Grieving the Death of Addiction

by Lindsay Kramer on November 20, 2014 in Living in Recovery, Love and Relationships

According to therapist Lindsay Kramer, an addiction is a lot like a relationship: at first, both addiction and a new relationship lead to feelings of excitement and euphoria, craving more time with the new beloved, and putting a high priority on spending time together. But it’s not long before the addiction becomes a dysfunctional relationship, where the dependence on the drug becomes so intense that it takes an ever-increasing amount of time, money, and energy to maintain.

For someone who’s going through the addiction recovery process, there comes a point where they realize that they can’t have a healthy relationship with the object of their addiction, and that they have to say goodbye to it forever. And for most people, this gives rise to a strong emotional response that can include all kinds of feelings—anxiety, sadness, anger, grief—that can feel very confusing.

Lindsay Kramer explains, in this article at, that thinking of the addiction in terms of a relationship can help recovering addicts work through these feelings and come to a state of acceptance—where they can understand and accept the fact that addiction is no longer an option, and can look forward to a new life without wanting to return to the old one –

As a systemic therapist, I look at most everything through the lens of relationships. In working with my substance-dependent patients, the analogy of addiction to a drug is no different.

Like a new relationship, at first, the use is thrilling. There’s the high, the intimacy, the butterflies that come from anticipation of time spent together. When that time becomes more frequent, the attachment becomes stronger. Then comes the increased time spent getting high, followed by the isolation, the cravings for the drug, and placing the addiction as the only priority in one’s life. The feeling of love may even be developed.

I wasn’t having an affair with any other person, but Oxy became my best friend. I was in love with it and never wanted to be separated from it.

The dependence continually intensifies, money is spent to excess, and the “relationship” can become a full-time job to maintain. The drug becomes a permanent fixture that will never leave the now-addict. What once was exploratory and fun becomes dependent, shameful, and confining, further polarizing the relationship with addiction from the real relationships with everyone else. “My husband actually thought I was having an affair because of the time spent away from the family. He knew I was lying about something, but he couldn’t figure out what was happening,” a patient once reported to me in explaining her relationship with prescription opiates. “I wasn’t having an affair with any other person, but Oxy became my best friend. I was in love with it and never wanted to be separated from it.”

In my recovery-based work, I personify addiction as means to help my patients understand the severity of their addiction and their need to separate themselves from it in order to progress within their recoveries. In working with these patients in treatment, there is a significant emotional response when they come to understand that in order to move forward in their recovery, they must first say goodbye to the notion of ever being able to have a healthy relationship with their addiction.

This is where the analogy of the death comes into fruition.

Why does the relationship with addiction have to be explained as grieving a death?

Thankfully, relationships with people can be impaired or improved. People can grow and work to resolve problems. Conversely, one may try and get back together with their toxic “ex,” and they may find that the honeymoon stage is transitory and the same underlying problems continue to surface. I equivocate the latter process to a relapse; in order for us to be healthy, we must separate ourselves from the unhealthy. And as morbid as it may seem, comparing the relationship with addiction to a death provides a concrete finality that addicts need in order to reach the stage of acceptance. They must understand that despite how much a part of them loves their addiction and wants a relationship with it forever, their addiction will never be able to reciprocate healthy love in return.

“They must understand that despite how much a part of them loves their addiction and wants a relationship with it forever, their addiction will never be able to reciprocate healthy love in return.”-LINDSAY KRAMER

Death in this regard is the symbolization of the ending of a very deep relationship. It’s important to endure the grief process in order to understand the depth of the addiction itself, but to surrender also means to accept the death and move on from it.

How does one go about applying the analogy of grief into addiction treatment?

In working with grief itself, I’ve come to understand that 1.) it [unfortunately] is a lifelong process, and 2.) it endures many stages, several times over. That’s when the Kübler-Ross model (1969) of the five stages of grief comes into the limelight. For those needing a refresher, the stages are Denial, Bargaining, Anger, Depression and Acceptance. When applying this analogy of grieving the death of addiction, I explain and process each stage with my patients in order for us to understand where they are in their overall recovery.

    • Denial: This is addiction in its active stage, and there is difficulty in acknowledging that the consequences of maintaining this relationship outweigh the benefits of the relationship itself. Denial may present as the addict not wanting to surrender the relationship due to fear of change, fear of suffering, and/or fear of “doing the work” involved in the grieving (i.e. recovery) process.Denial in this stage appears as taking the stance of the problem being everyone else’s and not of their own. “I’ve got this handled; I can manage it on my own.” The addict is not yet connected to the toxicity of this relationship and will defend it to others. A common stance in this stage may be, “why would it hurt me?” Perhaps, the addict is aware of the pain that the relationship has caused to others, but they are still in disbelief that it would ever cause pain to him/herself.

“In this stage, the addict is desperate to demonstrate to everyone else that the relationship is not toxic by attempts to prove that ‘things will be different this time’…”-LINDSAY KRAMER

    • Bargaining: This is an area in which relapses can occur, if any sobriety has been achieved. The addict attempts to bargain with recovery by means of “only just having a few drinks,” trying to maintain friendships with using friends, or by not declaring one’s sobriety to others in attempt to minimize the severity of their addiction. “I didn’t tell anyone I was sober outside of the people in my meetings, and I ended up relapsing several weeks after I got out of treatment,” is a common declaration from patients in this stage after they return to treatment.In this stage, the addict is desperate to demonstrate to everyone else that the relationship is not toxic by attempts to prove that “things will be different this time,” or that they “can control it this time.” The addict may even blame others for why the relationship isn’t working, and may displace emotional reactivity onto those that attempt to separate him from his use. This is the stage where the addict realizes that the addiction is not within their control, however they are persistent in their attempts to demonstrate any shred of control that they have over this relationship.
    • Anger: This is the stage in which the addict becomes angry at the clarity that this relationship is toxic, has caused them pain, and cannot be controlled. The anger is experienced at the awareness that the addiction has lost them jobs, cost exorbitant amounts of money, ended healthy relationships, and has ultimately caused them much pain. The addict may be angry at feeling abandoned and betrayed by the addiction, despite how they had tried to defend it early on in the relationship.As I strongly believe that anger is a secondary emotion which blankets our deeper pain and motivates us to take action, anger can be projected onto the relationship itself, or onto oneself for allowing the addiction to cause such immense damage. In this case, the addict experiences being angry toward the addiction and much more toward themselves, causing a frenetic urge to take responsibility and action away from the relationship.
    • Depression: Aside from the chemical depression resulting from the recalibration of the Hedonic Set Point (Brickman & Campbell, 1971), depression is likely the primary emotion covered by anger, and takes many forms in this stage. This is where the addict may experience sadness over the awareness of the wreckage that was caused by the addiction. “I became very sad once I realized how I let the addiction treat me and how it abandoned me,” one patient expressed. There may also be depression at the realization of how the addict has treated themselves in the course of their addiction.In this stage, the addict may become depressed due to the realization that they aren’t ever going to be able to drink/use again and that they do have to say goodbye to their relationship once and for all. Depression sets in about the idyllic thought of not being able to enjoy a glass of champagne at a wedding, use more responsibly like they did in the earlier stages of the relationship, and/or over the fact that their recovery is one they will have to manage every day for the rest of their lives. Depression may also be felt over the realization that this traumatic relationship is one that may have to be re-experienced daily in order to prevent the addict from returning to the relationship.Depression is akin to acceptance, but differs by deeper emotional responsiveness when the addict in recovery finally begins to grieve the loss of this relationship.

“Acceptance is vocalizing the understanding that this relationship is a disease that will only continue to kill them if they continue to keep it alive.” -LINDSAY KRAMER

  • Acceptance: This is the triumphant stage in which the addict in recovery accepts the loss of their relationship and begins to apply the conceptualization of living life free from addiction. This is the stage in which the recovered readily acknowledge that the fantasized wedding champagne toast could lead to a DUI following the reception, that the hangovers were exponentially worse than the highs, and that they want to experience lasting, healthy relationships in the future. Acceptance is vocalizing the understanding that this relationship is a disease that will only continue to kill them if they continue to keep it alive.Acceptance takes form as surrender, as freedom, and as the choice that the recovered make in order to say goodbye to this relationship forever. In my experience, those that reach this stage are active in their recoveries and go on to assist others in earlier stages of this grieving process. The recovered that have accepted the death of their addiction go on to lead lives that are not without struggle, but the most important change is that they are now able to lead their own lives again.

Photo Source: istock

Lindsay Kramer
With over seven years of experience treating the chemically-dependent population of San Diego, Lindsay Kramer is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT) that brings expertise, compassion, and perpetually-evolving insight into her work at Caroline Stewart and Associates. Lindsay graduated from the University of San Diego with her Master’s degree in Marital and Family Therapy 2008, but began her work with families and their children in 2004 by providing parent education and social skills groups to hundreds of families in San Bernardino country.

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Ghosting – Silent Treatment or No Contact?

Ghosting One

You’ve probably heard by now that Charlize Theron pulled a big disappearing act on Sean Penn.  It’s all over the internet on sites such as US Magazine, The Huffington Post, and Jezebel.  The couple seemed to be the epitome of happiness in cozy beach photos, walking hand-in-hand on the red carpet, and getting engaged.  It seemed they’d each met their match when suddenly, Charlize stopped answering his texts and phone calls.

She ghosted him.

To the general public, it may seem her decision to suddenly cut him out of her life was harsh.  After all, how many people have been at the receiving end of ghosting – which is the act of not returning emails, calls, or text messages – and felt the humiliating sting of sudden rejection?  Considering that brain scans have revealed that the same brain regions get activated when we experience rejection as when we experience physical pain, ghosting someone would appear to be an act of ultimate cruelty.

Or is it?  The answer lies in one word – intention.

Ghosting as a means of Silent Treatment

In the world of Narcissism, victims of emotional abuse get ghosted Ghosting 1all the time.  And while Narcissists are notorious for lying, cheating, and manipulating, they are absolute masters at issuing the Silent Treatment.  What makes their “ghosting” so difficult to heal from is that often, just when their target of ghosting has begun to lick their wounds and move forward, the Narcissist pops back onto the scene, effectively repeating the whole abuse cycle from scratch.

Another narcissistic move, which is more uncommon – and in some cases, more difficult to heal from – is one in which the Narcissist seemingly disappears off the face of the earth, never to be heard from again.

In either scenario, the intention is the same.  For Narcissists, creating emotional devastation is their way of demonstrating power.  They know that the wound of abandonment is at the core of human experience.  It’s a primal fear that’s been passed down to us by our ancestors when being ostracized from the tribe meant less access to critical resources such as food, shelter, and companionship.  In most cases, it was a death sentence.

In today’s world, ostracism, endured for a long time, leaves people feeling depressed and worthless, resigned to loneliness or desperate for attention—in extreme cases, suicidal or homicidal. In healing from ostracism, there is a “coping” stage, when people try to figure out how to “improve their inclusionary status.” They pay attention to every social cue; they cooperate, conform, and obey. [1]  Most Narcissists, especially of the overt ilk, take advantage of this phase by insisting their partner hasn’t tried hard enough, isn’t forgiving enough, isn’t attractive enough , and so on, in order to extract copious amounts of narcissistic supply.  Their target, wanting desperately to avoid the emotional damage of ostracism – a.k.a silent treatment – complies with the Narcissist’s every demand.

I don’t think, however, that Charlize implemented the Silent Treatment (sorry New York Times!)  I believe she grew tired of Sean’s controlling ways and possible affairs and went No Contact.

Ghosting as a means of going No Contact

I doubt it’s mere speculation to deem that Sean had it coming to him.  He made history after having beat the crap out of Madonna when the two of them were married.  And let’s not forget what he does to those pesky paparazzi.  According to,

“Penn was a rage head who dealt with annoying paparazzi by shooting at them, dangling them upside down from balconies, and smacking them with rocks”.

Imagine being in a romantic relationship with someone who has a hair-trigger temper, is insanely controlling and jealous, and flirts with other women to boot.  Oh wait, you probably don’t have to imagine it, as most Narcissists fit that description.

Ghosting 2I believe Miss Theron ‘went Casper’ on Sean because he got out of control and she’s too much of a lady to smear Sean’s name to Hollywood.  Whether it was out of fear, we may never know – as I’m sure many of you can sadly relate to.

Do you need to ‘go Casper’ on the Narcissist in your life?  Find out how by Going No Contact Like a Boss! Currently #1 in Personality Disorders and #9 in Divorce on Amazon!

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[1] Ostracism hurts—but how? Shedding light on a silent, invisible abuse.  (2011, April 27).  In Association for Psychological Science.  Retrieved 6/28/2015

5 Narcissistic Abuse Hacks – A Cheat Sheet for Decoding the Top Narcissistic Manipulations

How many times have you engaged in frustrating arguments with your toxic partner, only to come to self-defeating “compromises” in which they made you feel utterly responsible for their relationship crimes (and possibly had you apologizing for their errors)?

Have you forgiven your narcissistic partner a ridiculous number of times for lying, cheating, watching porn, and frequent disappearing acts, yet came away with mind-bending “resolutions” that you’d be mortified to share with your closest friend?

How often have you settled into a false sense of security after the narcissist apologized or hoovered you, only to get punched in the gut when you discovered they were still cheating, and in fact, never stopped?

If this sounds like your life, following are some Narc-manipulation hacks that you can use starting today:

Cheap shots and Blame-shifting

Narcissists are so good at getting away with blame-shifting because their targets actually spend time reflecting on how their own behaviors affect the people in their lives.  For example, if the person you love claimed (with a sadistic tone) that they watch porn because you: gained weight, stopped working out, got pregnant, aren’t adventurous enough – then you probably believed them and started an action plan to correct your so-called flaws.

Narc-Hack – The reality is that cheating and watching porn are the average narcissist’s favorite things to do[1].  I’ve been working with narcissistic abuse victims for almost two years, and even those who look like models are cheated on, lied to, and experience the humiliation of their partner’s PIED.

Narcissists cheat because: they are devoid of morals; they get bored; they like having cyber-sex with an image from the internet catalog; they use sex as a tool to hook their targets.  As an added bonus, they use cheating as a form of triangulation to keep you in a perpetual state of fighting for their attention and working overtime to prove your worth.

Rehab, Counseling, and Yellow-Brick Roads

Whether it’s promises of getting treatment for their “sex addiction”, anger issues, or lack of employment, Narcissists promise all over themselves that they will change so that the two of you can “get back on track and live the life you’ve been dreaming of”.  It all seems so real when they pretend to eat humble pie after you point out how hurtful their actions have been.  When they believe you are serious about leaving, it’s all, “I care about you and don’t want to lose you.  Let’s find a good counselor so we can fix this.  You deserve better”

Narc-Hack – Narcissists agree to counseling for a few different reasons, none of them related to making your relationship better.  What typically happens in a “therapeutic setting” is that the Narcissist uses it as a stage to make themselves look like the victim, further invalidating their abused partner.  You can read more about why therapy is a lost cause in my article, Why Going to Therapy with the Narcissist is a Bad Idea.

Torn Between Two Lovers

Though Narcissists genuinely enjoy hiding their affairs, there’s another manipulation technique they often enjoy even more – i.e., shacking up with a new mistress whom he says he just met, but in reality has been seeing for the past few months behind your back.  He tells you he was so lonely when you broke up with him over his cheating, that he unsuspectedly fell into the arms of a new lover.  But, he still somehow loves you and wants to make it work.  He just has to find a way to let the new girl down easy because she’s fallen madly in love with him during the course of a whole three days (as he would have you believe – remember, in reality, he’s been seeing her for some time).

Narc-Hack:  What’s happened is the new girl isn’t fully drinking the Kool-Aid.  Right now, she’s sipping it through a coffee straw and the Narcissist isn’t sure she’ll make good supply.

Another possible outcome is that he has absolutely no plans to leave her, and instead plans on keeping both of you in the “Pick Me” queue, wherein he can extract large quantities of supply, while simultaneously having you believe he’s just a skip away from breaking it off with her.

Or, maybe he simply wants to get in a good devalue and discard before leaving you in a heap of raw nerves on your living room floor.

That’s the extent of all possible outcomes.  Don’t fall for the “torn lover” act.

Facebook Fantasy Land

I’d be curious to know how many narc abuse victims have had to go on medications, or worse – lost their jobs – over the Narcissist’s FB postings.  Facebook is by far one of the biggest reasons people have a harder time letting go when trying to go No Contact.

There’s the Narcissist, smiling with his new partner in front of a little grass hut in Bora Bora while she flashes her fat engagement ring at the camera. 

Narc-Hack:  These posts are premeditated and designed to manage others’ impression of the Narcissist, as follows:

  • For You – See how he’s so happy with the new girl? So insanely joyful that he ran off and got engaged in less than a week?  Maybe the problem was you, after all?!  First of all, no healthy person meets, falls in love, and gets married in less than a week, save perhaps arranged marriages in third world countries.  This was all being thought out and planned before your relationship with the Narcissist was even over.
  • For Friends and Family – Look everybody! I’ve found the love of my life and we’re going to live happily ever after!  This is an act designed to complement the smear campaign that the Narcissist began waging before the two of you broke up.

Those without a conscience are able to get away with their sadistic stunts through impression management.  Sandra Brown, author of Women Who Love Psychopaths, describes how Narcissists are able to get away with their pathology in a believable way,

He social-climbs into everyone’s good graces using charisma, a good sense of humor, and an optimistic outlook (at least on the surface).  If his mask should slip a bit, he simply ‘impression manages’ his way right back into positive believability”.

What better way to do that than through everyone’s favorite social media platform?

Crickets and Tumbleweeds

The general modus operandi of the garden-variety, overt Narcissist is to hoover into infinity, as follows: He cheats, the two of you break up, he hoovers, you forgive…and the crazy cycle continues for sometimes decades unless you put a stop to it by detaching and going No Contact.

However, there’s another demographic who writes in to the forums because they’ve heard about how the Narcissist persistently hoovers, but they haven’t seen hide nor hair of them in eight months, so that must mean he wasn’t a Narcissist, after all.  Maybe he could have changed and I gave up too soon.

Narc-Hack:  The most common reason for this scenario is that the Narcissist in question was a cerebral narcissist.  However, overt Narcs may fit these criteria for other reasons including:

  • He no longer wants to put forth effort for damage control – ergo, he’d rather move on to new supply who won’t figure him out for a while
  • He had sufficient supply lined up before the two of you split, which may include numerous targets
  • You can’t be of benefit because he already drained you of everything

In closing, if these manipulations are being played out in your relationship, it’s crucial that you don’t internalize them to mean that you deserve this kind of treatment or in any way caused it.  Further, if you find yourself unable to leave your toxic relationship, it’s likely because you’re experiencing high levels of cognitive dissonance and C-PTSD and it’s vital that you get help by making an appointment with a licensed therapist.  Alternately, you can contact these organizations:

Office of Women’s Health Hotline – 800-994-9662

National Domestic Violence Hotline – 800-799-7233

Copyright © 2015 Kim Saeed. All Rights Reserved

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(No gender bias was intended in the creation of this article.  The pronouns “he, his, and him” were used for ease of reading).

[1] Narcissists Watch More Porn.  (2015, January 10).  In PsychCentral.  Retrieved 6/23/2015 from

He’s Not All Bad and Other Dangerous Fallacies

It’s hard to admit, but…

You’ve been lying to yourself about your partner.

There’s an ever-widening gap between the person you want him to be and the person he really is.  You have an idea of what constitutes a healthy relationship, yet you forgive your partner when he commits serious relationship grievances because, after all, he’s not all bad.

It started out small, didn’t it?  You caught him in a “minor” lie, but he had a somewhat reasonable explanation for it.  When you put two and two together, his justification seemed sensible, so it changed from being a lie to a “slight misunderstanding”.

Then, when it kept happening, he turned your attention away from the fact that he was lying to your being “suspicious, needy, and insecure”.  So that when you’d catch him in another lie, he’d simply rage about your always watching his every move and how he couldn’t be himself around you.  When that got old, he began chalking up his bad behaviors to your having “let yourself go”.  Suddenly, you were overweight, getting old, uninteresting, and a clingy basket case.  Even worse, he claimed you’d become so “schizoid” that you weren’t good relationship material for anyone.  And so you decided to stay instead of being alone because “he’s not all bad”.

Now, out of a one-month period, you might have one or two “good” days while the rest of your time is spent in misery and complete disaster.  You survive day-to-day, barely staying sane, hardly able to function (or take care of your children) while waiting for the rare occasion that he might be “nice”.  Through all the tears, heartbreak, and sucking it up, you know he’s going to come around at some point because he’s just “a normal person who makes human mistakes”.

If this sounds like you, you are experiencing extreme cognitive dissonance, which is a symptom of C-PTSD.  Cognitive dissonance thrives on your chalking up your partner’s lies and infidelity to dangerous fallacies that we all come to believe in toxic relationships, such as:

  • There isn’t anyone decent out there
  • No one is perfect
  • Most people cheat
  • He acts that way because of his painful childhood
  • I can love him past his character disorder
  • Well, I haven’t been perfect, either

Of course you haven’t been perfect because you’ve been emotionally traumatized.  People who have been emotionally and psychologically abused typically display C-PTSD symptoms that can mimic bipolar disorder.  Judith Herman, author of Trauma & Recovery, describes C-PTSD as a form of trauma associated with prolonged subjection to totalitarian control including emotional abuse, domestic violence or torture—all repeated traumas in which there is an actual or perceived inability for the victim to escape. [1]  This may cause difficulty in regulating one’s emotions, explosive anger, and changes in self-perception which include shame, guilt, and self-blame.  All very devastating for someone who didn’t start out that way.

I’ve been coaching people for a good while now and the people who come to me for help generally share a specific set of personality traits (based on data derived from informal personality assessments).  While there are occasional deviations, most of my clients are INFJ (or generally Intuitive/Feeling), Empathic, and Highly Sensitive.  Knowing what I know about these traits, the person who possesses them is very caring, nurturing, over-conscientious, and generally NICE.  But sadly, they stop believing that about themselves because they’re in a persistent state of nuclear meltdown from being mistreated and manipulated by their toxic partner.

If your partner is constantly lying and being unfaithful, it’s a warning flag of a serious personality disorder – one that cannot improve.  When we forgive and accept their excuses for these behaviors, we inadvertently teach them to keep doing more of the same.  Over time, we lose more and more of ourselves while teaching our children that these events are normal in relationships, romantic or otherwise…and perpetuate dysfunctional relationship dynamics in the process.

And therein lies the danger in believing the common fallacies we come to accept in toxic relationships.  If you are accepting the unacceptable, are waiting for your partner to change, and experiencing cognitive dissonance via believing things will get better in the face of increasingly devastating emotional abuse, it’s critical that you go No Contact and get help before your C-PTSD symptoms get worse.

Stand up for yourself.  There are good people out there.  Don’t continue sacrificing your morals and self-respect for people who aren’t.

(No gender bias was intended in the creation of this article.  The pronouns “he, his, and him” were used for ease of reading).

[1] Complex post-traumatic stress disorder. (2015, May 25). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 14:29, June 17, 2015, from

When You Should Consider Breaking Your Promises

I’m not referring to the promises you make to your parents or your friends.

And you should certainly keep the promises you’ve made to your children.

However, there are times when you should consider breaking the promises you made when you married a lying, manipulative cheater.

There are many reasons why women and men stay in bad marriages, but one I’ll talk about today comes up often when I’m working with clients.  And truly, it’s heart-rending because I remember what it was like when I was in their situation.  After all, I was once so determined to make it work with my ex that I agreed to be his second wife, but that’s a little extreme and not applicable in most cases.

There is a similar reason, though, which I discuss below.  Following is one of the top reasons people tend to stay in bad marriages, and why adhering to it can ruin your life:

I don’t like being a quitter or breaking my promises

I won’t speak to whether divorce is a sin.  Each religion has its own criteria and exceptions.  With that being said, I’ve had clients whose partners were members of the clergy (male and female), and used religion as a tool to “counsel” others on the sins of divorce and cheating while carrying on their own extramarital activities – so be careful from whom you seek counsel, even within the Church.

What I’ll discuss today is the phenomenon of people having been so conditioned by generational dysfunction that they believe if they divorce their toxic partner, it would make them quitters, losers, and black sheep of the family.

What do I mean by generational dysfunction?  For starters, past generations stuck to the philosophy that marriage was for life, insisting on staying with the person they married, all while there was emotional and physical abuse going on, alcoholism, drug addictions, child abuse, and so on.

Our parents were largely raised by mothers and fathers who were neglected and abused themselves.  Consequently, many of us are so greatly affected by our parents having stayed together that we are codependent, depressed, on anti-anxiety medications, and stay in our own bad marriages or relationships.

Others turn out to be narcissists (but you shouldn’t use that as a reason to justify their bad behaviors or feel sorry for them).

I was once so conditioned by false beliefs and hypocritical societal norms that I believed I had a duty to stick through it all – because that’s what Mom and Dad did, as did my grandparents and great-grandparents, etc.

Or, maybe your parents divorced when you were young and you want to keep a “stable” family unit for your children.  If there is abuse and dysfunction in a marriage, that’s the opposite of stability, and in fact will likely perpetuate the dysfunction – especially in cases where children witness emotional and physical abuse and/or are targets of it themselves.  They grow up believing that love and marriage “naturally” include certain elements of betrayal, abuse, and the allowance of those acts.

Which is why we stayed/stay in our own toxic marriages and relationships.  Sure, there are psychological and biological addictions and trauma-bonding going on, but had we healthy beliefs about what love and relationships are all about, we wouldn’t stay long enough for those to kick in.

Don’t be a martyr

Why should you have the self-sacrificing resolve of Mel Gibson’s character in “Braveheart”, when your cheating, lying partner is out in the world desecrating the marriage vows you took with them?

Why should you stay in a marriage you know is wrong for you and your kids because someone else thinks it’s the right thing to do?

When will you do what’s right for you (and your children) and let go of the opinions and beliefs of others?

I got to that point.  I was so miserable and exhausted at the end of my marriage that I didn’t want to live any more.

But then, a magical thing happened.  I stopped caring what other people think.  I no longer cared what my ex said to me because I knew he said those things because of who he is.  I stopped caring what people would think if I divorced because – truth be told – many of them should have divorced a long time beforehand.

I decided to stop being a martyr, break the promises I made to my abuser, and live true to myself.

Now that I’ve been out of my own toxic marriage for a a while, I am proud to say that I’ve healed enough to where I am no longer affected by the way I was mistreated, nor do I experience sadness or remorse when I think about my past with him.  Well, save for one regret – I stayed in the dysfunction too long and there may be repercussions regarding my children’s sense of themselves.

My oldest son is showing early signs of codependency and my middle son struggles with authority figures.  I can say without a doubt that the time I spent in my previous marriage may affect my sons throughout their lives.  I should have left much earlier.  Now, I can only help them and lead by example.

Leaving wasn’t easy.  There were times when I didn’t have the money for a cup of coffee, but I am now reaping the benefits of my decision…and my children finally know what it means to live true to oneself and that if someone is abusive, oppressive, or just plain mean, then we have every right to kick them to the curb – married or not – regardless of who they are.


Related Reading

Why Going to Therapy with the Narcissist is a Bad Idea

Breaking Up with Facebook – for Anyone Who’s Tired of Losing Face

By the time people find Let Me Reach, they are often in the final stages of detaching from the Narcissist.  Some are being discarded, some have gone No Contact on their own, and yet others exist on the sidelines as the Other Woman or Other Man, waiting patiently for their disordered partner to have The Divine Epiphany where he or she comes sprinting back, pleading for forgiveness, and waxing lyrical about marriage and growing old together.

What’s more, it’s a time when the Narcissist’s former victims spend horrifying amounts of time on Facebook, cyber-stalking the Narcissist and their new supply.  Coincidentally, it’s also a platform that Narcissists use to further degrade their ex-partners and, often, to simultaneously begin early triangulation with the new mate (and yes, it’s all on purpose).

Stalking your Ex and their new partner on Facebook (or any social media platform) is directly correlated with a huge delay in your healing process (I’m talking possibly years here) and, worse, may incite your plummeting into a swirling eddy of despair, perhaps leading to depression and the need for serious pharmaceutical meds.  Sadly, this cyber-snooping has been the ruin of many a victim’s self-esteem as they begin to aggressively pursue the Narcissist in an attempt to make them “see the light”, which instead makes them appear less valuable than the Narcissist.

While Facebook snooping is something that almost all discarded partners do, it’s critical that you get a grip on this urge and do these five things instead:

  • Say FU to FBDeactivating your Facebook profile may be necessary while you make it through the first stages of grief after the breakup.  In addition to being tempted to “casually” find out what your Ex is up to, the pictures of your friends getting married, going off on vacations, and generally having a blast will make your life seem more miserable. If you find yourself being tempted to reactivate your profile, go ahead and delete it.  You can always create another profile later – after you’ve healed.
  • Visit a local pet store – because furry, feathered, and scaled critters help us heal. In fact, perhaps it’s the perfect time to add a member to your little tribe.


  • Have a good laugh – Instead of cyberstalking, go visit The Onion or Cracked. If the urge to snoop is too strong, see what comedies are playing at your local cinema.  Invite a friend.

  • Grab some culture – Instead of responding to maniacal strings of phone calls and texts from the disordered, you now have plenty of time to do other things that will help you grow as a person. Check out for local group activites, join a book club, see a play, and check out the events in your community.  Isn’t that more fun than having a nuclear meltdown in front of your computer screen?
  • Start a hobby – Redirect your nervous energy into something new and creative.  The nice thing about starting a hobby is that it’s totally on your schedule and can be as big or small as you want it to be. By choosing a new hobby, it’s all about you: Doing things your way – on your time.  Something you never experienced with the Narcissist.

Mother and ChildYou can create a whole different life by the simple act of breaking up with Facebook – and save your self-esteem (and reputation) in the process.  Need some more ideas?  Check out 38 Things You Could Do With the Time You Spend on Facebook.

Do you have any good ideas for breaking up with Facebook and saving face after No Contact?  Please share below!



The Cerebral Narcissist – A Portrait

Narcissists are convinced that people find them captivating. Their abiding charm is part of their self-imputed supremacy. This frivolous belief is what makes the narcissist a “pathological charmer”.

The somatic narcissist (and/or histrionic) flaunts their sex appeal, sensual prowess, and attractive body.  Somatics are almost always in the latest fashion, driving fancy cars, and acting the celebrity.

The cerebral narcissist seeks to captivate and mesmerize his target with a brainy fireworks display, gaining his worth from his intellectual abilities and achievements.  His mind is the source of his vanity.  He or she would much rather acquire obscure information, use big, complicated words, and write long, drawn out dissertations on their “ground-breaking ideas”.  They don’t usually draw attention to themselves, preferring to go into full character by withdrawing from society; going out in public only occasionally…to remind the lowly human race of their deific existence.

Cerebral narcissists will try to impress others by their scholarly intelligence and command of the language, which is used not only to impress, but also to destroy anyone who questions them.   They are convinced that they are unique and should only associate with other special or high-status individuals. In fact, when confronted with anything that contradicts their sense of god-like stature, you can bet that their reaction will be explosive and malicious.

Contempt is shown for those they deem inferior.   When this narcissist experiences a loss of admiration they will become emotionally and/or verbally abusive. Their verbal sharpness is such that one is left staggering in the aftermath.  In spite of these injurious traits, such a person can be charming and exhibit behaviors widely admired in society.  There can be the ‘appearance’ of a genuine sense of benevolence towards others–though they’re not sincere in nature.

The Cerebral Narcissist generally operates in the same way as the somatic or overt Narcissist when it comes to securing a source of supply.  However, there are subtleties that set them apart, such as:

During the idealization phase: they follow the blue-print when it comes to showering their target with affection and praise. However, the cerebral narcissist goes one step further by exclaiming that the new supply is their intellectual equal.  This may very well be the case, but the cerebral narcissist doesn’t believe it because in their mind, no one can match his or her mental prowess.  Their pretense is impermeable.  Gifts often include poetry, books, and hand-written letters professing their undying love.

As with all Narcissists, this phase is to make you addicted to the constant attention.  Once the emotional and chemical cravings set in, thus begins the devaluation phase.

The devaluation phase is very similar to other Narcissists, though manifests in a slightly different way. Instead of direct, snarky remarks meant to chip away at the target’s self-esteem (which is the MO of the less intelligent Narcs), the Cerebral will suddenly blow hot and cold, withdraw their attention, and give you the overall sense of not being as high of a priority as before.  They begin to throw out occasional morsels in order to keep you in their loop.  But don’t be fooled, underneath the cool demeanor they are secretly cursing your perceived ignorance and mocking you under their breath.

Although it may not come up in discussion, you begin to feel you’re being needy or clingy, so you back off in hopes of recapturing the attention you received in the beginning.  It’s about this time that you may begin to question the depth of their feelings for you, trying to make sense of the widening gap that’s forming.  They make a virtue out of their emotional truancy by convincing you they’re simply giving you space and freedom, or that they’re preoccupied with some big project.

The discard phase is where everything comes to light. It becomes apparent that the narcissist considers himself a gift to civilization.  His intelligent achievements are earth shatteringly paradigm-shifting, forever penetrating and superior.  Periodically interacting with objects of conflict sustains his inner turmoil, keeping the narcissist on his toes…this infuses him with euphoric liveliness.  Should you demand more – you will become an encumbrance. He will dump you, disengaging quickly and remorselessly.  The cerebral narcissist’s discard is often swift because they simply don’t have the endurance to tolerate the bleating morons they call partners.


During the discard phase, the narcissist reveals his or her authentic self. You experience their callous indifference as the relationship ends. You might think this is only a fleeting lapse, but in reality, this is their true nature which has been hidden under a dark cloak.

The scheming charm that existed in the beginning is gone – instead, it is replaced by the genuine contempt that the narcissist felt for you from the beginning.  They feel absolutely nothing for you except the excitement of having discarded another unsuspecting target. It’s at this point you must accept that the dreamlike bond that existed in the beginning was an illusion.

How to conduct yourself in the aftermath, according to An Upturned Soul

Narcissists are very good at finding really nice people. Your niceness is a weakness. They need that niceness because they don’t have it. Their favorite thing is hearing you tell them how wonderful they are, nice people do that, encourage the good in others and give compliments freely. This addiction to nice people is the Narcissist’s weakness. They tell people how wonderful they are, but they don’t believe it, not consciously or subconsciously. They are very aggressive about how wonderful they are, they will fight to the death to prove it… to themselves most of all.


There is always someone else, they discard relationships like we discard trash. They change identities in a similar way, but they never change their pattern of relationship, and they rarely change who they are underneath all of their masks.

One of the most effective ways of ‘winning’ a game with a Narcissist… let them win. If you’ve been in a relationship with a Narcissist for a while, you’ll know that at some point they stop being ‘nice’ to you, it’s an effort for them, and they switch to being mean. They will tell you some awful truth about yourself for your own good, of course, they’re wonderful like that. Don’t try to prove them wrong, that’s what they want, that gives them what they need, all of your passionate attention. Tell them they are right and walk away”.

“Beware that, when fighting monsters, you yourself do not become a monster… for when you gaze long into the abyss. The abyss gazes also into you.” ― Friedrich Nietzsche

**Written in part with content found on Self-Care Haven and her article, Five Powerful Ways Abusive Narcissists Get Inside Your Head.  Visit her site for more information on Narcissistic behaviors and self-care.

This post ran previously.  Feel free to comment!

The Time This Guy Thought I was a Hooker

I sometimes dissociate  when I think of  the bizarre situations I put myself through by staying with my delusional, disordered Ex.

If you’ve been following me for a while, you probably know that one of the Red Flags for Spotting a Narcissist that I endorse is one where they want you to change your hair or style of dress.

Why does Kim talk about that so much?” Well, it’s because I totally did both.  I changed my hair AND the way I dressed.  And it wasn’t for the better.

My once brunette hair – which had been professional, yet feminine – underwent several processes in order to transform into blonde.  It wasn’t an attractive development.  The first attempt turned my hair orange.  Not the sexy and alluring Christina Hendricks kind of orange.  It was more like a crazy-weird dreamsicle kind of orange.  Imagine how I felt going to my job as a bank manager trying to pretend I hadn’t made one of the worst hair faux pas of Corporate America.

Then came the wardrobe malfunction alteration.   My Ex, in his undercover attempt at discovering just how far I’d go as a codependent good supply, informed me shortly after we started dating that I had no fashion sense.  So, sadly I went from a generally business-casual sort of dress to a Hey, Check Out My Cleavage and Micro-Mini! kind of attire.

Fast-forward to that fateful day.  My Psycho Ward Patient Ex and I had just set out on a jaunt to some restaurant he wanted to try and we’d made it approximately fifteen yards out of the driveway when he hit me with a verbal whammy.

What it was I don’t recall.  It’s been permanently blocked from my memory.  All I know is that when he came to a stop sign, I exited his car and went storming down the side of the road.  In a really bad part of town.  The kind with run-down 7-11s and seedy adult video stores.

I’d not made it very far when some guy slowed down beside me, opened his passenger-side car door and gestured for me to hop in…coincidentally, right in front of XXX Adult Videos.  The kind of store that is so bad they probably have a secret door in the back for the really “good” stuff.

I pretended I didn’t see him and kept walking, trying to maintain the one molecule of dignity I hoped to still possess.

In hindsight, that’s what I did the entire time my Ex and I were together –  seeking some unknown destination, anywhere away from him, but I always ended up back with him in the crackerbox duplex that he owned with his brother, despising myself for going back.  Hating my life and feeling utterly powerless to change anything.

It was all an illusion.  I had the power to walk away the whole time.  I kept myself in that prison.

“The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.” ~ Alice Walker

I have a bumper sticker on my car with that quote.  It’s a daily reminder that I can choose most of what happens in my life – a memento of my triumph.

And that I’ll never disgrace myself for another person again.


Do you have any bizarre tales to share regarding your time as Narcissistic Supply? Please share in the box below! (We promise not to tell anyone)



The Great “Narcissist Loves New Woman More” Hoax

Of the many ordeals that victims of the almighty Narcissist face, the lamentable concern that their disordered Ex will be better for the new woman is among the top five.  In spite of knowing that the Narcissist is a pathological liar, colossal cheater, all-star schmoozer, and soul- assassin, discarded victims are often 100% sure that their abuser has mysteriously begun toeing the line for the new girl.

It’s a miracle, by George!  The Narcissist has changed!  His wounded former partner sees it on Facebook and Instagram, hears about it from the Narcissist himself, and is informed by their shared circle of friends that the Narcissist has never been happier.  His friends and family can barely believe their own eyes, and even the neighbors walk around with their mouths agape, wondering what it is about the Narc’s new girlfriend that’s incited such a divine intervention of the Narcissist’s wily ways.

Jeepers, if he’s changed so drastically for the new woman, then…

…then it must mean there was something wrong with you – his former partner, right?  And, maybe because of this, the Narcissist was forced to find love elsewhere.  And because her love is so celestial and the depth of her love so staggering, the Narcissist really has changed.

Let’s pause for a moment of reflection.

No one can say that it can’t happen.  However the probability of it happening is zero.

In other words, I cannot guarantee that this event would never happen, but I would bet large sums of money on the fact that it wouldn’t happen.

The chances that the Narcissist will change for the new woman – simultaneously falling head-over-heels in such love that it’s been blessed by Eros and Aphrodite themselves  – are about the same as my constructing a drone for the Department of Defense to fly over Iraq, all without an instructional pamphlet.

The Narcissist is a skilled and convincing actor.  After all, he fooled you into believing you were the love of his life, perhaps even his past lives.  How long was he able to keep up the charade?  Months?  Possibly years?

Then, after his mask started slipping, he likely expected you to keep up appearances in front of everyone.  Still yet, when you discovered his lies, online dating profiles, and infidelities, he convinced you that he had reasonable justifications for it all.  That somehow, in spite of his love crimes, he still wanted you and was in love with you.

And so it will be with the new girl.

You see, he not only has to convince you that he’s found his soul-mate and best friend in the new girl, he has to get everyone else on board, too.  It’s essential that you doubt your memories; distrust that what he did to you was so bad after all.  He must make you and everyone within a 100-mile radius believe that you exaggerated everything and further, are delusional and unstable.

In other words, that he did no wrong and he’s just an innocent man trying to find real love.

What better way to do that than to trap a new girl into his web of deception and get her to drink the Kool-Aid?  Thus starts a fresh round of love-bombing, complete with vacations, church with the kids, and an engagement ring.

Voila!  Presto-chango!

This crusade is one they can wage for perverse periods of time.  It’s important that you don’t internalize this as meaning she rules and you drool.  To drive the point, in the following paragraphs I offer a real-life example of a Great Hoax of a different ilk:

Yesterday, I baked a pizza for my 6-yr old.  I put two slices on his plate and scurried off to my office to take care of some business matters.  About forty minutes later, I went back to the living room to check on the progress of my son’s lunch.  He had taken a miniscule bite off of the tip of one slice.  Seriously, it looked more like a mouse had taken said nibble, that’s how little was bitten off. 

When I inquired as to why he hadn’t eaten, he looked at me with the most innocent of eyes and said he’d eaten two pieces of pizza, just not the ones on his plate.  After a thorough inspection of the pizza pan, kitchen, and remaining areas of our apartment, I informed him that he couldn’t have eaten two slices of pizza because I’d only baked one and all four slices remained. 

This caused great sadness in my son because he sensed I wasn’t buying into his Great Pizza Hoax.  He fussed and cried, a great battle ensued, and after exhausting negotiations and a battle of wills, he surrendered and ate some of the pizza. 

The Narcissist doesn’t want to endure any negotiations, be suspected of wrong-doings, nor accept one molecule of accountability for his actions, thus the Great “I’ve Changed for the New Woman” Hoax.

Don’t drink the Kool-aid.  Trust that he’s a weasel and that the new girl will find out in due time.  They always do.

How Answering a Simple Text Message Can Ruin Your Life

You’re probably thinking I’ve lost it.

I mean, how could answering a simple text message ruin someone’s life…namely yours?

I know you’re thinking you can handle the heat.  In fact, you might even kind of enjoy it when your Ex texts you saying they miss you and you just ignore them.  It feels like sweet revenge.  Here they are, trying to get in touch with you after you caught them lying and cheating, and you’re able to keep them in the hot seat, wondering if you’ll ever give them a second chance.

Admit it.  It feels good, doesn’t it?  To think they’re beginning to regret their poor choices?

I remember those days.  Even back before I learned about the concept of going No Contact, I would block my Ex from being able to contact me.  Then, after a day or two I would unblock him.  Then I’d just ignore him when he’d try to call or text.

I’d go on like that for days at a time, thinking I possessed progressively epic degrees of power the longer I held out.  I just knew that if I ignored him long enough he’d come around to his senses.  Expressly, if I made him stew for a while, he’d come back to me a changed man.

So, I left him unblocked with full access to send me texts whenever he wanted.  Then, when he sounded desperate enough, I’d send him a short reply.  Nothing too emotional.  Just a little something to make him think I’d begun moving forward without him.  And it worked.

Or at least I thought it did.  I fell for the false epiphany.  I fell for his charming smile, the seemingly sincere look of happiness in his eyes, the wonderful makeup sex, and the promises of a brighter future.

I thought I’d played it smart, until…

Fast forward seven months –  I’d been thrown in jail for public intoxication and lost my teaching job one month before the end of the school year.  I’d only been in my apartment a few months and had bills to pay and three children to provide for.

All because I’d answered one simple text.

It happens every day.  People lose their careers, homes, entire bank accounts, children, and self-respect because they think they can avoid No Contact and stay “No Response”.  Some become dysfunctional, wracked with debilitating conditions such as cancer, heart disease, fibromyalgia.  Still others become psychotic and even suicidal.  You might be surprised at the number of comments I receive on my blog where someone is contemplating ending it all.  (If this describes you, call 1 (800) 273-8255 immediately!)

All because they’d answered one simple text.

Luckily for me, the public intoxication charge was thrown out and I was back to teaching the next school year.  However, the humiliation alone was enough that I had to temporarily go on medication.  Not to mention the major self-work I had to perform to get over the shame and disgrace of my experience.

But not everyone is as fortunate.  Lives are ruined because targets of narcissistic abuse eventually fall prey to the uncontrollable need to defend themselves, make their narcissistic partner see their point of view, tell the narcissist how hurtful they’ve been, engage in magical thinking and various other temptations that go along with being in a relationship with a person devoid of a conscience.

If you’re reading this article, that means your partner has crossed lines, trampled boundaries, and destroyed parts of you that feel irrecoverable.  I’m here to tell you that your chronicle won’t be the one that defeats all odds.  You won’t be going to your friends and family with the success story of the century.

As hard as it is to go No Contact, what’s even harder is what happens when you don’t.

The lies and cheating will get worse, the abuse will get worse, and if you have children, they will grow up with very unfortunate beliefs about what relationships are all about.

Going No Contact feels crappy.  Some even equate it to death.  But the good news is that as horrible and crippling as it feels in the beginning, there is an end to it.  The body and mind have enormous wisdom.  They know how to heal themselves.  Give them the opportunity.


Surviving Narcissistic Abuse | No Contact | Narcissists and Lying | Devalue and Discard | Love Bombing | Cognitive Dissonance | Female Narcissists | #narcfree | How to Get Away from a Narcissist


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