Are you in a relationship with a narcissist?

Are you in a relationship with a narcissist?

Here’s a scary statistic; 35% of women report either a current or past relationship with a narcissist.  35%.  Are you one of us?  Are you uncertain?  Let me help you clarify.

~ You firmly believe that your partner is smarter, wiser & more capable of managing life.  You depend on him/her to help you navigate your life because they have helped you realize that you are unable to do this on your own.  Your thoughts & choices cannot be trusted because you have made some grave errors in the past.  He or she is more likely to provide a solution to the sticky situations you find yourself in.  Without their constant guidance, instruction or input you would not be able to complete even the simplest of daily tasks.  Tasks you thought you could manage, such as choosing appropriate outfits, how to properly clean a home, effective discipline for children and managing finances are too much for you.

~  Your partner is very compassionate about the abuse you have suffered in the past and understands that because of the damage done to you, you are too broken to survive on your own.  He or she is your protector, your hero.  Your partner can see through the manipulation of your family & friends.  He or she knows that you are unsafe with them alone.  Your partner has suggested that you start to create distance between you & the people you thought loved you.  To keep you safe from these people causing further harm to you, perhaps you should cut ties all together, because your partner is the only one you can trust to keep you safe.

~  Your partner is always considerate enough to point out that little changes would be a great improvement.  “It’s too bad you can’t put together an outfit like her.  She’s hot in those heals with her hair up like that.”  He is also very careful to point out that you do not suit an up-do in heals, because it makes you look like a hooker.

~  Your partner encourages open dialogue to discuss the relationship.  You feel valued when you offer suggestions for improvement and he explains the reality of your situation: “I wish you looked at me they way you look at her.” “I look at her that way because she is strong & confident, something you will never be because you’re too broken.”

~  There have been times when you have doubted the wisdom and the authority of your partner, but each time you question this, he is able to mention a friend or co-worker who feels the same way he does, thus proving that you are once again to broken to form an opinion about anything.

~  You are fully aware that you are damaged goods and are so grateful that your partner was willing to take pity on you and love you in spite of your past.  You are unlovable to everyone and without him to save you, you would be lost.

If any of this sounds familiar, then you are in a relationship with a narcissist.  Let’s insert the appropriate terms for each point above:

Gaslighting – creating uncertainty in your thoughts, beliefs & abilities.  This is used to diminish your self-worth and create dependency on the narcissist.

Isolation – creating distance between you & your support system.  With your family & friends out-of-the-way, your abuser has more control.  You are no longer guided by outside positive influences and are fully dependant on him.

Shaming – sounds like a compliment, but leaves you feeling small & insecure.  Used to reduce your self-confidence.

Deflecting – blames you for their indiscretions.  Narcissists are unable to accept responsibility for their actions.  They deflect accountability and choose to be the victim of others.

Triangulation – Bring a third-party into a conversation to back up their thoughts & beliefs.  Used to force you to second guess your thoughts & beliefs.

Projection – they are unable to accept their own feelings of worthlessness, so they cast these feelings on to you in such a way that you are convinced they are true.  They project their insecurities onto you.

How do I know this?

Because I was one of the 35%.  I was in an 11-year relationship with a narcissist.  I was told that he was forced to sleep with other women because my being pregnant made me fat (I gained 12 pounds in 9 months).  I was told that cocaine & hookers were necessary because of the burden I placed on him.  I was told that he deserved the settlement from my injury for dragging my sorry ass around all these years.  I was told that I was lucky to have him because no one else would put up with my stupidity & laziness.

I was also told that it didn’t have to be this way.  I heard whispers of strength & determination.  I saw the fear in the eyes of my daughters.  I heard the inner voice tell me that this is not what I would choose for them.  This is not the example I wanted them to structure theirs lives on.  They were worth more than this.  They deserved more than this.  They, my girls, gave me the strength & the courage to want more, believe more and hope for more.

How do you break free from a narcissist?

Start by listening for that voice.  The voice buried deep inside you that tells you this isn’t right.  The voice that brought you to this article.  The voice that has led you to secretly seek out alternative solutions, choices & possibilities.  Look around you.  Find your source of strength.  Is it in your children, your family or even a memory?  When you’re ready, reach out.  There is always someone close by that will support you.

  1. Contact your local abuse shelter: they will help you with a safety plan, housing & Legal Counsel
  2. Contact your local Police & tell them you are planning to leave a toxic relationship& ask for a Police Escort if needed. Let them know of any weapons in the home.
  3. Begin to slowly save & hide money.
  4. Pack a bag of essentials & leave it with a friend
  5. Download this Safety Plan for Domestic Violence 

You cannot fix this person.  They do not see themselves as the problem.  They feel you are the problem.

The honeymoon (those moments when you are treated like a queen, the apologies, the gifts, the promises) won’t last.  You know this.  This is just another manipulation tool to get you to stay.


You are never alone in this.  There are thousands of narcissists in this world, but there are millions of survivors.  When survivors band together, we begin to thrive, to dream, to create & to conquer!!  Together, we will change this world.  We’re ready for you to join us.  Let us know how we can help.

Click here to read more stories of survival.

Andrea Scarborough
Life / Parenting Coach

How to Not Raise Self-entitled Children – Part 2

This Blog Series ” How to Not Raise Self-entitled Children”  is focusing on reducing self-entitlement.  If you haven’t already, please find the first in the series here.

In the first posts we discussed the importance of the family working together to maintain the home.  By everyone pitching in to do the their part, we have reduced the strain on the Parents to do it all, taught our children valuable skills to ensure their survival in the real world and begun to insert some of the Essential Life Skills that are so import to their individual success.

“It is not our job to fix our children, it is our job to teach our children how to fix themselves.”

Essential Life Skillsessential life skills

  1. Interpersonal relationships are not developed by chatting with people on line through video games or messaging.  This is real, face-to-face, human interaction.  The opportunity to look another person in the eye & understand their point of view.  The greatest lessons come from our elders who have lived, lost & learned.  Grandparents, neighbours all have a story to tell.  Encourage your child to listen.
  2. Communication is the greatest tool we have as humans.  We have the ability to express our thoughts, concerns & opinions.  This is what sets us apart from the animal kingdom.  Encourage your child to speak with respect & compassion. Encourage them to listen to understand & not listen to respond.  If you are able to do this with them, they will learn how to do it in their own lives.
  3. Problem-Solving is a really tough one for parents.  We don’t want our children  to fall, but it is necessary.  Our children need to learn to resolve their own issues.  Helping them talk through problems, exploring different options, choosing the appropriate action & then assessing the outcome will go a long way to reducing the number of problems your child encounters.
  4. Critical-Thinking is key.  This is the lessons we have learned from past mistakes that we have problem-solved and applying this information to current & future situations.  “Last time I went out in the rain, I didn’t take an umbrella & I was sick for a week.  Today, I will take an umbrella.
  5. Imagination / Creativity is how we develop a strong sense of self.  This is where we learn what we like, what we don’t like, our strengths, weakness and our passion.  Help your child to explore a variety of outlets to find whatever it is that will light their flame!
  6. Connectedness; true, honest & deep connections are what keep us grounded.  Humans were designed to live in communities and having a strong connection to this community will keep you safe from harm.  “You have to stand for something, or you’ll fall for anything“. Teaching your child to stand with a group of individuals who are searching for a similar outcome, will prevent them from being recruited by negativity.  Help your child to surround themselves with positive, supportive, like-minded people who will nurture their sense of self.
  7. Sense of self is knowing who you are and firmly believing in that person.  When a child has the freedom to explore their likes/dislikes and effectively communicate that, we are encouraging their individuality.  We may not like everything they do, but as long as it isn’t illegal, immoral or fattening, give it your blessing.
  8. Natural Consequences are a must for our future adults.  Imagine if we have world leaders who did not understand the value of natural consequences.  Leaders who believed they could do, say & act anyway those chose, regardless of how it affected those around them.  It would be a truly sad planet.  “You are free to make your own choices, but you are not free from the consequences of those choices.”  Hold you children accountable to their indiscretions.  Be sure they know that every decision they make has an effect on someone else.
  9. Emotional Regulation is the ability to self-sooth, calm strong emotions and release negative energy. Help your child to understand the array of complex emotions that we all have.  Use feeling words while talking to your child.  “That must have been frustrating” or “That’s really sad, I’m sorry to hear that.”  By inserting the proper emotions, children can then begin to process the situation.
  10. Patience is the ability to understand that good things come to those that wait.  By not giving your child everything they seem to want right now, you are instilling an understanding that one must work to earn privileges.  This is where their work ethic will be taught.

There is a very simple & effective way to teach your children everything they need to know about Basic & Essential Life skills & I will talk about that in my next post


I’d love to have a strategy session with you, to create simple, effective strategies you can begin to implement and see amazing results.  

This session is FREE and you will gain valuable insight into helping your child create a life they are proud to live!!  

Schedule your FREE Parent Strategy Assessment Session NOW!


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Victim vs. Survivor

I am not a victim anymore.

I spent the better part of my life as a victim.  A victim of abandonment, bullying, sexual assault, abuse and others opinions of me and as a result,  all this lead to a very negative self-image, low-self-esteem and a belief that this was how it was supposed to be.  It was difficult to see past all the negativity because  I was surrounded by it, I physically experienced it, heard it, and I repeated it in my head.  It seemed as though it was a slow, never-ending journey down a very dark tunnel void of light, hope and love.

The Journey Begins

I am a survivor.
~ Patricia Buckley – I am not a victim.

Years ago, a friend of mine strongly urged me to attend a retreat for Co-dependency and  I’m not sure why I went, but I did.  Thinking back, I wanted to be surrounded by people that would support my role as a victim.  Turns out, I was wrong but I didn’t want to be.  I fought the messages that were offered because proving them wrong was the only way to survive this hell.  “Do you know what has happened to me all my life?  This isn’t my fault!!”  I would demand.

Through guidance, gentle persuasion and unconditional acceptance, I slowly began to change my thinking because  I was not a victim!!  I was a SURVIVOR!  The best part of being a Survivor is that to date – I have a 100% success rate!!!  The abandonment, bullying, sexual assault, abuse and all those harsh criticisms…. didn’t kill me!!  I survived!!

I Survived

The longer I survived, the stronger I became and with strength, came determination.  Determination grew into confidence.  Confidence had a sneaky way of nurturing self-esteem and a desire for more.  Ever so slowly, my thought process began to change and as a result, I began to believe in myself.

I am a survivor.
I survived that which was supposed to kill me.  Survivor!

Over the years, this transformation has had a lovely balance of ebb & flow to it.  A little rhythm that keeps me wanting more.  I still have hurdles, but they are manageable and they are the moments that allow me to reflect on the journey and assess my current situation and ultimately, perhaps choose an alternate path.

Without the hurdles of my past, I would not be the person I am today.  It took a lot of work, and as a result, I can honestly tell you, that I am a survivor and will never be anything less!!

Surviving Life with a Teenager

Surviving Life with a Teenager

Back when we were teens

Twenty-five – thirty years ago, the world was a different place.  The internet was in it’s infancy, cellphones were massive & usually installed in your car and satellite dishes were just making their way into homes (or backyards).  Kids played outside with their friends and were involved in after-school programs, community groups and sports teams.  At home, there were chores to help out around the house.  In high school, you had a part-time job with the responsibility of getting there unsupervised.  School projects were researched in the library using a very heavy set of Encyclopedia’s and pictures cut out of magazines (cut & paste had a much different definition).  If there was a question to be answered, you had to go find an adult.   Back in the 80’s or 90’s, life was a little simpler and the world just a little smaller.  Our basic needs were met through interpersonal relationships that do not exist today.

Today, with the internet at our finger tips and cable TV, our children have access to information 24/7.  Not all the information is helpful or accurate.  Today, we have an extreme influx of Teens diagnosed with Depression & Anxiety.  Today, we also have a government that feels they are being helpful by making prescriptions free to those under 25 (but we’ll talk about that in a later post).

I recently read an article  by Johann Hari “Is everything you think you know about depression wrong?“**  Hari talks about his search for answers regarding his own clinical diagnosis and comes across some very interesting points to ponder.  The outcome is a new thought process surrounding depression & anxiety – yes there are biological components in some cases that may require medications combined with therapy to over-come, however; there are key factors to how we live today that directly contribute to these diagnosis.

So, let’s compare 1980 to 2018.

 

In the 80’s, kids played outside.  Their friends were physically connected, by streets, school, teams, relations.

Face to face relationships teach us a multitude of skills:

  • Interpersonal skills
  • Social skills
  • Team-work
  • Communication
  • Problem-solving
  • Compromise
  • Accountability
  • Honesty
  • Self-esteem
  • Patience

Physically connecting with people also serves our basic psychological needs of belonging, acceptance and value.  We, as humans need to belong to a group.  We were not designed to be solitary and thus we live in colonies or families and communities.  We need to feel as though we are a valued member of the group; our thoughts, feelings and opinions matter.

It is believed that some diagnosed cases of depression or anxiety are rooted in denying basic psychological needs and thus we have the influx that we are seeing today.  There is also growing research that tells us that technology has the same effect on the brain as heroine or cocaine.  Creating a strong, debilitating addiction.

Creating Stability

If you are depressed and anxious, you are not a machine with malfunctioning parts. You are a human being with unmet needs. The only real way out of our epidemic of despair, is for all of us, together, to begin to meet those human needs – a deep connection, to the things that really matter in life. ~ Johann Hari

If you have a Teen that is struggling, take a look at the broader picture.  Are their basic needs being met? Do they have the skills they need to succeed?  Do they belong to a group?  Do they feel valued?

When one member of the family struggles, the entire family struggles.  I have found that the best way to create stability in the family is to look at the family as a whole.  Raising children today is difficult, I know that.  We are rather quick to point the blame to external forces rather than admit that perhaps we are less than perfect.  There are no perfect parents, but I will tell you, the best ones are the parents who are willing to take a look at themselves to find solutions for their children.  It’s not about what you’re doing wrong, it’s about finding processes that fit your family, and the needs of every individual in your family.

Getting your family back on track may not be a long, complicated process.  We may be able to find solutions and implement processes  that will see dramatic results in as little as 6 weeks.  Together we will explore the processes that work for your family, and through simple conversation, a few fun & engaging games, we will begin to implement strategies that ensure basic needs are met.  We will expand your awareness and allow you to visualize your family’s unlimited possibilities.

Let’s start a conversation.

I’m ready when you are,

Loads of love,

~Andrea

 

Reference:

**Johann Hari 

Family Structure

Inner Workings of a Family

Family, the first group of people we know.  We depend on our family to help us create a sense of self.  Our Family gives us anchor in a crazy world.

Think of someone you know who has suffered a heart attack.  The immediate response is not to shame the heart for stepping out of line.  We do not ask the kidneys or the liver to pick up the slack.  We certainly don’t kick the heart out until it changes its behaviour and try to go on with out it.   We don’t blame some external force for the heart attack.

To effectively treat a heart attack, we examine all aspects of the body, internal functions & external forces to create a well-rounded plan to prevent further episodes.  We look for ways to reduce both internal & external stressors.  We improve our diet, our physical exercise and work to reduce the toxins going into the body.  We find ways to reduce our stress at work & at home.  A heart attack is a symptom of a much larger problem – lifestyle.  To prevent another episode, we change our life-style.

The same can be said for how we address challenges within the family.  A struggling child is merely a symptom of a dysfunction within the family.    These dysfunctions can be addressed quickly providing the family as a whole is willing to look at both the internal & external stressors and adjust the lifestyle of the family to prevent further episodes.  But how do we do this?

Join a Community of Parents just like you!!

Let’s first begin by defining your role.  I’ve met many families where roles are reversed – the man is the mom and the woman is the dad, or same sex parents, or platonic friendships raise the children, whatever your family looks like, let’s first figure out who you are.

The Mom

  • Nurturer – provides the soft, emotional guidance to children
  • Nester – creates a loving, stable environment
  • Sustainer – provides essentials to sustain life – nourishment, medical care
  • Teacher – promotes transition of milestones – sitting up, first steps
  • Soft skills – interpersonal relationships, empathy, critical thinking
  • Emotional – guided by gut instinct and emotions

The Dad

  • Provider – earns the most money
  • Protector – creates a level of intimidation to outsiders
  • Gatherer – brings in food, clothing, shelter
  • Disciplinarian – teaches the hard lessons – natural consequences
  • Hard Skills – problem solving, using tools, maintenance of home/car, catch a ball
  • Logical – guided by reason & logic

These are just guidelines.  The Mom may be the nurturer, the nester, the sustainer, the provider and the teacher of hard skills.  My point is, which one best describes you and your role in the family?

As we continue in this post, these are the terms I will be using, not the stereotypical mom is a girl, dad is a boy.

Roles of the Children

The children take on various roles as well.  Depending on the level of conflict in your home, your children will adapt to their surroundings. Psychologists have studied family dynamics and determined that there are 4 personas a child will develop to manage their family situation.

The Pleaser
  • Takes care of the emotional parent and the other siblings.
  • He/she tries to ease the stress in the family.
  • Steps in during times of conflict to try to minimize the situation.
The Scapegoat
  • This child is blamed for the faults of others.
  • The result is anger and self-defeating behaviours.
The Hero
  • The golden child.
  • Works hard at school, get good grades, helps around the house.
  • Truly believes that if she/he is perfect enough, the family problems will go away.
The Lost Child
  • Quiet, withdrawn, depressed & anxious.
  • Chooses to be alone.
  • Takes the blame for the issues in the family.

Murray Bowen – The Bowen Centre for the Study of Family

It is the nature of a family that its members are intensely connected emotionally. Often people feel distant or disconnected from their families, but this is more feeling than fact. Families so profoundly affect their members’ thoughts, feelings, and actions that it often seems as if people are living under the same “emotional skin.” People solicit each other’s attention, approval, and support and react to each other’s needs, expectations, and upsets. The connectedness and reactivity make the functioning of family members interdependent. A change in one person’s functioning is predictably followed by reciprocal changes in the functioning of others. Families differ somewhat in the degree of interdependence, but it is always present to some degree.

This “emotional skin” that Bowen speaks of explains a lot about what happens in your family.  When your teenager screams something very hurtful at you, you take this personally.  She has rocked you to your core.  No-one will ever hurt you as much as a member of your family because you all share the same deep-rooted emotional connection.

When your children were little, you could see that their emotions mirrored that of the emotional parent.  They were learning from you how to react to situations.  If you were scared, they were scared, if you were stressed, they were stressed.  You eventually picked up on this and tried to shield your emotions from your children.  But it always seemed as though you had a fussy child at the most inconvenient time.  Temper tantrums would erupt when you had to race around to complete errands, meet deadlines, clean the house and put on your happy pants because the in-laws were coming for dinner.  Today was not the day for this child to be miserable – you did not have time!!  The reality of this scenario is that your child was simply mirroring your stress & frustration.  Their little worlds were out of balance because you were out of balance.  You ask them what’s wrong and the usual answer was “I don’t know.”  How could they know, they were just picking up on your emotions and reacting the only way they knew how.

During times of adult stress, we tend to focus our attention on the stressor; bills, errands, relationship, politics or world drama.  We create space between us and our children to shield them from these stressors.  Our role as parents is to protect our children.  However; we have unknowingly created the opposite effect.  As we will discuss in a future module, the connection between family members is so strong that it will predict future outcomes.  Children develop a sense of self by watching you.  They learn what scares them, what pleases them and what nourishes them.  Their likes, dislikes all come from the family.

The less developed a person’s “self,” the more impact others have on his functioning and the more he tries to control, actively or passively, the functioning of others. The basic building blocks of a “self” are inborn, but an individual’s family relationships during childhood and adolescence primarily determine how much “self” he develops. Once established, the level of “self” rarely changes unless a person makes a structured and long-term effort to change it. – Murray Bowen

In short, if a parent is unable to truly connect with a child, this alters their sense of self, their place in the family.  They will search for ways, either actively, or passively to find a connection – to someone or something.  This is the root of family issues.  This is where the regression started.

In a regression, people act to relieve the anxiety of the moment rather than act on principle and a long-term view.– Murray Bowen

Let’s fast forward to today.  You are sitting here desperately seeking information on how to help your teenage child.  They have lost their way.  They are struggling, and it is manifesting in a variety of ways; poor grades at school, victim of bullying, hanging out with the wrong crowd, lack of motivation, experimenting with substances, self-harm or addicted to technology.

You are a strong parent and your child is not living in line with the values you tried to teach them.  You taught them to respect others, do their best, and be a productive member of society.  So where did it all go wrong?  How did we get here?

Think about the emotional connection you have with this child, the connection they have with other members of the family.  Could it be that they feel a disconnect?  Whether or not it is physically present, could they perceive themselves as an outsider, or not worthy?  Was there a time, when your attention was focused elsewhere?

I want to take some time here and explain that I too had a child that acted out.  She was the Lost Child, spent most of her time alone, engaged in self-harm and lacked enough drive or determination to pursue her own goals in life.  I spent countless hours searching for answers.  We spent years going from one psychologist to another, treatment programs, emergency rooms, and I eventually had to take a year off work to care for her after a rather serious attempt at suicide.  I felt as though I had failed her.  She was this vibrant, beautiful little girl with an infectious smile, and somehow, she became withdrawn and highly introverted.

In my years of research, I discovered several helpful hints and an equal number of not-so-helpful hints.  My goal is to spare you the years of searching for answers.  I may not have them all here, but this will be an excellent place to start.  This will give you the foundation to move forward.

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Like you, while I was raising my children, life happened; abusive relationships, divorce, single parent, job loss, and older daughter became seriously ill and was involved in a potentially life-threatening car accident.  These are things that I couldn’t control.  I now know, that these are all considered trauma.  Traumas that I did not have time to deal with.  Traumas that I pushed aside for the betterment of my children.  This is where my younger daughter lost her connection.  I am very happy to report, that we have worked hard to re-establish her sense of self & her sense of connection.  We still aren’t perfect, but we keep trying.

Today, all my children have tools that will serve them well as they become parents.  We have learned to openly, respectfully & effectively communicate.  We have learned to lean on one another and rally to support each other.  Together, we have created a legacy that will continue through future generations.  You can do this too.

I can’t promise you it will be easy, but it will be worth it!!

It is my hope that you have a greater understanding of how you got to where you are.  My intent is not to blame you for the position you find yourself in, but to create awareness.  Dr. Phil, and so many others like him, tend to blame the parents for the mistakes of the child.  This is not my intention.  My intention is to create awareness that while you were busy, parenting, working and reacting to the situations before you, things happened.  Things that are not apparent in the beginning.  Sir Isaac Newton said, “Every action has an opposite & equal reaction.”  This is what happened.  You did not fail your child or your family, you simply reacted with the information you had at the time.

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