I know too many smart women who get stuck in shitty relationships that jack up their careers and their finances. Well-meaning friends (and even therapists) say things like:
You’re so smart in business. If you could just apply that to your relationships.
Ouch. And these smart women end up in a spiral of shame. After all, they can make almost anything work…except this super painful, incredibly confusing relationship. And because these women are so smart, so successful, and so tenacious, they keep giving this relationship their all.
And what happens? These smart, successful women end up depleted, desperate, and dejected.
Often the relationships start with a bang. Seemingly great men who are narcissistic are skilled at being chameleons. They’re charmers. They come across as “so nice” or “so wonderful” to everyone EXCEPT the woman they’re with. She’s intimately familiar with his gaslighting, his crazy-making, and his 180-degree personality flip … and instead of running away as quickly as possible, she signs on for more… Why? Because women often feel a sense of pride and accomplishment in maintaining relationships. Women often take on more responsibility than is good for them, and they invest heavily in others who “have potential” or “are hurting” or “seemed so nice in the beginning.”
I believe it’s out of the goodness of our hearts that we sign on for more shenanigans. We aren’t wounded, and we aren’t broken. We are simply not honoring our own voices. There’s no pathology here; there’s just a strategy that doesn’t work.
Let me rephrase: THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH YOU IF YOU ARE STUCK IN A BAD RELATIONSHIP WITH A NARCISSISTIC PARTNER.
I know that’s hard to take in. I know that you’re being told you’re the one with the problem… That it’s all your fault… That if you just changed a little bit things would get better. DO NOT LISTEN TO THAT BULLSHIT.
The first step that will help you move forward is this: Stop believing the words that come out of your partner’s mouth. He will claim to love you one minute, and then he’ll claim that you’re the hardest person in the world to love. He’s a master at flipping the script, and it’s going to leave you more confused than informed. Just stop believing him, no matter what he says. He honestly cannot differentiate the true from the false, and you cannot afford to buy into his shenanigans.
The second step that will help you move forward is this: Be more invested in your peace than in anything else; commit to your own peace of mind. This person knows you well, and he will test your patience. He will say and do things that trigger you beyond your limits. We’ll talk about that. And this step will take a LOT of practice. You’ll probably do really well in some circumstances and then find yourself in the serial of shame in others. That is expected. Just keep bringing yourself back to this mantra, I can choose peace rather than this.
The third step that will help you move forward is this: Talk to a compassionate and understanding person who can mirror and validate your feelings-you’ll feel sane and relieved when you do. There are plenty of people from new age thought who will tell you, “You’re responsible for creating this. How are you playing a part?” I know they’ll say that because my clients tell me that’s what they hear from people they’ve sought help from. YIKES! And NO. You’re in a relationship with a man who makes you doubt yourself. The last thing you need is to wonder how you created these circumstances. Rather, you need to hear, “Yes, he’s flipping the script. Yes, he’s gaslighting. Yes, he’s acting abusively.” If that’s what you feel, before you can move on, you need to know that your feelings are accurate. YOU ARE NOT CRAZY. Find someone who can help you feel sane.
The fourth step that will help you move forward is this: Begin the practice of becoming aware of your own feelings, responses, body sensations, and thoughts. If it helps, write them down. Notice yourself at every level—mind, body, spirit. Notice how you feel around other people. Notice how you feel when you’re alone. Notice how you feel when you’re with your partner. Just notice. Compare. Contrast. Becoming aware of yourself in various situations will clue you in to your own signals for safety and trust.
The fifth step that will help you move forward is this: Build your support network. This might be an online group, it could be working with a coach, it might be your mastermind group or your book club. It could be all of these things. Suss out who’s a safe person to talk with and who’s not. The biggest clue for me? Safe people are gentle and kind with me.
Five Steps to Help You Move Forward
Stop believing the words that come out of your partner’s mouth
Be more invested in your peace than in anything else; commit to your own peace of mind
Talk to a compassionate and understanding person who can mirror and validate your feelings-you’ll feel sane and relieved when you do
Begin the practice of becoming aware of your own feelings, responses, body sensations, and thoughts
Build your support network
The process of moving forward is going to be a challenging one; it may be more challenging than anything you’ve ever tackled in your career. That doesn’t mean you’re inept; it simply means your liberation is the task at hand—and you have the capacity to take on this challenge. As you walk through breaking free from the trauma, anxiety, and sadness you’ve been experiencing, a new and wonderful life will unfold.