People ever tell you that? Sometimes from the chronic stress and upheaval the pathological relationship causes, people can get very one-dimensional and hyper-focused on him/the relationship/or the problems. They stop doing the kinds of things in their life that could help them be LESS obsessed, depressed, or anxious. That's because survivors tend to 'lose themselves' in the pathological relationship. It's a testimony to the strength of pathology and the almost labyrinth-type maze of hypnotic lull that occurs in these relationships.
The crazier it gets, the more the survivor feels like she needs to 'try to understand it' or 'try to make him understand what he's doing' or 'do something that will help the relationship feel less pathological. This idea can create a 24/7 obsession...it can take up your whole life trying to balance the relationship, which you probably have figured out, is un-balanceable.
Getting lost in a very dark tunnel can draw people away from the actions, behaviors, thoughts, people, and resources that previously allowed them to live a happier and more balanced life. The pathological relationship is ALL consuming and soon any level of your own self care is abandoned for the insane focus on how to help him/or the relationship.
It isn't long before others around you notice the myopic and single focused person you have become that can't think about or talk about anything except the pathological relationship. This myopic view of your relationship has now blacked out any other part of your life. Consequently, people are bailing out of your life, emotional resources are dwindling, your life has become the size and shape of him.
Women in the most dire of all situations (especially in domestic violence for instance) are those who have lost physical and emotional resources and can find no way to get out. The less support a woman feels from others, the more likely she is to stay because it takes support to get out, to break up, or to not go back. So, by the act of myopia, her life and resources just dwindle away. One day someone says to her, "Man, you need to get a bigger life than THIS" and something really hits her about that statement. Like coming out of a deep freeze, the light bulb goes on—she notices her lack of a life and says, "What happened to me? Where is my LIFE?"
The last few weeks in the newsletter I have been talking about 'Living the Gentle Life' especially if you are someone who has lived in a pathological love relationship or has a chronic stress disorder or PTSD. A gentle life is a full life. One that includes the kinds of things that nurture you, that bring peace to you, are simultaneously in, and part, of your life. The gentle life is healing because to feel joy is to send the right kinds of brain chemistry to your brain that fights depression and anxiety and gives the sensation of well being. In order to heal you need to be a 'Joy Hunter.'
The fact is, women go back (or pick poorly again) because they fail to build a life for themselves. They know how to 'invest, invest, invest' in him and their relationship with him but have no idea how to 'invest' and build her own life without him. Women who have healthy lives on the outside of the relationship, are those
more likely to get out and stay out.
Loneliness is one of the key risk factors why women go back. There are so many ways to get your needs met for friendship, fun, support, beauty, or whatever you love in life. Building a 'life' is the best prevention for relapse a woman can do.
But sadly, many will not do it. After 25 years of doing this work, I can pick out who will and won't invest in themselves by building a life. Those that don't are in the same boat ten years down the road. Either with this pathological person or another one just like him.
Those that do build a life are less likely to feel pressured to date or get so lonely that they pick up the phone and call him.
The Gentle Life isn't even possible unless you have a life that is ready for transformation. Living with a pathological or picking another is just about as opposite of a gentle life as there is. Will you be one that rebuilds a fabulous life?
Joyce Brown who inspired our work and who happens to be my mother said "I gotta stop focusing on him and get a great life!" At 60 she went to college, at 70 she took up belly dancing, and after 70 she sailed her own boat to the Bahamas and traveled to Paris and beyond. She proved the point that getting a great life was in and of it self, learning to create a gentle life. Much healing to you!
We have created an mp3 about this topic called Get a Great Life. Click HERE to see product
(**If we can support you in your recovery process, please let us know. The Institute is the largest provider of recovery based services for survivors of pathological love relationships. Information about pathological love relationships is in our award winning book Women Who Love Psychopaths and is also available in our retreats, 1:1s, or phone sessions. See the website for more info.)
Gender Disclaimer: The issues The Institute writes about are mental health issues. They are not gender issues. Both females and males have the types of Cluster B disorders we often refer to in our articles. Our readership is approximately 90% female therefore we write for those most likely to seek out our materials. We highly support male victims and encourage others who want to provide support to male victims to encompass the issues we discuss only from a female perpetrator/male-victim standpoint. Cluster B Education is a mental health issue applicable to both genders.