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Reblogged from Sanctuary For The Abused: No Contact

Check this out – one of the best summaries I have ever read about the how and why of No Contact.

No Contact

FYI – some well-meaning therapists may interpret your fastidiousness about “No Contact” as unhealthy “avoidant behaviour”. They may or may not be correct, and keep in mind I am NOT a mental health professional, but I suggest doing the following:

– Ask yourself, “Am I instituting ‘No Contact’ frequently? Is this my primary means of dealing with conflict or emotionally charged relational situations?” If it is, you may have some unresolved emotional issues (particularly from past abuse that you may not yet recognize as such – anything from emotional abandonment by your parents to being bullied in school to intimate relationships with manipulative individuals). This is totally okay – sometimes No Contact, at least temporarily, is good in situations with “normal” people, because it gives you the emotional space to get your own shit together, to process your emotions away from ongoing interpersonal pressures, and to spend time taking care of yourself and your needs. But if No Contact is your go-to, one-size-fits-all tactic, a good therapist can help you take the steps to incorporate more healthy strategies in dealing with difficult situations. Think of this as getting more tools for your toolbox – so you have more and better options available to you for any number of situations that may arise, tools that indeed, can include No Contact when necessary.

– Document, as objectively as possible, incidents involving the person you have chosen to go No Contact with, preferably as close to the time of the incident(s) as possible. Try to leave your emotions out of it, and stick to dates, times, what was said, any witnesses present, what behaviours occurred. Save (but do not obsessively re-read) emails, texts, Facebook comments, etc. from the person you have gone No Contact with. Some may disagree with this idea, but my experience around it is that data and documentation – the “facts” that led you to decide to go No Contact – are important in supporting YOURSELF in the face of outside pressure to break No Contact, because often there were no witnesses when you were abused. Seeing data and documentation helps you to better see the behavioural patterns of the N/P, so you can also recognize it in future relationships earlier. And, if ever you need to pursue legal action involving your N/P, documentation will be crucial to you supporting your position.

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” ~ George Santayana

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It’s a Bird… It’s a Plane… It’s a Liebster Award!

Liebster Award

My goodness, I missed this one for a while (having been caught up with other things while on vacation), but DenMother & Helen from The Cougar Den nominated me for a Liebster Award! I am totally honoured that anyone at all is reading my blog, let alone writers as fantastic as these ladies. Thanks so much!

I, admittedly, was first lured to The Cougar Den by a brilliant little post entitled, “What Should We Expect of Brad Pitt’s Penis?“. Just click the link – you know you want to! I love the honesty and humour, not to mention creativity of their blog.

Da Liebster Rulez:

  • Thank the bestower and link back to their blog – yeppers
  • Answer the 11 probing questions – scroll down
  • Pose 11 questions of your own, and nominate 11 other blogs with less than 200 followers, (or thereabouts), informing them of the exciting news by way of blog comment – scroll waaay down!

1. Lights on or off?

ON. All the better for extracting the blackheads from Hubby’s ass during the afterglow.

2. Soft or hard tacos?

Soft. Hard tacos all too often end up in my cleavage somehow, or maybe Hubby’s butt crack during the afterglow.

3. L.A. or New York?

New York, as my favorite show, “The Good Wife”, is filmed there.

4. Lobster or Liebster?

Liebster, hands down. Besides, I can’t see a lobster giving me my fifteen seconds of fame.

5. Secret Indulgence?

Copper Moon Malbec. I’ll take a glass of this inexpensive gem over just about anything.

6. You are reincarnated and return as a dog in your next life. What breed are you?

A large-ish mutt. It would be fun to be a canine “chimera” of sorts. My dog child kept me guessing until I got her DNA tested… Why not? We have the technology…

7. My favourite Canadian is….

Shane Koyczan. Forget Brad Pitt’s Penis for just a moment – Shane’s recent TED presentation made my jaw drop.

8. For one week, I want to live the life of…..

Pi.

9. Dinner party for 6. Who do you invite?

Gloria Steinem, Marilyn Waring, Halla Tomasdottir, Sheryl Sandberg, Vigdis Finnbogadottir, and Oprah Winfrey.

10. I blog because….

I believe that world-changing ideas have to start somewhere, that even the experts get it wrong sometimes (or even much of the time), and that no matter who we are or where we come from, we need to share our experiences, and learn from others. Blogging is just my little contribution to collective knowledge from life experience.

11. My all-time, most revered cougar has got to be…

Queen Latifah. That woman is so amazingly talented – and defies convention in everything she does. African American, pleasantly plump, over forty, with a big scar on her forehead, yet a spokesmodel for one of the world’s largest cosmetics companies, and on the verge of hosting her own talk show – you go, Girl!

Now for my 11 Liebster nominees:

1. After Narcissistic Abuse
2. Broken But Stronger
3. Dree Speaks Freely
4. Everyday Red Flags
5. Paula’s Pontifications
6. I Won’t Take It
7. In The Net!
8. Jana and the Stone
9. Kinky Little Girl
10. Lexicon Lover
11. My Journey of Healing From Psychological Abuse

And I almost forgot – the 11 nosy questions.

1. Why did you start your blog?
2. What are you wearing right now?
3. What is your biggest pet peeve?
4. What are your thoughts on driving traffic circles/roundabouts?
5. If you could be anywhere right now, where would you be?
6. What do you feel is your purpose in life?
7. What is the best decision you have made in the last five years?
8. Boxers of briefs?
9. Food you despise the most?
10. If you could be a fly on the wall anywhere, where would you be?
11. Favorite season?

Phew, that was a lot of work… But fun.

Keep blogging, y’all, and change the world!

Janice Murphy

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Bring On the Rabid Feminist Nuns

http://rt.com/news/pope-francis-crackdown-nuns-902/

This type of bullshit is a prime reason why I’m no longer Catholic (not that I ever was, anyway, by my own volition – thanks, Mom and Dad).

I do, however, give these “radical feminist nuns” my full support. Why? Because, feminism was never really about burning bras, in my opinion. Feminism, as I understand it, is about establishing a society of equals, to value ALL work that benefits society, and has, as its goal, the improvement of the health of families by encouraging responsibility of both genders to care for their children and for themselves, to ensure equal pay for equal work so that all families can better support themselves, and to embrace individuals based on who they are and their gifts, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, appearance, etc.

Make no mistake, patriarchies like the Catholic Church value power above all else. The attempt to shift the spotlight onto a group of women who serve their communities, and who are lobbying for change that supports their mission to do good in the world, is petty – at least when one considers the recent sexual abuse scandals perpetrated by Catholic priests, and all too frequently covered up by the Catholic Church.

Narcissists and psychopaths (at least the ones I’ve known) use the same sort of tactics to shift attention from themselves and their ulterior motives – drama makes a fabulous smokescreen.

Does this position makes me a rabid feminist, too? I can only hope so.

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What NOT To Do When Trying To Lose Your Narc: Be Flexible About No Contact

Going No Contact, for the most part, is a revolutionary move when dealing with disordered individuals. But, as with so many things in life…

Bush Doing it Wrong

Every situation is different and has to be approached with due care and attention. Sometimes total No Contact isn’t even possible; you may have kids with the dude and have shared custody, for example, and have to be in contact on some level. That said, however you implement No Contact has to be solidly defined and carried out accordingly.

As far as No Contact goes with Psychopath #2, once I understood what No Contact was, I enacted it very strictly, as closely as possible as described here. I haven’t had contact with him since late 2010. I have not emailed or texted him, stalked him on Facebook, or asked anyone about him. Having said that, I am married to to Psychopath #2’s cousin, which has complicated matters considerably.

I thought I’d been reasonable with my husband about all of this… But two and a half years later, we are still in the same stupid cycle regarding his cousin. Knowing what I know now, I left things way too open-ended and trusted my husband far too much to “do the right thing” by me.

My original rules:

  • Don’t talk to me about Asshat, or Pollyanna (his fiancee), by extension
  • Do not talk to Asshat about me or us
  • Be civil, say hello if you bump into each other, but keep some distance from Asshat
  • Do not attend family functions held in Asshat’s honour (ie. his birthday)
  • I will not go to any family functions where Asshat is expected to be
  • I will leave family functions immediately if Asshat shows up
  • Otherwise, go to whatever family functions you want to on your own, only Asshat is to be avoided

A few months later, I found out that Hubby called up Asshat about the ice fishing spots on a particular lake near Asshat’s home, and they ended up on the lake together.

Then a few months after that, we got invitations to their wedding, bridal shower, stag party, etc. I shredded the invitation to the bridal shower. Hubby wanted to go to the wedding! We fought about it, he even booked an appointment with a counsellor about whether or not to go to the wedding, and the counsellor basically told him, “Who are you married to, your wife or your cousin?” He didn’t go to the wedding.

A few months later, after attending the family Christmas party alone, Hubby said he figured Pollyanna was trying to hide a pregnant belly. I told him not to talk to me about her or Asshat. A couple of weeks later, my best friend contacted me to warn me that Asshat and Pollyanna had announced their pregnancy on FaceBook (I didn’t realize she’d had them on her friend list). I told her not to talk to me about Pollyanna or Asshat, either, as I didn’t care to hear whether they were alive or dead or anything in between, and I explained the No Contact concept to her. My best friend subsequently defriended them on FaceBook (I didn’t ask her to, either).

I have found out recently, that since No Contact, Asshat has approached Hubby about making amends a few times. (I gave Asshat an opportunity to do so before total No Contact, but after not hearing from him for six weeks, I decided to cut him off. I had a life to get on with.) I didn’t choose to go No Contact lightly, it was not over one or two minor incidents, it was about months, no, years, of generally stealthy but very real exploitation, manipulation, and disrespect towards me and others, especially Pollyanna. But I don’t think Hubby actually grasps that. In a sense, he is fighting “family opinion” – I get that, and I totally understand that likely none of them will grasp my point of view because none of them (other than Pollyanna, and she is still deeply in denial) have been sexually exploited by him. Based on my experience with Asshat, however, I don’t ever want to see him alive again, as he has proven again and again that he cannot be trusted, and I am not going to budge.

Sigh.

If I knew then what I know now, this is what the rules would look like:

  • Don’t talk to me about Asshat, or Pollyanna (his fiancee), by extension
  • Do not talk to Asshat about me or us
  • Do not phone up Asshat for any reason, not even about fishing
  • Be civil, say hello if you bump into each other, but keep some distance from Asshat
  • Do not attend family functions held in Asshat’s honour (ie. his birthday)
  • I will not go to any family functions where Asshat is expected to be
  • I will leave family functions immediately if Asshat shows up
  • Otherwise, go to whatever family functions you want to on your own, only Asshat is to be avoided
  • Tell Asshat that you will be civil, but that he is not to call or contact either of us in any way, for any reason, ever

The last point is the most salient. I didn’t ask Hubby to stand up for me. I thought he would on his own, but he didn’t. Hubby needed to be proactive and stake out some boundaries with Asshat early on, but he did not, and this situation still haunts us, years later. Asshat has been trying to weasel his way back in all along; maybe after Hubby stakes his claim, Asshat will continue to do so (if he is the sociopath he claimed to be, he surely will), but then again, maybe he won’t. The most recent appointment with our therapist, the therapist outright told him he needed to be firm and transparent and tell Asshat exactly what the expectations were, whether by phone or by letter. This communication has yet to happen. But I am hopeful that it happens soon, and that it is the elusive solution.

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Tactics of Predators

I just stumbled on this link today, for an upcoming documentary called “Chosen”.

Even though I was not targeted for the purposes of human trafficking, Psychopath #1 used eerily similar tactics with me (at the time, an adult in my thirties).

I believe that from the moment he saw my ad on a personals site on the internet, he was sizing me up for exploitation. He identified my vulnerabilities (loneliness, obviously, as I was internet dating, and other insecurities when he met me), swooped in and “gave” me what I wanted, mainly companionship, got me hooked to the point that I even considered him my best friend, and then used my trust in him, and fear of losing him, to convince (brainwash, more so) me to do things that were in his (and his accomplice’s) best interests but to my detriment. It took me months, and in some cases, years, to identify what he had done to me and to understand how he did it.

Make no mistake – these people are not EVERYONE, but they are EVERYWHERE. Psychopath #2 slipped under the radar, again engaging in similar behaviors in different situations so I just didn’t see it at the time, but I gave him more benefit of the doubt because I worked at the same company with him.

Finding out you’ve been duped, then how these weasels did it, even years later, I compare to being psychologically raped. They deliberately set you up, groom you, to do their bidding. I cannot describe this as anything but unspeakably evil.

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Red Flags and the Diagnosis Dilemma

“Am I overreacting?”

“Isn’t it wrong NOT to give this person the benefit of the doubt?”

“He’s never hurt me physically, so I don’t think he’s abusive, so isn’t it the right thing to do to stick it out and try to make the relationship work?”

“Should I get out of this relationship, even though he hasn’t been diagnosed with any kind of mental or personality disorder?”

These types of questions are so common among people who are trying to figure out whether or not to get out of unhappy relationships. And these questions are valid, because they keep in mind our own motivations – are we being needlessly paranoid, or selfish, ourselves?

Yet there comes a point when these questions can keep a person in a state of paralysis. We are so concerned about being good people, doing the right thing, following the “Golden Rule”, that we forget that the “Golden Rule” is a two-way street. We also don’t see the insidious ways a disordered partner can influence us to put parts of ourselves “on the shelf” or drop our defenses in order to control us in the service of their wants and needs.

There are many great online resources that outline relationship “red flags” that, if we choose to notice them, can help indicate whether we are just going through normal relationship turbulence or if we are in a truly toxic situation.

Those of us who have been through poisonous relationships might define some of our red flags differently, but I am sharing mine, with how they played out. These are red flags that, in hindsight (and in my opinion), are serious enough to merit ending a relationship right then and there, in many cases, especially when these things are noted early.

ADDICTIONS

I used to think that chemical substance abuse (drugs, alcohol) was the thing to watch for, but after a few more years on this planet and learning about more dysfunctional entanglements others have had, I now include anything that people do to mood-alter or self-medicate. We all have our issues, but addiction of any sort is something you must at least be aware of.

And on that note: Drop the savior complex and don’t take it upon yourself to convince that person to change, or support them in fixing their crap when it’s your idea that they need to change. Don’t convince yourself that if you just show them how much you love them, stand by them, accept them, that they will change. Change has to be a choice they make for themselves and enact for themselves. And sometimes the payoff in staying addicted is greater than sobriety – take, for example, an addiction to power.

I had that “Savior Complex” pretty bad with Psycho #2… I was almost ready to shell out $32k to buy him a new boat if he’d just quit drinking… and we were just dating. Thankfully I never voiced that (stupid, stupid) ill-conceived notion to him or acted on it. His next victim married him and gave birth to his child, so yeah, wannabe saviors will go to some crazy extremes banking on change.

I’ve seen some pretty demented behavior come from adherents to “The Secret” movement, as well. Fantasy thinking, basing one’s actions on what one wishes would be, in spite of a contrasting reality that is MUCH different and darker, just is bad news all around, especially when you’re dealing with adult men and women. If you’re unknowingly dealing with a narc, or worse, basing your evaluation of that person on what you perceive as their golden, shining “potential”, is like basing a calculation on bad data; they impression manage the heck out of themselves so what you see is only what they want you to see, or worse, what you’ve deluded yourself into seeing.

THEFT

This goes beyond minor acts of stealing – though this is the behavior that you may notice first. (Even if it’s something small, almost inconsequential, be on alert, however.) Theft, as I am defining it, is the taking of things, services, etc. that would not be freely given to a person if he or she had engaged in full, honest disclosure of his or her intentions.

I went to a movie with Psycho #1 once. There were automated ticket kiosks, and he happened upon a receipt that someone had left in the ticket drop. He proceeded to take the receipt over to the manned ticket counter, and went on a tirade about how the machine had taken his money and not given him a ticket! Because of the scene he was causing, they handed him a ticket. I was too stunned to process what had happened at the time, and he was pretty self-satisfied. I didn’t bring up the matter with him, even though it didn’t sit right with me. Little did I know this was a small representation of how he operated – literally the tip of the iceberg in terms of the types of scams he was involved with. I didn’t understand the enormity of some of the things he was engaged in (if I knew about them at all) until long after his death. I should have walked away after the ticket fiasco, I’ll just leave it at that.

Here are a few catch phrases that I will now keep in my mind as “alerts” that I am about to be parted from something important to me. This is not limited to money but may include a place to live, credit, sex, using your good name to raise his own credibility, to get close to your friends and family so he can exploit them, and so on:

-“Loophole”
-“Social engineering”
-“Do me a favour”
-Any flattery early in the relationship (many salesmen use this tactic)
-“These are modern times, women shouldn’t expect men to buy meals for them” (meanwhile Psycho #1 thought nothing of taking advantage of my generosity at restaurants)
-“I forgot my wallet”
-Never buy ANYTHING from ANYONE unless you have done independent research on the item’s worth
-Receiving a put-down (be careful, these can be very subtle but may also extend to displays of rage) when asserting a boundary, saying no, or calling a person on questionable behavior
-If you ask that person directly if their motives are not mutually beneficial, and they flip the conversation around to make it seem like you are accusing them or otherwise implying their motives are less than pure (and thus pressuring you to drop the subject), you are probably being taken advantage of

The list goes on.

THE PITY PLAY

This tactic ensnares many an empathically-oriented individual. Martha Stout, in her fascinating book, “The Sociopath Next Door”, says that this is one of the most telling behaviors that you dealing with a sociopath.

The pity play, from my experience, happens relatively early on. You are told tales of woe – the death of a parent, an upbringing with an abusive, alcoholic father, a nasty boss or hostile work environment, money woes, a broken heart, yada yada yada. In the cases of both psychopaths who abused me, these pity plays were interspersed with some pretty grandiose statements or implications indeed – such as proclaimed professional success, financial stability, expert knowledge, etc. Both seemingly attempted to simultaneously aggrandise themselves in your eyes, yet make you feel sorry for them… Maybe for purposes of disarming you, or getting you emotionally involved, or invested in “solving their problems”.

Psycho #1 had a female accomplice in some of his undertakings, and she did some of the same things (I, too, believe she is likely a psychopath). I believe Psycho #1 functioned somewhat as a “procurer” of victims for the female – going online, befriending and/or bedding multiple women (and men), gaining their trust and creating an emotional bond (ensuring loyalty) and then swooping in to both manipulate his victims himself, and allow the female to gain access to exploit the same victims (to their mutual benefit, in some cases). Psycho #1 was very convincing – he could have you offering to buy him dinner, while he had an enormous, brand-new flat screen TV in his home, though you had nothing to your name that expensive. The female was a con artist who would enlist your cooperation, then cleverly reframe her maneuverings to make you think you were helping someone by what she was asking you to do. The female also used flattery, attention, tales of woe, etc. to gain your trust and try to manipulate you. Together they created a high-pressure, yet no-pressure tactic to get you to do what they wanted – Psycho #1 had you so bonded to him emotionally, dependent even, because he targeted people very much alone and vulnerable – that you wouldn’t dare question some of his (or their) actions or risk losing his “friendship” or have him question your sanity. He used gaslighting extensively. At that time, I was a prime candidate for exploitation, is all I can say.

PITTING PEOPLE AGAINST EACH OTHER

Both my psychopaths had, in hindsight, an annoying habit of pitting people against each other. I can laugh at it now, like at an oversexed dog humping a random person’s leg, but at a time when you still are still emotionally invested, it is pretty painful. Both of these idiots engaged in almost identical tactics.

Psychopath #1 would tell me stories about the new woman he was seeing – stories that would make the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end. The things he was saying about this woman (the woman he eventually married, who found him dead of a drug overdose in her basement less than a week after the wedding) were enough to make me fear for his safety – he very artfully wrangled up my protective side and pretty soon I was sending emails urging him to be careful with this apparently very unstable woman. I can’t prove it, but I strongly suspect he was engaging in similar smear campaigns about me with her. A few months before I opted to go No Contact with Psycho #1, I attempted to disengage from their drama; I told him that I sensed very strongly that his new girlfriend didn’t like me and that I would be keeping some distance from him/them out of respect for their relationship. That night I got a threatening phone call from his new woman (voicemail, thank goodness) berating me for saying nasty things about Psycho #1 and so on, telling me to leave them alone until I was willing to apologize and behave like an adult or something to that effect (?). Trying to disengage from the drama only got me into more of it; I was so floored by this voicemail that I didn’t sleep that night, and phoned Psycho #1 the next day to try to understand what the hell happened. He told me he was going to keep things on the down-low with his new woman for the time being regarding him and I still talking, and I was roped back in for a few more months.

Psycho #2 was a lot more subtle, at least with me… He did flirt with other women all the time when we were “dating” but I didn’t care. Even the woman he dumped me for didn’t faze me much. As with Psycho #1, I tried to avoid drama when I recognized it, and I am not terribly prone to jealousy. But Psycho #2 liked to occasionally imply that “I wanted what I could not have” (meaning him, of course, the narc idiot), and I am pretty sure he implied this to his new girlfriend – maybe not that I was direct competition, but that I was waiting in the wings, hoping. (Not true, but he is entitled to his delusions.) The new girlfriend admitted being jealous of me near the end of my contact with them, so obviously, he was successful. I didn’t bite, I just ended the relationship with him, but as evident from the way his girlfriend did an about-face, despite having come to me for information about Psycho #2, I am pretty sure he must have slammed me to her.

At any rate, if you find yourself in these weird little triangles, the person at the center of the conflict is likely up to something naughty and is playing puppet master for the purpose of distraction.

THE DIAGNOSIS DILEMMA

The above behaviors are by no means exhaustive, and they are just what I’ve noticed from my own experience, but they were definite signs I kind of saw but didn’t act on when I should have. I describe them so that maybe you will see parallels with your own experiences.

As screwed up as these behaviors are, the questions at the beginning of this post still come up. Because we are human, and capable of attachment and empathy, we don’t want to accept the reality that this person we love and perhaps have committed to is doing these things.

Some feel their significant other should have a proper diagnosis before a decision is made about staying or leaving.

But this is the thing: a diagnosis is unlikely, ever. Most psychopaths and narcissists don’t necessarily get caught doing what they’re doing, even if they are engaged in illegal acts. A lot of the time, they simply operate in a “grey area” of legality or morality, and often do a lot of their interpersonal damage when there are no witnesses. (Both psychos were very adept at this.) The majority of therapists aren’t well versed regarding psychopathy and narcissism, either, which is problematic when a victim goes for counselling with a disordered partner. The narcissist or psychopath apparently can be so suave and charming that the frazzled victim looks disordered. Not good. So what is a victim to do?

It’s a complex issue with no easy answers, but getting people talking about this stuff is one way to get the word out that people who manifest manipulative behaviors are best avoided as much as possible. Even seemingly minor acts or issues, like the ones I describe above, can portend or obscure more egregious things that person is up to.

Don’t wait for a diagnosis. If something isn’t sitting right with you, don’t be afraid to take a step back, delve deeper (there are a few times in my life I wish I’d hired a private investigator!), or even walk away.

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