Friday, February 10, 2017

Intimate Relationships: Start With Self-Examination (Part 1)


Self, Interrupted

The primary and ultimate barrier to your ability to have a successful and stable relationship starts with yourself. Unfortunately, it is nearly universal that individuals (myself a “leader” in this aspect) lack a good relationship with themselves at some point, or many points in their lives.
The causes are most often tied to: abuse, a lack of introspection, focused misplaced on materialism, success trappings, and repeated failure(s) in prior intimate experience(s). Sometimes, all of these are present and interacting – making the process within one’s self an even more difficult trek.

The Fragile King or Queen of Pain

Abuse, in its many forms, leaves you in a state of: Why me? What did I do to deserve this? How can I…go on?
With abuse, repression of the events, or creation of a scar that never heals right, are natural defense mechanisms that allow one to forge ahead. To survive, but not thrive. To march on, but not to march through obstacles. Instead, you create a wall – with the words shame, humiliation, blame, fear, sadness, and most prevalent of all – anger – written and built to last forever, if need be.
A fortress of solitude or the castle of whispers that you rule without a corresponding confidence in either its existence, or its necessity. Yet, you rule it nonetheless; because it makes you feel “real” – its tangibility to something you know is real to your life: your pain.
Often too, as an outgrowth of the abuses (or even perceived ones – as neurologists have concluded can exist), a sheer lack of introspection, a focus on item obtainment/attaining success (each a soothing mechanism to one’s bruised psyche), or repeated failures in intimacy will follow, or concurrently arise. A person no longer acts authentically; rather, it is all a well-crafted façade, a way to cope with what ails them.
Reflexively, people that interact with you, aren’t sure about your actual identity. Because while they see you, attempting to be that better person, something real is held back. It’s a perception issue; the amazing human mind can sense the hurt and missing part of what was the total you. This will interfere with successful relationships – and explains the coping mechanisms engaged in.

Alleviating Pain: Remove and Deny the Source

This isn’t your fault at all. But the solution is your ultimate task and is your responsibility: to review, reflect, and bring to closure these deep wounds and bring down the wall. Grief the past and let it go are the answers to seek out. You’ve likely heard this for a very long time from the well-intentioned, and not-so-well intentioned sources.
Potential loves and true friends meant well in advising and should be kept in your life. The easiest identification of true friends: they want your company, not what you have, and are consistent and respectful with others of all classes and walks of life.
But, the very ones that hurt you so much – often, they lack both empathy and a conscience, with their manipulative and self-serving actions and facility with lies. Address this immediately, with no contact, it is ultimately the best, and most realistic solution.
As these predatory influences too have substantial work (urgently and significantly on themselves) to ever prove that they are human, and have a conscience. That of actual, sustained and unforced therapy, brain diagnostics and deep work, proven empathy (elsewhere), and no repeated failures towards you. A two strike rule can apply (only if you decide that is warranted, given the nature of the events). But finally: Never let yourself be invested or dependent on giving any second chances. Actions are greater than any words.

The Personality Disordered

This moves the conversation into abnormal psychology realms – that of typical Cluster B personalities (Anti-Socials, Narcissists, Borderlines and Histrionics) and Psychopaths that have impacted your life with their abuses. It is proven by Drs. Robert Hare and Martha Stout, and a multitude of neurologists, that these disorders are inflexible, and nearly incurable, due to biochemical brain patterns existing; and their equally sustained behaviors.

Traits of Cluster B Personalities and Psychopathy (Hare, et. al.)

Emotional Presentation
Social Presentation
Glibness/ Superficial Charm
Ego Centric/Grandiose
Poor Behavior Control
No Remorse/Guilt
Need Excitement & Create Drama
No Empathy
Lack Responsibility
Deceitfulness & Lying
Early Behavioral Incidents
Shallow Emotions
Anti-social – Outside social norms
Criminally Versatile

Genetics will play a substantial (35-50%) role in the reason for those that have engaged in abuses against your person, violating trust, boundaries and causing stress and duress. Environmental and approved social maladaptive behavior (during their upbringing) furthers embeds, or installs, a toxic program of not being able to treat any other with any respect.
In the case of Borderlines (due to the label being tied predominately to female disordered patients), dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), developed by Marsha M. Linehan, PhD, is used to treat the thinking patterns seen in Borderlines: all or nothing reasoning, suicidal ideations, from dysregulation of emotions –as they present with low empathy. Linehan, was diagnosed in her teens with a mental disorder and received chemical treatments prior to 1965.

DBT Therapy Foundational Pillars

§  Mindfulness: the practice of being fully aware (in the present)
§  Distress Tolerance: tolerate pain in difficult situations, not to change it or distort it
§  Interpersonal Effectiveness: ask for what you want and say no while maintaining self-respect and relationships with others
§  Emotion Regulation: change emotions that you want to change
This said, functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) has revealed that those with borderline personality disorder (BPD) have lowered brain activity in regions important for empathy. (August 2015 Psych Central post by Rick Nauert, PhD.)
So, not all hope is lost. But, also beware.
Fighting against the above high-conflict seeking disorders, this author knows how hard this path is. The identifiable traits of those disorders listed above have been routinely experienced from one’s closest relatives through to romantic interests to one-off friends.
An entire book could be written on these experiences and years wasted trying to come to grips with violations and poor responses had in those “relationships.” Maybe, such will also be cathartic.
But, at the heart of those chapters on the whys of those interactions – lay another label, Codependency – the often transferred traits of the truly disordered onto unwitting, but no longer completely, healthy people. A few tell-tale signs of being in such a dynamic:
§  Having difficulty making decisions in a relationship
§  Having difficulty identifying your feelings
§  Having difficulty communicating in a relationship
§  Valuing the approval of others more than valuing yourself
§  Lacking trust in yourself and having poor self-esteem
§  Having fears of abandonment or an obsessive need for approval
§  Having an unhealthy dependence on relationships, even at your own cost
§  Having an exaggerated sense of responsibility for the actions of others
Beth Gilbert, January 2016,

Codependency Personality Disorder Traits

  • Caretaking
  • Low self-worth
  • Repression
  • Obsession
  • Controlling
  • Anger
  • Denial
  • Dependency
  • Lack of Trust
  • Poor Communication
  • Weak Boundaries
  • Sexual Problems

As a result, many years can pile up on regrets, bargaining with ghosts, and the phantoms of what-ifs. The finding of ways to avoid that which you really want – or substituting that with a lesser ideal, a common codependent trait. The hiding away from others or even incapacitation in having just simple conversations becomes a rule, not an exception. Finding adverse outlets into drugs or alcohol accompany this behavior. This behavior is a way to dull pain, avoid responsibility for your life, and makes matters only worse, never dealing with the root causes of your problem.

The New Self

Even when you accept this required, recovery journey and cross that bridge from the hurt castle (and set fire to all of it), thus also peeling away that scab that covered up a bruised inner self, the fresh air hurts still on that raw revealed wound. You will feel too exposed. Naked. Alone. A fraud again, at first.

And well, so you have another trek ahead – to finding out who you really are. Or more importantly, who you want to be now.

This is alone makes discovering who you are, and loving that flawed person, the most important goal you have in your life. Not to be ever narcissistic about it, the currently modern social media daily showing off sessions, but rather: quietly able to stand your own presence, your thoughts, and the times, when, your brain doesn’t provide immediate answers to your relationship questions.

Instead, to be quite blunt, the learning the how: of a human being – one without a cell phone, computer, email or TV for days – that doesn’t require stimulation from everything going on, out there. To dream about simple things, and ambitions, tied to a real outcome of developing yourself, a little at a time.

This is at the root of you. Before the recent industrial and internet ages, didn’t people get by with a few books, a simple fire, a reoccurring chore, and a shared trek with another (or others) in making their lives special? While we “love” our possessions and connectivity, this has just filled needlessly a space between us – that used to serve a different, and very useful function. That breath of air, time, and silence slowly went away in just the last 150 years.

Get back to that bit of finding yourself able to be, at peace, without.
(Side Note: the growth of psychology has intertwined with the industrial and internet ages. Not to say disorder and psychopathy didn’t exist prior to 1865. The “crazy houses” then, didn’t know what they didn’t know. Also, the last thirty-five years show a trend.)