A sense of entitlement that is insatiable.  Multiple Executive orders WITHOUT going through the proper judicial channels.
  • Inability to physically or emotionally be present in times of crises, or when you need/want support such as having a baby, loss of family member, accident requiring hospital stay/assistance etc.  Repeal of ACA (Obamacare)Let’s see what happens when we have a natural disaster.
  • You’ll be blamed, shamed, and made wrong for their actions and behaviors. Blaming the media for calling out the lies and ‘alternative facts.’  This is the time in which you will begin to question yourself, and depending how healthy your sense of self is, you will feel crazy because you will feel like you entered the twilight zone. Seriously.  You try but just can’t make sense of his behavior. You will feel crazy and wonder if it’s you, but in order to appease the narcissist/sociopath and stay in the relationship you must buy into whatever alternate reality they spew. This will create anxiety and depression for you.
  • Inability to take accountability for actions and behaviors, hence you will rarely, if at all hear an apology UNLESS it has to do with something they want. The apology won’t be about you at all.  No apology has been stated.  Others take it as a positive as if being a maverick against political correctness. It’s not.
  • Constant effort to reassure your partner (no matter what you do, it will never be enough). You have to feed, coddle and burp a grown man!?  No thanks.  In POTUS’ administration, we can see and hear it by Spicer’s and Conway’s comments with the media. They spew alternative facts, otherwise they’d be fired. 
  • Consistent fighting, depending on if you set boundaries (use your voice) or just say yes to appease no matter what the cost is to you.  Marching is setting a boundary.
  • You will be objectified, they value by what they have and accumulate. The best of everything. You will have an undercurrent feeling of needing to be perfect (physically, intellectually, professionally, Status related) at all times. Again, no matter what you do, how great you look, how intelligent, or how successful you are, it will not be enough because the narcissist is always on the lookout for someone/something better. His Wives (previous models). Which brings us to
  • Affairs.  At some point, they will look and find someone else. They will have multiple affairs or long-term affairs.  Yes, and has been repeatedly accused of harassment by multiple women. 
  • Inability to maintain long-term relationships.  Multiple marriages.

Near the ‘end’ of the relationship you can look forward to:

  • Living separate lives under the same roof. This is done for self-protection, a boundary within the relationship.  If you choose to stay in the relationship long-term, this is how it will most likely be. Remember the media reported that his current wife wanted to stay in New York?. My therapist friends and I were like, “There it is!” Classic textbook. I feel for Melania, she was almost free.


So, How do you deal with a narcissist/sociopath?  There are only few options.

  1. With Kid Gloves, if you want to have some sort of relationship. Just know that the relationship will be one-sided and not in your favor.  Kid gloves = saying Yes to most everything regardless if your boundary, values or morals have been crossed.
  2. Don’t give them adoration.  Shut them out. It will drive them nuts. They will either rage or do a 180 for a time to regain the adoration.
  3. Leave.  Get out ASAP.   The healthier you are, the less likely you will tolerate being treated in such a way.  The narcissist/sociopath will often prey upon empathic or vulnerable people and will often create an environment in which their partner is financially dependent upon them. This way, they have control.  Therefore, some partners find themselves financially and psychologically trapped within the relationship.

A relationship with a narcissist/sociopath will deplete you emotionally, physically and possibly financially because they will slowly and methodically tear you down by criticizing  everything you do, everything you are until you yourself begin to feel hated and resemble just a shell of what you were.

*Note: For the national scale, what will be needed is consistent and firm boundaries (Marches/Protests) by the people of this nation.

If you choose to leave the relationship (set a boundary) before your narcissist/sociopath partner wants:

  • Be prepared for revenge tactics such as increasing financial hardship by stalling divorce proceedings thereby increasing the amount of money it takes for the divorce to become final, your partner seeking to take something of value away from you (your reputation, custody of the kids, money, house, child and spousal support, pets, tarnishing your relationship with your children by blaming you for the demise of the relationship, or using manipulation of money, material objects to sway your kid’s affection etc.).  Nice huh?

How do you know when you’re dealing with a Narcissist/Sociopath?

  • Set a Boundary and most likely you will see this person go into a rage competing with the best tantrums of the most experienced 3-4 year old.  Child.  In healthy relationships, you should be able to openly communicate with your partner. A narcissist/sociopath will see a boundary as a personal attack against them and turn the tables by attacking and blaming you. It’s their way or the highway because they don’t really care about you.  Sounds harsh, yes, but true.
  • Express a need or share with your narcissist/sociopath how their behavior affected you.  You will again, most likely get a wrath of words, anger and rage rained down upon you. See above.

Some people think that a narcissist can change.  There can be change with consistent long-term therapy.  However, I would say the change that will be seen will be fairly small. A baby takes bigger steps.  Without the empathy muscle, change is minimal.  I know I sound harsh maybe even gloomy, but this is reality when you’re dealing with a personality disorder and times2.   For the people refusing to see that this behavior is not ok because you think you’re safe, well, you’re not.  It NEVER gets better with a narcissist/sociopath.  It may appear so in the beginning, but underneath the smoke and mirrors is the truth.

“Don’t Believe the Hype.”

The ‘Secret’ to a long lasting relationship



Here’s the secret to a long lasting relationship.

  1. Love
  2. Co-dependency
  3. Acceptance

I know there are many articles about what makes a long-lasting or a more intimate relationship.  I could go into the ‘need’ for intimacy building, communication, having things in common, being on the same page with external aspects such as disciplining and raising your children, money matters, or sex etc, but I’m not.   I could also go into the attachment theory and write how attachment styles (secure, avoidant, anxious, disorganized) contributes to relationship dynamics and how one partner can do XYZ to calm her partner or support his partner.  But I’m not going to, because they don’t matter. That’s right, they don’t matter.   Blasphemy in the therapy world.  Instead, I’m taking a very bare bones realistic view at what it ‘takes’ to make a relationship long-lasting, and by long-lasting I’m talking about ’til death do us part.  I am sharing with you from my own experience in working with couples directly and indirectly as well as personally observing others that are still together after decades.

First, let’s look at a couple of fundamental truths:

Everybody has a deep unexplained fear of being abandoned, rejected or left by someone they love or by someone they’ve invested in emotionally.  And I do mean Errbody.   It’s a very human element to want to be accepted, loved and adored by others, especially someone you’re interested in. If you don’t believe me, think about a time when you didn’t say how you really felt or what you really thought because you wanted to be accepted.

Many, most, all of us have a pervasive thought or belief that we picked from some experience(s) that say a) I don’t matter or b) I’m not lovable as I am, which leads to all sorts of interesting behavior.  I know some may say that confident people don’t have a belief like this, I beg to differ.  Some people are more adept in masking and marketing themselves than others.

These two fundamental truths will lead you in attempting to cover up and put on a certain face, but that face begins to exhibit cracks around the 3-6 month mark in relationship and the face all but gets dismantled by the 1 1/2 year mark when you REALLY see each other in all of your wonderful, beautiful, ugly and chaotic glory.  Everyone does this too.  Errbody.


We can study and do clinical trials of techniques to help relationships, but do they really work? Yes, of course, when both partners are invested in the relationship, couples counseling is great for helping during tough periods in your relationship.   But, behavior doesn’t change overnight, and most likely, you and your partner will revert back to the same or similar behavior (i.e. communication, intimacy patterns) at some point in your relationship.   In my realistic view, here are the qualities to a long-lasting relationship.

  1. LOVE.  Love is such a wonderful feeling that when you fall in love you’re literally high off feel good chemicals that flood your brain (Central Nervous System).  You feel good all the time, excited and walking on clouds.  This high begins to calm down around the 6th month mark, where you’re still excited but less likely to leave work early to see your partner.  Love is like Elmer’s Glue, but unlike Captain and Tenille’s song, Love doesn’t keep you together.  Love can bind people, make you want to pair up, but love is also so fragile that it can dissipate as quickly as it was created.
  2. Co-DEPENDENCY.  You might be thinking WTF???  Yep. I said it.  First, let me say that I’ve worked in the field of addiction, and at most if not all treatment centers you’re basically taught as a counselor and patient that co-dependency is bad. No Exceptions. Co-dependency isn’t all bad.  Co-dependency is like Cement Glue. If you’ve ever asked yourself, “why does she/he stay?” or “Why do I stay with him/her?’ or ‘Why do I keep going back?” what you’re witnessing or experiencing is probably more co-dependency than love.  We may call it love but co-dependency binds together and it’s tough or damn near impossible to take apart.  You may stay in the relationship out of love, fear (of being alone), want, need (for the kids, financial reasons), belief, cultural and family obligation, maybe you don’t want to be seen as the ‘bad guy’ or you may stay out of a sense of duty.  This is co-dependency.  There are many reasons for it and it’s different for everyone.  Co-Dependency is also about taking care of your partner, tending to their needs and well-being before yours if needed.  This is the make it or break it part of the relationship. Here is when you decide whether to stay through your partners Sh!t, or he stays with you. This is also where you decide if you can live with her Sh!t for the rest of your life and stay or put the pedal to the metal and leave.  Co-dependency becomes troublesome when you lose your sense of self, stop taking care of you to the detriment of your (and your children’s) emotional, mental and physical well-being.  Abusive relationships, being with a partner who is an active addict, refusing to take medication for her mental illness, having multiple affairs etc can pummel anyone’s spirit over time.  I do not advocate staying in these relationships unless the partner receives help and stops the behavior, but it’s not my decision to make.
  3. ACCEPTANCE.  This is another no-brainer, but how often do you think or want to change something about your partner? How often do you criticize or suggest to your partner a certain way of doing things?  How often do you wish your partner communicated more with you on an intimate level and not just about schedules with the kids?  What if she was never really big on intimate communication?  What if he’s big on keeping the house super organized to almost OCD levels?  Working with couples, usually one partner wants the other partner to change without changing themselves.  What I’ve noticed with couples in long-term relationships is that they (at some point) accepted their partner as is, the good and the bad without trying to change them.  It could be after decades together, arguing with so many years of trying to change their partner with no success, they just surrender.  He may realize that she may not be the best communicator but she’s committed and they take care of each other.  She may realize his need for a super organized household is his expression of his anxiety and his way to feel calm.  Do you see what happens with acceptance? It becomes about not taking your partners behavior as a personal affront.  Her lack of communication isn’t about him, just as his behavior isn’t about her. When you accept your partner as they are, behaviors that bothered you or you argued about stop being so irritating.

This is why communication, having things in common etc are icing on the cake.  They may make the relationship ‘better’ at times,  but they don’t have to make or break the relationship.  In any relationship, you have to decide what you can and will accept in relationship, what behaviors and qualities are important to you, and what are your absolute deal breakers.  Absolute deal breakers = behaviors that will cause you to walk away from the relationship. My personal deal breakers are active addiction, substance abuse, physical, verbal or emotional abuse, or an affair(s). An affair may be negotiable, but the issue would be my willingness or ability to trust again.  One last example albeit an extreme one, but I see this often.  Let’s say you fall in love, and you fall in love with someone who is a narcissist or has narcissistic characteristics but you still want to be in the relationship (this would be co-dependency).  To remain in the relationship, you have to accept certain behaviors from your partner such as not having your voice and emotional needs heard or possibly met, abuse, criticisms, affairs, substance use/abuse, inability to see your side, lack of empathy or emotional support. BTW, I’m not making these behaviors up, they come with a narcissist.   You will have to accept that these behaviors from your partner won’t change despite what you do.  So, if you can accept these behaviors without getting your spirit pummeled and you’re ok with your decision, then I say go for it. If you can’t accept it, or the price of you changing yourself to please your partner has become too much, then you might decide to leave.  Otherwise, you will have the same argument year after year.  Your partner may or may not change because of the relationship, but you, yourself can’t change your partner.

Try to go into a relationship without thinking and hoping your partner will change, instead ask yourself, “Can I live with this (behavior) for the rest of my life?”

Here are the Cliff Notes:  You Love. If you decide to Stay. You accept.



The Avoidant Relational Style



Ahhh..the avoidant relational style. This is the opposite extreme of the Anxious.  The Anxious style needs to be close and needs to be in relationship.  The Avoidant is, well, opposite.  The avoidant pushes away, looks away.  This relational style is relatively easy to identify simply because Avoidant’s don’t do emotions and feelings very well, their own or another’s.

Attachment theory suggests toddlers/children who show no preference for who provides nurturing are avoidant relational style. When the parents left the room, the child did not become distressed, instead, the child simply noticed his parents weren’t there and went back to what he was doing. Furthermore, the child had no preference and was able to be consoled by ‘anyone.’

There are two rules of thought of what may contribute to the Avoidant relational style.  Some children may enjoy playing alone and some children adapt to playing alone.  For a child to find themselves playing often alone, makes me wonder.  I wonder does the child have anyone else to play with, and I wonder how engaged are the parents? Are the parents reading and spending time with their child or are they making their child take care of his/her own emotional/play needs?  Were ‘I Love you’s,’  hugs, physical comforting expressed consistently and freely, or were they sparse?  A consistent lack in these areas can contribute to a child’s avoidant style.

Because adult Avoidant’s don’t do well with emotions, as a child, he may have had to suppress his emotions or have had to be responsible at a young age. For example, a child that has been beaten and abused may not have had the protection and comforting of another family member. So, how did the child take care of his emotions?  Who did she go to for comfort if there was no-one to go to? How does a child survive and adapt to such a situation? He finds solace within his own company and stuff’s/shut’s off his emotions.  To adapt further, he performs. Performs by doing anything and everything that would prevent him from being beaten again, such as becoming the perfect child. Another example would be the child has taken on responsibility at a young age, becoming her parent’s confidant or surrogate spouse.  Maybe she has had to protect her dad from her mother’s verbal abuse and console her dad, becoming a surrogate spouse to her father, filling the emotional void vacated by her father’s wife (her mother).  This experience is a lot of responsibility for a child.

How does the above translate to adult Avoidant relational style?  Avoidant’s push away, look away in relationship, they enjoy their time alone, control or controlling behavior may be an issue, they may take more time alone or withdraw when feeling overwhelmed, preferring to take care of themselves rather than reach out, so trust and trusting others is also an issue.  They may often prefer time alone, rather than be with other people, which can include family.  What is interesting about this relational style, is Avoidant’s often don’t present as avoidant in the early stages of relationship. Avoidant’s can start out strong in the beginning of a relationship because of the newness and excitement. He/she will want to be with you, call you, make all the time for you.  The avoidant may present and appear as Anxious style, wanting to spend a lot of time with you, courting you, while you’re thinking, “This is great! She’s open, present, and emotionally available.”  However, once the newness and masks fall off, the avoidant is left with the realness of their partner and the beginnings of intimacy which equal to ‘your demands and the demands of the relationship.’   This is uncomfortable because connection (relationship) requires the Avoidant to be present, open and engaged with her partner.

Avoidants often become uncomfortable with emotions, so if you’re dealing with a situation that is emotional (positive or negative) for you, such as a loss of family member, loss/change of job, birth of a child etc, he will most likely have difficulty offering emotional support because he doesn’t know how to deal with his own emotions.   Some avoidants just don’t know what to do and other avoidants don’t have much empathy. As such, emotional situations can be a catalyst for the avoidant to check out of the relationship.

The avoidant will subtly create some distance between himself and his partner.  Distance often looks like using work, alcohol, drugs, spending more time with friends, having multiple partners (affairs), getting lost in tv/phone/games- anything that will take him away from the relationship. Intimacy becomes a threat to the avoidant.  The avoidant would be perfectly happy living under the same roof with his partner, yet living separately, that way he still feels secure WITHOUT having to be present emotionally or providing emotional support for his partner.  Needless to say, his partner will often feel lonely within the relationship unless he’s paired up with another avoidant.  That could be bliss, a meeting of the minds and practicality.

The homework for the avoidant: To engage, or re-engage in relationship on a consistent basis without becoming overwhelmed. Meaning, you re-engage to the point right before you feel overwhelmed (you want to push away) then you take a break (disengage) but come back into the relationship.    This can be done through communication (with eye contact) or physical touch such as hand holding, cuddling, or hugs.


FYI: If you think just because someone habitually posts stuff on Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter doesn’t make them not Avoidant, think again.  Many individuals find solace in displaying their lives on social media, yet struggle with connecting in real life.

As always, I hope this helps.