Many folks these days have had the unfortunate experience of getting into and then barely surviving a toxic, abusive relationship. And those who’ve had such an experience know how difficult it can be to restore one’s emotional sanity, pick up the pieces, and move on. Often, the damage resulting from such relationships is multi-dimensional, so it can a fair amount of time to fully “recover.” Because the recovery process is ongoing, finding just the right kind of support is crucial. And that in itself can be a challenge sometimes, which only complicates the picture.
I’ve written several times before about toxic relationship survival and recovery (see, for example: Surviving a Manipulator: Like Getting Whiplash, Toxic Relationship Aftermath: Doubt, Mistrust, and Paranoia?, Toxic Relationship Aftermath – A Wrap-Up, Moving on after an Abusive Relationship) but because so many people continually write me asking for even more on the topic (requests for more information on toxic relationship survival are second only to requests for referrals to therapists who “get it” with respect to dealing with character disturbance – a request that regrettably I’ve never been in a position to adequately fill, although that may soon change in the aftermath of my upcoming series of professional training workshops through Cross Country Seminars), I thought it wise to introduce a new series of articles that will incorporate real life examples (as always, with potentially identifying information altered to preserve anonymity) to illustrate how one goes about reclaiming one’s life and empowering oneself in the aftermath of an abusive situation and gains the resources to minimize the likelihood of being similarly victimized in the future.
While I have hundreds if not thousands of examples to share, this is one series of articles where the input of the readers has the potential to be of particularly high value. Most folks visiting this blog know all-too-well what it’s like to be deceived on the front end of a relationship about the character of a partner, to endure various kinds of subtle and not so subtle abuse, to struggle with finding the proper support resources, etc., and to deal with the doubt, anger, shaken sense of self and the myriad of other issues that accompany having been involved in some way with any of the many disturbed and disordered characters out there. And while many folks have found the frameworks and principles I advance in my books In Sheep’s Clothing and Character Disturbance to be both validating and illuminating, there’s no substitute for the kind of real-life illustrations of those principles only actual survivors can provide. So it’s my hope that through a combination of the illustrative vignettes I’ll be presenting and the mindful sharing of the commentators, all of the readers will derive the both kind and measure of support they need to maximally empower themselves.
One particularly “touchy” aspect of toxic relationship recovery – but one that simply can’t be ignored or shied away from in a discussion of this kind – is how to sort through one’s own vulnerabilities, possible “neuroses,” and other emotional issues in a mindful, honest, yet self-respecting way. In their justifiable anger and hurt, survivors can sometimes be tempted to view this self-reckoning process as a type of “victim blaming,” which it definitely must not be. Besides, when it comes to the most skilled and conniving of disturbed characters, even the healthiest among us can be duped. As I point out in In Sheep’s Clothing, manipulators (i.e. covert-aggressors) can be quite adept at veiling their true nature, a nature that sadly all-too-often only becomes evident after they’ve succeeded in exploiting and/or abusing their targets. But most of us have emotional and personality vulnerabilities that disturbed characters are prone to exploit, so a mindful introspection devoid of unnecessary self-blame can be a vital aspect of avoiding future jeopardy. I was just asked about this again recently, so you can expect it to be addressed in the upcoming series. Perhaps nothing is more empowering than really knowing, accepting, and taking ownership of oneself, in part because of the increased ability one gains better appraise the character of others. The other piece, of course, is having a framework for understanding character issues in general and a greater awareness of the signs of character disturbance, manipulation tactics, etc., which is what I’ve long striven to put forward in my books and other writings. Knowing yourself, knowing what disturbed and disordered characters are all about, how they operate, etc., and acquiring the skills to deal more effectively with all the tactics you’re likely to encounter in our character-impaired age is what personal empowerment is all about.
Character Matters will again be a live program this Sunday at 7 pm EDT, so I can take your calls. Listernership has already exceeded expectations and continues to expand a truly heartening rate. And for the most part, the character of the call-ins to the program has been quite remarkable. So tune in, and if you have a mind to, join the discussion! You never know when a question you want addressed or an experience you want to share is just what someone else needs to hear.