The chance that one thing will happen instead of another.
You have the freedom to realize your grief is unique. Others may grieve in different ways than you because your experience will be influenced by a variety of factors. These include the relationship you had with the person who died, circumstances of death-whether it was sudden or expected, your support system, and your cultural and religious background. It is important not to compare oneself with others who are grieving, and to consider the “one-D-at-A-time” approach to allow yourself to proceed at your own pace.
You have the freedom to talk about your grade. By expressing grief openly, healing occurs and you are likely to feel better. Ignoring it will not make your grief go away. It is more important to seek out caring friends and relatives who will listen without judging.
You have the right to expect to feel a multitude of emotions. Your head, heart, and spirit will be affected when you are experiencing loss. As a result, you may experience feelings of confusion, disorganization, fear, guilt, relief, or other emotions. Sometimes they may come so I’m you continuously or follow each other within a short period of time. It is important to know that these emotions are normal responses to the death of a loved one, even though you may be feeling overwhelmed at the time.
You have the freedom to allow for numbness. Part of the great experience includes feeling numb or disoriented when I loved one dies. It allows your emotions to “catch up” with what you know intellectually and allows you to be insulated from the reality of the death into you can tolerate what you don’t want to believe.
You have the freedom to be tolerant of your physical and emotional limits. You may feel tired as a result of your feelings of loss and sadness. Your low-energy level may impair your ability to think clearly and to make decisions. It is important to nurture yourself by getting daily rest, eating balanced meals, and lowering your expectations of yourself.
You have the freedom to experience grief attacks or memory embraces. You may experience “searches of grief” or flashbacks (“memory embraces”), which can be frightening and leave you feeling overwhelmed. These feelings are normal. Try to find someone who understands how you’re feeling and is willing to listen.
You have the freedom to develop a support system. Although reaching out to others and excepting their help maybe difficult, finding people who will provide understanding you need and who will let you be yourself maybe the best action you can take on your own behalf.
You have the freedom to make use of ritual. The funeral retro serves the dual purpose of acknowledging the death of a loved one and allowing you to express great. It also provides you with the support of caring people who are also greeting.
You have the freedom to embrace your spirituality. Express your faith in whatever ways that seem appropriate to you. Try to have people around you to support your religious beliefs. You may feel hurt and abandoned and may feel angry at God because of the death of someone you love, but it is important to realize that this feeling is a normal part of grief. Try to find someone who won’t be judgmental about your feelings and who will allow you to explore your thoughts and feelings.
You have the freedom to allow a search for meaning. You may find yourself asking, “why did he/she die?” Or, “why now?” This search for meaning is often another normal part of the healing process. Some questions have answers; some do not. Actually, healing occurs in the opportunity to pose the questions, not necessarily in answering them. Find a supportive friend who will listen responsively as you search for meaning.
You have the freedom to cherish her memories. Treasure the memories of your loved one who has died. Share them with your family and friends. Recognize that your memories may make you laugh or cry. In either case, they are a lasting part of your friendship that you had with a very special person in your life.
You have the freedom to move through your grief and heal. The capacity to love requires the necessity to grieve openly when someone you love dies. You cannot heal unless you openly express your grief. Denying your grief will only make it become more confusing and overwhelming. Embrace your grieve and heal. Reckon ceiling grieve will not happen quickly. Remember grief is a process not an event. Be patient and tolerant with yourself. Never forget that the death of someone you loved changes your life forever. It’s not that you will never be happy again, it’s simply that you will never be exactly the same as you were before death.
Death of a spouse
Death of a close family member
Personal injury or illness
Dismissal from work
Change in health of family member
Gain a new family member
Change in financial state
Death of a close friend
Change to different line of work
Change in frequency of arguments
Foreclosure of mortgage or loan
Change in responsibilities at work
Child leaving home
Trouble with in-laws
Outstanding personal achievement
Spouse starts or stops work
Begin or end school
Change in living conditions
Revision of personal habits
Trouble with boss
Change in working hours or conditions
Change in residence
Change in schools
Change in recreation
Change in church activities
Change in social activities
Minor mortgage or loan
Change in sleeping habits
Change in number of family reunions
Change in eating habits
Minor violation of law
Loss of Trust
Loss of Approval
Loss of Safety
Loss of Control of ones body
It’s November 21st at 3:44 PM. I’m having kind of a bad PTSD day.
It’s been a while (although not long enough)since my sleep has been burdened by hours upon hours of nightmares.
Last night I slept six solid hours. The entire time I was trapped in agony. I woke at 4:00 AM and clung to my husband whilst attempting to make sense of my world. Sometimes I awaken-and it feels like I’m still in a nightmare. Intellectually, (because I know a lot about trauma brain) I understand I’m awake, but that understanding is battling the part of my brain that is telling me I’m in danger. I ground myself by grabbing my husband or my dog. It’s like I’m literally clinging to the present because my brain is telling me to run for my life or fight…but I’m touching my dog and she’s reinforcing reality by orienting me.
I always think of people who are battling PTSD without any education about it. I have hundreds of hours of research and education about it; yet there are times I want to blow my brains out. When people tell me “I hate it! I just want it to stop!” I say “I know.” But they probably don’t understand that I KNOW!
In paying close attention to myself, I’ve learned something new: If I have nightmares all night-> I’m going to be triggered upon wakening + primed for panic throughout the day. That means I’ll be easily activated.
: to make (someone) ready to do something
: to make (something) ready for use
: to cover (a surface) with special paint in order to prepare it for the final layer of paint
1 : fill, load
2 a : to prepare for firing by supplying with priming
I woke from the first nightmare, grabbed my cell phone and played scrabble, scrolled Instagram and Facebook and online window shopped until I found sleep again…when I did, more nightmares came. Nightmares upon nightmares.
One dream was about domestic violence: Every time I left the house I’d see a man come out of no where and attack this woman. I don’t know if they were married, but clearly her goal was to escape him. He’d do the same thing every time-Storm toward her,grab her,dig his right hand into her skull so that his four fingers went beneath the skin..then he’d drag her off like a bowling ball while she screamed in agony. Observers on the street were yelling “Someone help her!” I took flight. The last time he grabbed her, he didn’t drag her off right away. I knew he was going to kill her. I ran while trying to call 911 on my cell phone. He was killing her and I knew I would be next as well as others in the vicinity. I yelled my husbands name really loud and that woke me. I actually yelled for him in my dream and in real life.
What was that dream about? I was in a violent relationship in the past, but I don’t think that’s key. I need to look at my world to see if there is something happening giving me the emotions I experienced in my dream. Fear.
The other night I dreamt I was in a horrible car wreck and dying. I’ve been in multiple vehicle accidents. I even thought I was dead once after being rear ended. But again, I don’t think the dream was about reliving an accident. Rather, it was about the associated emotion. Fear.
Following a nightmare-I try to soothe myself until I cannot keep my eyes open any longer. I’m avoiding sleep at the moment. Sometimes I think the dream will continue or another nightmare will start if I return to sleep. Other times I cannot sleep because I’m amped from thee burst of adrenaline.
I have a drawer full of Xanax that I can use, but I don’t like taking them. I know they’re there if I cannot regulate my heartbeat. Sometimes the emotions from my dreams linger all day. When that happens, I stay on my property.
I ground myself by (1) petting my dog after she wakes me up. (2) go on Facebook and Instagram. I usually find funny things on Facebook. I post things and banter. Things on Instagram make me laugh pretty hard and looking at animal pictures make me smile. (3) I work on my blog of (4) I get up and do things with my animals or garden.
I asked him if he’d ever experienced domestic violence in his personal life. He said he hadn’t.
He told me about the fist fights he’d had with his ex-partner. Perhaps people view same-sex domestic violence differently. It isn’t different. Domestic violence is domestic violence.
He said,”I don’t even know anyone who’s experienced domestic violence…at least that I know of.”
Yet he does know someone, because he knows me. He forgets that I’m a survivor; because I don’t present like a victim.
Deanna Cook was a 32 year-old aspiring part-time fashion designer and up-and-coming writer. Her mom, two daughters, three sisters and extended family members meant the world to her. Deanna loved animals and had a great sense of humor. She took great pride in helping her mother and aunts cook during family events. Deanna was beautiful, driven and vivacious.
Sadly, Deanna had been involved in, and had seemingly escaped, domestically violent relationships. On August 17, 2012, Deanna cried out to the police department’s 9-1-1 call center for assistance and to save her life. The 9-1-1 call was taken by a 9-1-1 operator who could clearly hear Deanna screaming at the top of her lungs in fear, crying out for help.
Nearly three minutes into the call, Deanna is heard begging her attacker to stop and asking the attacker why he kicked her door in to gain entry. The attacker asks Deanna if she called the police. Five (5) minutes into the 9-1-1 call Deanna asks her attacker why he is attacking her and says “please, please stop it.” Approximately seven (7) minutes into the call, she tells her attacker “please, please, please…..why are you doing this to me.” Deanna repeatedly screams “help.” Despite knowing of Deanna’s location, using XY coordinates, the police were not immediately dispatched; there was no 9-1-1 supervisor on duty; and the 9-1-1 call center was understaffed, with 9-1-1 operators working overtime.
From the tone of Deanna’s voice and screams that her life was in jeopardy, it was obvious that there was a physical disturbance in her home and that her life was being threatened. Despite that it was apparent that Deanna was being threatened, attacked and was in fear for her life, it took nearly ten (10) minutes to finally “initiate” a dispatch request for officers to go to Deanna’s home in one of the city’s socioeconomically deprived neighborhoods. Deanna’s frantic 9-1-1 call lasts approximately eleven (11) minutes.
Later, once officers in the field finally “volunteered” to investigate her domestic violence complaint, the officers first stopped to investigate a false burglary alarm call and later stopped at a 7-11 convenience store to buy personal items. The police officers did not use lights, sirens, or increased speed to drive to Deanna’s home. When the police arrived at Deanna’s home fifty (50) minutes after her initial 9-1-1 call, the officers did not go to the rear of her residence, did not peek through all of her windows (where they would have seen signs in her bedroom of a violent physical altercation), and never attempted to forcibly gain entry into Deanna’s home. The officers simply knocked on her door then called her cell phone. Receiving no response the officers just left.
Two (2) days later, on August 19, 2012, after Deanna did not show up for church, her two daughters, mother, and one of her sisters went to her home to check on her. After getting no response to repeated knocks on her door, the family contacted the 9-1-1 call center for assistance. Again, the 9-1-1 operators refused to send anyone to the neighborhood. After once again being denied any assistance from the police department, Deanna’s family began to take matters into their own hands to locate Deanna. They went to the rear of her residence, where the four females kicked the patio door down, and noticed water flowing all throughout the house. Inside the bathroom, Deanna was found dead. When EMT finally arrived Deanna was transported to the morgue.
Prior to her death, Deanna was a domestic violence victim who had contacted police multiple times to report that the suspect had repeatedly physically abused and was stalking her. During several calls made to the police department, Deanna told the police that she was afraid that calling the police would get her killed, but she called again and again to feel safe. In fact, Deanna called 9-1-1 repeatedly in the weeks and months leading up to her death with the same concerns, that she was being stalked and physically attacked. In one such call to 9-1-1 Deanna said that the suspect was watching her house, and stated “[h]e’s already tried to kill me three times. I’m really just fed up with this. I can’t keep moving and changing my life because of this….”
During other calls with 9-1-1 operators and visits by police, the police department affirmatively indicated to Deanna that all she had to do was call 9-1-1 whenever she saw her attacker at her house and the City would “send the police there immediately.” Deanna was also told that the police department would increase the patrols in her area to help her feel safe, considering her stalking and domestic violence complaints. Despite giving Deanna these reassurances, the police never increased patrols in Deanna’s disadvantaged neighborhood; the police rarely investigated the complaints; and they did not respond timely to her 9-1-1 calls. Deanna’s voice was not heeded or taken seriously.
This is the story of the end or where it began; either way, it is the story of my new forever.
I hadn’t realized I was dealing with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) until I witnessed a violent incident at work.
I experienced a lot of trauma during my lifetime. I didn’t forget, for my trials are unforgettable. . . to me. I suppose I never connected the effects of my injuries: fear, startled easily, rarely trusting, chronic nightmares, reacting dissociatively, distress following trigger, avoidance behavior, detachment, restrictive affect, negative emotions and beliefs, hypervigilance, issues with concentration, irritability, depersonalization and derealization. I had been living with these things for so long I just thought my reactions and behavior were normal. It is normal. My normal. Normal for a person who experienced many things that are abnormal.
The work-place incident occurred while I was employed at the first prison I was hired at. I had been there a little over three years when a new person came to work there. A woman. I’d known her for five years. We were in graduate school together and had been friends; although I ended our friendship because her behavior was out of bounds. She lacked boundaries in a major way and was unpredictable. In hindsight, I probably ended the friendship because her unpredictable behavior caused me a lot of anxiety. She was flakey, unreliable, and socially inept. What it amounted to is, I had difficulty trusting her. How could I trust her if she rarely kept her word and behaved histrionically. I did not like being around her because she always drew attention to herself and I do not like attention. I’ve since learned my triggers and the two things that awaken my senses are unpredictability and folks with personality disorders. The two tend to go hand-in-hand.
It takes mere seconds for my brain to alert me to idiosyncrasies. I consider it a gift: the way being traumatized repeatedly has sharpened my senses to the point of being psychic. I can watch someone,and before I blink, I will know what they are about and what they will do. I haven’t been incorrect yet.
I had been manning the unit alone for a few months due to a shortage of staff; which meant I had a caseload of 30 when I was supposed to have 15. It was manageable. Mostly because my team understood my position. One day my supervisor came to me and said she hired someone and was going to place her on the unit with me. I don’t know why, but I asked,”What’s her name?” When I was informed of this new persons name I felt dread. I said, “Oh, I know her.” My supervisor inquired,”Is it okay? Can you work with her?” I said “Yes, it’s fine,” but I knew I should of said, no. I reckon everything played out the way it was meant to.
I reached out to this woman in an effort to maintain a work environment free of impediments. I texted her and let her know I was informed she had been hired and that she would be placed on my unit. I invited her to lunch and to my surprise she immediately apologized for the downfall of our relationship. She held my hand and cried. She told me how much my friendship meant to her and that she admired me. I trusted her words were sincere, but when it comes to behavior, I’m a ‘wait and see’ type of girl. I thanked her for apologizing and tentatively agreed to try our friendship again.She started at the prison the week following our lunch date. It only took a day or two for her personality issues to surface at work. People can only wear a mask for so long. She was fine toward me, but she targeted two of our colleagues: a female psychologist and a male psychiatrist. Her antics (lying and splitting) disrupted our team. I don’t think my erstwhile girl-friend is evil. I think she has some unresolved issues, and she allowed those issues to spill over into other aspects of her life. She lacks insight, lies, plays games with people, and bullies them.
Watching her in action induced anxiety because her behavior was predatory. I work with predators by virtue of my my employment. I was ill-prepared for similar conduct from confrere’s.
I counseled her about her behavior, which is difficult to do when people lack insight and are personality disordered. I only advised her when she came to me about issues on the unit. Otherwise I minded my business. I would point out how her behavior contributed to the issues she brought forth. She never confirmed or denied her part. She would only look at me.
One day the psychiatrist decided he’d had enough of her bullying him. I was in one of the treatment rooms conversing with the supervising RN and our psychiatrist was seated at a table writing med orders and charting. The blighter entered the room with hands on her hips and chastised the doctor for not being present when she sought him out earlier that morning. The castigation continued with her pointing and waving a finger at the doctor; a man 30 years her senior. He’d grown weary of trying to ignore her and silently collected the charts he had been working in and quietly walked past her, exiting the room.
Roughly three minutes after his egress, he returned, and got in the face of his agitator. He was so close I thought he would strike her. I believe she thought the the same because she raised her hands as if preparing to deflect his blows. He yelled obscenities at her as he told her how out of line she was. When he was finished, he walked out and left us frozen in shock. He returned once more and said a few more words before leaving the unit.
I am stuck in a time where people pretty much think about themselves and disregard how their actions effect those around them. She had the narcissistic traits that forbade her to notice much outside of herself. As a psychiatrist, he knew his contender was personality disordered; yet he allowed her to encroach upon his limits until he exploded, and left collateral damage.
One of my triggers are men yelling and/or exhibiting erratic, domineering, abusive behavior. I didn’t know this at the time; if I had, I would of been prepared for what followed his tirade and may have been able to stave off some of the psychological and physiological effects of being triggered.
Triggered: Imagine typing a word or phrase into Google. Google will search and offer many results. I offer this as a comparison for the way my brain behaves when I am triggered. When I saw and heard the male psychiatrists violent behavior toward his female agitator, my brain, like a computer, searched it’s data bank for similar incidents (unbeknownst to me).
As it searched, it probably cross referenced Dale, who I wrote about in the Stalked Chapters; my ex-husband whom I’ve referenced in several of my essays; Advance America, I wrote about in a piece titled Friday where I had a gun held to the back of my head…so on and so forth.
The result was my brain alerting me that I and my female cohort were in danger. At the time I was not aware of the message my brain was communicating to my body. I have since decided to become somewhat of an expert on the topic of trauma, responses to trauma, and PTSD.
After the event, I suffered anxiety attacks when I thought about going to work, on my way to work and while at work. At first I didn’t know I was having anxiety with panic attacts. I thought my heart was pounding as a result of being severely anemic. I was very anemic at the time and as a result, occasionally my heart would race or drum in my chest and I found it difficult to catch my breath.
Finally, I relented and contacted our Employee Assistance Program (EAP). When they asked me why I needed to speak to a therapist I told them, “Something happened at work and I think I have anxiety associated with PTSD.” I was given the names and contacts for several therapists and by chance (nothing is by-chance) chose one who specialized in PTSD. So when I told him I thought I had PTSD he said, “Yeah, I’m pretty sure you do, but I don’t want to label you.”
“A moment of danger can bring about a temporary cessation of the stream of thinking and thus give you a taste of what it means to be present, alert, aware.”
I learned about this book from: lavenderenergy.tumblr.com
The link below includes many trauma related resources including the article, “Rape Trauma Syndrome:The Journey to Healing Belongs to Everyone.”
Trauma resources are available on the following topics:
Childhood and Adult Sexual Victimization
Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault
Journalist, Survivors and the Media
Male Sexual Abuse and Domestic Violence
PTSD Treatment and Recovery
Partners and Families
PTSD and Health
PTSD and Workplace Issues
Spirituality and Trauma
Trauma Responses in the Aftermath of Disasters
Veterans and Their Families
The following is an easy to understand educational piece; meant to be used as a guide to help you avoid entering into friendships and romantic relationships with people who have personality disorders.
One would also want to avoid professional relationships with these individuals. However, we don’t always get to choose who our co-workers are.
If we understand what and who we are dealing with we can better manage and survive them.
“Forewarned Is Forearmed”
Personality disorders are divided into three clusters: Cluster A, Cluster B and Cluster C [DSM IV: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders].
Cluster A encompasses the “Odd and Eccentric” disorders. Cluster B is defined as dramatic, irrational or erratic personalities. Cluster C persons exhibit anxious and fearful behavior and thinking.
Have you heard the idiom,”I smell a rat.” It means to suspect that something is wrong; that someone caused something wrong.
This is important: trusting your intuition or instinct is key because what Cluster B humans have in common are psychological projection, manipulation of others, emotional/psychological abuse and denial; for they lack insight.
If you sense something is wrong…it probably is.
Psychological projection is when a person defends themselves against an undesirable attribute or impulse. They will vehemently deny their undesirable traits while accusing others of having them.
As a therapist, I find this behavior fascinating to watch. However, it is less than fun to encounter psychological projection in a relationship.
Psychological manipulation occurs when a person aims to change the views and/or behavior of another by using deception and abuse.
Use neglect and abandonment as punishment.
Don’t show empathy or ask questions to gather information.
Don’t notice nor care how you feel.
Deflects blame instead of taking responsibility.
Use withdrawal or withholds attention and affection.
Have trouble apologizing.
Violate boundaries and disrespect requests.
Make continuous disapproving comments about your behavior.
Belittle who you are.
Make you feel as if they are always right.
Constantly corrects or chastises you because “your behavior is incorrect.”
Tells you your opinions or feelings are wrong.
Denial is a defense mechanism where a person is not able to face reality or obvious truths. It is the outright refusal to recognize or admit something. Denial works to protect the ego from things people aren’t ready to cope with.
I recently ended a friendship where I allowed the person to perpetrate all of the above. The experience was terrible and is what prompted me to warn others.
My goal is to intertwine my personal and professional experience(s) to enlighten you.
Before Cluster B personality disorders, I want to illustrate how the aforementioned abuses were perpetrated, the way I went about evaluating myself after the relationship ended and why introspection is very important subsequent to abuse.
Psychological Projection or Freudian Projection is commonly found in personalities functioning at the primitive level like borderline and narcissistic.
When I ended the friendship, the individual said,”You’re a horrible person.” They explained I was horrible because of the way I viewed them (narcissism).
During our relationship, my friend was manipulative and abusive. For instance, when I asked about a behavior (out of curiosity) they would respond by saying I was mean; a saboteur who failed to take responsibility and instead blamed others for things. I was left thinking, ‘Whoa,’I only wanted to know why you stared at people like that.’ Since my questions were never answered; I gathered their responses were given to distract from my original question; about their behavior.
Red Flag: When you ask them about their behavior and they respond histrionically; remarking,”How dare you accuse me…”; they then “flip the script” by telling you, you were the one who harmed them all the while displaying shock at your audacity; in that moment you will need to remember: you know what you saw; you know what you heard, you know what you experienced and the reaction projected onto you is unhealthy and a-typical. Remember who you are. Don’t question your sanity and either cut this person out of your life or set stricter boundaries.
Many of us have experienced psychological manipulation from a parent, friend, co-worker or romantic partner.
You may have entered a friendship or fallen in love with a person only to find out they are a fraud.
Manipulators create false images to lure and trap victims. Their behavior is predatory and often ruthless. Their motivations are selfish and the harm they cause means nothing to them.
As your relationship with a psychological manipulator progresses; you will find that they have gradually become more aggressive. People can only uphold false images for so long.
Manipulators take time to analyze their victims. They are predators whose aim is to learn vulnerabilities; thereby knowing which manipulative tactics work best on their prey.
People usually don’t realize they are being manipulated.
I may be better equipped to recognize signs of manipulation chiefly because of my personal and professional experiences. I work in a prison environment where I must maneuver personality disorders regularly.
When with a psychological manipulator you feel, less strong; less confident; less secure; less sane…
Less than anything you were before you were with them. (Envision what happens to Superman in the presence of Kryptonite. Personality disordered individuals are every one else’s Kryptonite.)
“How can you tell if you are being manipulated? Here are some red flags:
You fall quickly in love with someone who seems to be the perfect man for you, and even think he’s your soul-mate;
He starts turning distant and giving you less attention while denying anything’s wrong or blaming your “character flaws”;
Your feelings have gone from happiness and euphoria to desperation, anxiety and sadness;
You’re obsessing about the relationship, what went wrong, and how to get it back;
You feel off-balance;
You hold two different and conflicting beliefs about him at the same time — one is that he loves you and the other is that he is a predator or an abuser, and you vacillate between the two, not sure which is correct, and continue the relationship.
If you feel less strong, less confident, less secure, less attractive, or in any other way “less than” something you were before you met him you are being manipulated (excerpt from psychopathsandlove.com).”
Your abuser will want you in a position to depend on them.
There will be a grooming phase while they are working to gain your trust.
Once they have collected their data and tested manipulation tactics the abuses will increase.
My former friend used the following methods of psychological abuse:
Neglect or Withholding Affection
(Red Flag: Inconsistent behavior)
The abusers goal is to have you question yourself. When a person questions who they are it makes them vulnerable.
When a psychological abusers caring responses are inconsistent their goal is for you to wonder what you did to deserve the cold shoulder. They will deny they are behaving differently to make you think it’s all in your head.
I studied behavior analysis and use those methods with the population I work with. One method is to intermittently reward for desirable behavior. The idea is for the patient NOT to know when the reward will come and continue to behave the way we want them to; while awaiting their reward.
Abusers use intermittent reinforcement schedules to control their victims.
The victim never knows which one they will get and waits to be rewarded.
Abandonment or Withholding Attention
Lacks Empathy/Doesn’t Ask Questions Gather Information
These type of individuals will ask questions during the grooming process because they are studying you. Once they have the information needed, they are no longer interested in feigning interest or empathy unless doing so will serve them.
(Red flag: One should wonder why they would maintain a relationship with a person incapable of empathizing with them; a person who did not indicate interest in them. BUT, what typically happens is: we stick around wondering why the person is mistreating us. We need to reframe our thinking and wonder why we are allowing ourselves to be mistreated.)
Doesn’t Notice Nor Care How You Feel
I began noticing a trend: when I tried to express my feelings to this friend, they would refuse to address and/or acknowledge them. Instead they’d deflect and deviate from my feelings demanding that I tend to theirs.
If I wanted to talk about the behavior or something they did; a typical response would be that I did something to them and time would be spent exhaustedly discussing how things got from them doing something to me; to me doing something to them. My feelings were seldom validated.
(Red flag: Defense tactic, manipulation tactic, psychological tactic. It’s normal for people to become defensive on occasion when the topic of discussion is something they did. BUT, It’s time to pay attention when the behavior is pathological.)
Many people have trouble admitting when they are wrong. The difference between a person who simply has issues admitting when they are wrong and my former friend is: people like my ex-friend do not see anything wrong with their behavior and thus do not believe there is anything to apologize for. Additionally, this erstwhile friend is a predator. The behavior described is their character. It is who they are, so why should they apologize?
On the contrary, apologies were often demanded of me. On one occasion this person wanted an apology, but refused to tell me what the apology was for. I was told I didn’t need an explanation and that I needed to apologize based on the fact that I was told I did something.
I retorted; I didn’t think it was right to demand an apology. Nor did I think it was right to demand an apology while refusing to tell the person what they are to apologize about. I always ended up apologizing to escape the the psychological duress.
(Red flag: I suggest using the two strike rule. Give a person the benefit of doubt the first time they’ve wronged you and there is an issue with receiving an apology. If you can talk to the person and they are receptive and validating..there is hope. If the person flips out and is closed to conversation about the issue; take a step back and watch to see what happens next time. If they flip out the second time…run.)
Violates Boundaries and Disrespects Requests
No means, No. When a person does not respect your right to say “No!”, there is a serious boundary issue. One should not be harassed for their declination. You are being violated when a person does not honor your right to say no. For instance, you are being violated if you state, “I don’t feel comfortable doing this,” and the violator continues to push the issue or threatens to withdrawal from the relationship if you do not change your “No” to a “yes.”
Constantly Correcting and/or Chastising
Friends. . .true friends do not correct and chastise.
(Red flag: If a person purports to love who you are but as soon as you let them in they try to start influencing you to be different…say good-bye.)
Tells You Your Opinions or Feelings Are Wrong
The goal is to discredit you, belittle you and deprive you of validation.
Discussing feelings and opinions is typically a reciprocal process. Any human is capable of committing any of the above “abuses.” We are human and there are misunderstandings; cultural differences and perhaps someone is being a jerk because they are having a bad day. There is cause for alarm when the abusive behavior is pathological.
(Red flag: The abuser will most likely tell you things about your feelings and opinions you’ve never heard before. Consider that. Ask yourself ‘Why haven’t I been discredited or invalidated in this way EVER before?’
When I observe people in denial I try to determine whether they think I’m a fool or if they are simply unable to accept reality. I believe this friends denial was due to both (trying to mislead me and unable to see their true self).
(Red flag:There will be evidence that something is true, yet the person will continue to deny it because it is too uncomfortable for them to face.)
This year I was traumatized and distraught over my habitual disregard of red flags and danger signs with respect to the humans I permit to populate my life.
I ignored the knots in my stomach and all the telltale signs. I made excuses for their peculiarities and idiosyncratic comports; to others as well as myself. All the while, I knew something was very wrong.
I knew seven years ago when I met this person and I knew more and more every day as they displayed characteristic personality disordered traits and sociopathic behavior.
Approximately one year ago, I started feeling afraid of them. I found them to be erratic and unpredictable. I have worked in environments housing unpredictable humans for a decade and my instincts and intuition when it comes to recognizing their ilk are quite keen.
Why would I continue a relationship with someone I did not need or want in my life? Why would I hang out with someone I feared? Why do I continue to allow disordered people to linger in my life?
Over time, i’ve allowed seven personality disordered individuals into my life; four women and three men.
I recognized my track record and decided I had learned my lesson; but still needed insight into my behavior.
I work in the psychiatric field and have access to many therapists, like myself. Additionally, many of my friends are therapists. I chose to consult with two seasoned psychologists. One only knows me as colleague (Dr. J, woman), the other is a friend (Dr. S, man).
I met with the docs separately and presented the same statement to both of them: “I need help gaining insight into my behavior. We work in this field and are trained to recognize personality disorders, yet, outside of work, I tend to allow disordered individuals to stay in my life. The thing is, I recognize the characteristics of the disorder right away and I still let them stay. I need to figure out why so I can stop the behavior.”
Dr.J:“Do you feel sorry for people who don’t have a lot of friends or those most people wouldn’t pay attention to?”
Me: Yes (realization begins to settle in).
Dr. J: “Ok. You’re a rescuer. You feel sorry for these people and think you can tolerate them until you find yourself overwhelmed and back off. You need to set better boundaries…for yourself.”
Pause. . .
Me:“You’re right. But, I don’t know if I know how to set these boundaries.”
Dr.J: “How old are you?”
Dr.J: “Yes you do. You know how to set boundaries or you wouldn’t be a successful professional and I’ve heard nothing but good things about you.”
Me: “I do know how to set boundaries. I do it all the time. I don’t connect with personality disordered people all the time; but when I do, I don’t know how to get out of the relationship.”
Dr.J: “Because you feel bad you aren’t able to tolerate them in your personal life. Here’s what it is: You need to use your education in your personal life. You know how to apply it at work; you need to apply it in your personal life. You spent all that money on education…use it. I know it’s hard. We work in a prison all day; when we go home, we tend to want to be free. We don’t want to have to think the same way outside of work. You have to.”
Dr.J:“I’m sorry if you don’t want to hear this. I know it’s hard.”
Me:“No. I want to hear it. That’s why I asked. I want the truth. I want to grow.”
My conversation with Dr. J, put things into perspective rather quickly. I know I feel bad for people who are viewed as pathetic, weird, underdogs, weak, unattractive, disparaged, abused, marginalized . . .
I know I like making people feel special. I look very hard to find things to compliment them on. I want to help their self esteem and I exaggerate how good their qualities are because I know they rarely hear positive, uplifting, kind words.
The caveat is: treating a personality disordered person like they are a wonderful and typical human, is a recipe for disaster. We can’t accept them for who they are. They are dangerous. They are human; but different than the rest of us humans. We must use caution when interacting with them. Many are dangerous predators who have the potential to do us great harm.
Dr.S, was initially hesitant. Many of us are offended by the truth and he did not want to jeopardize our relationship. During our pre-conversation I think he came to realize or remember who I am. I am a human in search of truth; who values personal growth.
I told Dr.S what Dr.J told me. Dr. S. agreed, stating,”I certainly think that is part of it.”
His first question, “Didn’t you have an abusive husband?” I answered affirmatively.
There was approximately two minutes of silence…and then I laughed. I told him I understood.
Dr.S: “Yeah. People with Cluster B, personality disorders are invested in getting you to see the world through their distorted view.”
Me: “Yes. And their distorted view scares me. They try to convince me I am not really seeing what I know I am seeing. I associate people like that with a threat and I don’t know how to escape that threat.”
Dr.S: “It’s what they do. They challenge your sense of perspective and you defer and allow the other person to be dominant. They violate boundaries because it’s you saying, A, and they say B. You say, A, and they say B. The cost benefit of that is an implied threat. But what they can’t challenge is your education and your professionalism. There is zero question of your competence or credentials.”
Dr.S asked me if I was familiar with C.G. Jung’s Typologies of Personality. I told him I was. He suggested I think about self identification. He said,”Maybe look at your dominant self and your inferior self. Perhaps part of your inferior self identifies with these personalities you feel sorry for.”
I think part of me does identify with people who are rejected, neglected and shunned; people who are labeled freaks, geeks and weak. As a child, I sought to befriend peers who did not have anyone to play or eat lunch with. I wanted to rescue them from their loneliness. I didn’t want them to feel alone; because I understood alone.
The General Diagnostic Criteria for a Personality Disorder
A. An enduring pattern of inner experience and behavior that deviates markedly from the expectations of the individual’s culture. This pattern is manifested in two (or more) of the following areas:
(1) cognition (i.e., ways of perceiving and interpreting self, other people, and events)
(2) affectivity (i.e., the range, intensity, lability and appropriateness of emotional response)
(3) Interpersonal functioning
(4) impulse control
B. The enduring pattern is inflexible and pervasive across a broad range of personal and social situations.
C. The enduring pattern leads to clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.
D. The pattern is stable and of long duration, and its onset can be traced back at least to adolescence or early adulthood.
E. The enduring pattern is not better accounted for as a manifestation or consequence of another mental disorder.
F. The enduring pattern is not due to the direct physiological effects of a substance or a general medical condition.
ANTISOCIAL PERSONALITY DISORDER
A. There is a pervasive pattern of disregard for and violation of the rights of others occurring since age 15 years, as indicated by three (or more) of the following:
(1) failure to conform to social norms with respect to lawful behaviors as indicated by repeatedly performing acts that are grounds for arrest
(2) deceitfulness, as indicated by repeated lying, use of aliases, or conning others for personal profit or pleasure
(3) impulsivity or failure to plan ahead
(4) irritability and aggressiveness, as indicated by repeated physical fights or assaults
(5) reckless disregard for the safety of self and others
(6) consistent irresponsibility, as indicated by repeated failure to sustain consistent work behavior or honor financial behavior
(7) lack of remorse, as indicated by indifferent to or rationalizing having hurt, mistreated or stolen from another
B. The individual is at least age 18 years.
C. There is evidence of Conduct Disorder with onset before age 15 years.
D. The occurrence of antisocial behavior is not exclusively during the course of Schizophrenia or a Manic Episode.
BORDERLINE PERSONALITY DISORDER
A pervasive pattern of instability of interpersonal relationships, self-image, and affects and marked impulsivity beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts as indicated by five (or more) of the following:
(1) frantic effort to avoid real or imagined abandonment
(2) a pattern of unstable and intense interpersonal relationships characterized by extremes of idealization and devaluation
(3)identity disturbance: markedly and persistently unstable self image or sense of self
(4)impulsivity in at least two areas that are potentially self damaging (spending, sex, substance abuse, reckless driving, binge eating).
(5)recurrent suicidal behavior, gestures or threats, or self-mutilating behavior
(6)affective instability due to marked reactivity of mood (intense episodic dysphoria, irritability, or anxiety usually lasting a few hours and only rarely more than a few days)
(7) chronic feelings of emptiness
(8) inappropriate, intense anger or difficulty controlling anger (frequent displays of temper, constant anger, recurrent physical fights)
(9) transient, stress-related paranoid ideation or severe dissociative symptoms
HISTRIONIC PERSONALITY DISORDER
A pervasive pattern of excessive emotionality and attention seeking, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by five (or more) of the following:
(1) is uncomfortable in situations in which he or she is not the center of attention
(2) interaction with others is often characterized by inappropriate sexually seductive or provocative behavior
(3) displays rapidly shifting and shallow expression of emotion
(4) consistently uses physical appearance to draw attention to self
(5) has a style of speech that is excessively impressionistic and lacking detail
(6) shows self-dramatization, theatrically, and exaggerated expression of emotion
(7) is suggestible (easily influence by others or circumstance)
(8) considers relationships to be more intimate than they usually are
NARCISSISTIC PERSONALITY DISORDER
A pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy behavior), need for admiration, and lack of empathy, beginning in early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by five or more of the following:
(1) has a grandiose sense of self importance (exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements)
(2) is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty or ideal love
(3) believes that he or she is “special” and unique and can only be understood by or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions)
(4) requires excess admiration
(5) has a sense of entitlement (unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations
(6) is interpersonally exploitive (taking advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends)
(7) Lacks empathy: is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others
(8) is often envious of others or believes others are envious of him
(9) shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes
I hope this essay is helpful.