Tag Archive for: relationships

Examining our deepest fears of intimacy and wounding.

I was never a fan of the show “FRIENDS” but reading about Matthew Perry’s untimely death this morning struck a deep, reflective chord in me. He passed away in a hot tub after battling for years with addiction and going in and out of rehab centers. He never married and never had any children, although he did have relationships with famous people like Julia Roberts. He and I are the same age and his tragic death caused me to reflect upon my own life, spiritual tradition and friendships. He longed to become ready to eventually let someone in and find love. He said:

”That was me afraid. I manifest something that’s wrong with them, and then I break up with them. But there can’t be something wrong with everyone. I’m the common denominator. I left first because I thought they were going to annihilate me.” 

Matthew Perry- People Magazine

However, he said that he had finally ”gotten over” his ”fear of love” after becoming sober in May 2021 and said ”I’m not afraid anymore,” and said that he wanted to find love and have children.

Accountability- What it Means to Grow Up

In any 12 step program, one of the hardest things is to begin the trajectory toward healing, and take the first step and admit that you have a problem. I commend Matthew for going into rehabs to battle with his inner fears and demons. I don’t know if drugs and alcohol were involved in his death, but irrespective of that, I think his memoirs show that he was able to have a great degree of insight and accountability.

I appreciate that he did a sufficient amount of inner work to be able to see his shadow and see where he had deprived himself from really being able to go deep, and love another person by wanting to make a commitment and eventually, have a family. Just that insight alone is so rare, that a person is able to see their core issues in and their wounding and then long to heal and make personal change. This means that he was able to venture into the darkest places within himself, that a lot of us never dare to touch. As far as I’m concerned, because of this accountability, he died somewhat spiritually healed and exhibited rare bravery. Matthew, I’d like to wish you well and I would like to learn from some of the things that you shared, so that each of us could have deeper relationships, and more fulfilling lives and not let our fears, insecurities and inner demons cast us forever into a life of emotional isolation and despair.



What is Love Avoidance?

According to the DSM5, avoidant personality disorder it is a cluster B/C personality disorder, hallmarked with a “sensitive hyper-vigilant temperament, with a general longing to relate to others.” Furthermore they have excessive fears of such issues as intolerance of any disapproval, criticism, or rejection. Love avoidants also have “inhibition in new interpersonal situations because of feelings of inadequacy.”

One of the hallmarks of a love avoidant, is that they can avoid being hurt or being emotionally vulnerable, and they stay in complete control of the relationship by withholding. Love avoidants exhibit intense escapism and often sabotage any chance of someone really becoming close to them. Because of this deep inner wounding and intense insecurity, they wind up often turning to drugs and alcohol and compulsive behaviors. They can be secretive, sexually compulsive and use distancing techniques like devaluing and criticizing their partners as the method of staying in control. They sometimes are “tactile defensive,” not wanting to be touched, except for sex.

At the first moment that they become vulnerable where they perceive that their partner might want to offend, hurt or leave them, that partner who they attempted to open up to, now becomes the enemy in their mind. They will usually discard their partner vehemently. This black-and-white thinking, is called splitting, where the person that they attempted to open to, is now inaccurately perceived as “all, bad or all evil.” This is very commonly exhibited in many cluster B personality disorders, like Borderline, Antisocial and Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Love avoidance is a maladaptive, protective coping skill that can come from people that were neglected or abused as children. Sometimes there are genetic factors that are inherited generationally, and in these cases there is no real treatment or cure. However, in Matthew’s case, he was capable of insight and contrition, and for people like that, there is often hope.

Love Avoidance and Spiritual Bypassing

I wanted to share why this personally inspired me to write today. I have tried many relationships in my Buddhist community for decades with men that supposedly upheld values like: being trustworthy and safe, having ethics, compassion, patience, listening, forgiveness and indeed, 84,000 different skillful means of compassionate expression and problem solving skills. However, time and time again I would meet these men, sometimes even exalted teachers, and it became revealed that many had serious emotional issues, reactivity and commitment and control issues, that would result in conflict and breakups. I wound up marrying someone outside of my Buddhist spiritual tradition who was very sane, stable and well adjusted and we’ve been able to be married for over 22 years now.

A lot of my close Buddhist Dharma friends, both men and women are single, not all but many. I feel like if I had tried to find someone in our tradition, I probably would still be single myself. I’ve noticed that a lot of us admittedly, including myself, came in to Buddhism as westerners and spiritual seekers, because of some type of pain or core wounding or unresolved issues. The tradition values a simple, unfettered life without commitments and a strong commitment to hours of daily meditation practice.

I’ve still gotten into painful conflicts with many yogi-robed acquaintances, mostly men on social media where, I would say one benign thing that they perceived as some type of injury and they would become rageful, defame or even block me. It was pretty vicious and callous, and it’s clear that they are using our tradition to foster nothing but Spiritual Narcissism. Many of them purport to be “dharma experts” and use daily photos of Buddhist teachers and insightful quotes to gain +/-500 virtue signaling “Likes.” What a sad life and waste of time and indeed these men are often quintessential love avoidants. I know that social media becomes a place where people with significant damage, wounding and personality disorders can play out a lot of prey/predator narcissistic disordered games. For that reason, I’ve left a lot of the social media milieus, and it has given me my real life back, with time for real relationships.

Was Gautama the Original Love Avoidant?

The Buddha himself was a renunciate and in fact even left his wife and newborn child and all responsibilities to “self actualize.” If he had left his wife and child so callously in this day and age, we may have considered him quite selfish and legally, he would be considered a “deadbeat dad” in many countries. However, the difference between the Buddha leaving his family and going deep into his ascetic, yogic practices and meditation was that his leaving was based on a very serious longing to develop himself and foster compassion to help others. That was an act of bravery as referenced above with Mr. Perry, rather than an act of escapism and avoidance.

Since his time, we’ve had a tradition of both lay and monastic practitioners, and sometimes I wonder what the root motivation is for westerners getting involved with this tradition. If we already have deep wounding and a propensity for escapism, spiritual narcissism and love avoidance, would we then find a religion that reflects, houses and even rewards some of our maladaptive psycho-sexual and relational patterns? I do wonder sometimes if we have misconstrued this basic point, and created an entire religion and paradigm that honors and exalts the propensity to be a love avoidant and bypass our deepest fears of vulnerability, intimacy and early wounding. Just because leaving his family was ok for the Buddha doesn’t mean we should emulate him, if we in contrast, are using our tradition as a method of opiation and escapism. All we will have done is hurt ourselves and others, and wasted this precious life, in spiritual delusion.

I noticed that a lot of my friends claim to have a strong commitment to their Dharma meditation practice and have been told that they have a rare “noble birth,” and consider themselves quite spiritually accomplished and even god-forbid, superior to others. We can’t really be making ANY spiritual progress if we have simply used our tradition for this quintessential spiritual bypass. Staying alone, rejecting the world, rejecting intimacy in some type of strange, self-aggrandized, escapist renunciation is often, simply the fostering of a monumental ego and cowardice, rather than anything that looks like openness, genuine compassion and enlightenment.

Healing Through Awareness

If we have discovered and become honest with ourselves that we are indeed love avoidant, or we are in a relationship with a love avoidant there are ways that these patterns can be healed. The very first step is education, awareness, insight and accountability. Then, we can seek professional counseling with a DBT therapist. And for partnerships: IMAGO is one of the best relationship healing methods.

I wish that Matthew had lived long enough to accomplish his dreams of finally finding real love and intimacy, getting married and having a child. Him understanding and saying that in fact, he was the common denominator in all of these failed relationships, and that he simply was afraid of being hurt, was intensely vulnerable and brave, and indeed, healed. Love avoidants can spend their entire lives blaming others as to why their partner deserved to be hurt, abandoned left or was never, ever good enough. In Buddhism and other spiritual traditions, we formed an entire religion where people are afraid to go deeply into their lives, be vulnerable and make any commitment to really… anything that they consider “worldly.” I think if we shed light on this propensity, we can become better and go beyond our deep wounding and develop true bravery, foster healthy relationships a meaningful life and indeed- real genuine mutual loving connections. I would like to learn and be inspired by Matthew’s life and insights, and may we all have the most meaningful, honest and healed life possible.



image: pexels evie-shaffer


MissLunaRose12, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons



“How can you hate and delete people and be on the journey toward inner peace?
Forgive everyone, clear the karma. Recontact them and heal it, tell them you hold no negativity. Even if you didn’t like what they did. They are not their conduct. Everyone that you had some connection with your exes, family, siblings even if they have died their karmic traces live in you, so heal it, show appreciation. Maybe you shared some good moments? Heal it all. You are powerful, your love, your compassion.
Learn from the ones that trigger you- Shed light on light.”

Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche, Crestone October, 2023


This quote was from one of my spiritual teachers on retreat this year. He’s speaking to the callous tendency for people to have a very low tolerance for conflict and to use social media to be blocking and discarding people, wantonly. He actually suggested for us to unblock people, and even recontact all old exes, friends and relatives who we may be estranged from and heal any hurt, conflict or karma. Furthermore, he wanted us to do this even if they have passed, heal it in your mind or ceremonially. I agree with him, and one of my other teachers told me that part of our Bodhisattva vow is that we are obligated to resolve conflict or pain with someone if we can, even if it wasn’t our fault. I wrote an article about living and dying without regret here.

This is very noble, a true Buddha’s mind and heart would always be open, vast, compassionate, and welcoming, with no karmic entanglements. This is a very big, HOWEVER, when it comes to relating with narcissistic people, the normal relational rules change dramatically.

Idealize, Devalue, Discard, Hoover- Rinse and Don’t Repeat

Most of us understand, by now, the basic patterning of what it’s like to have been in contact with the person who is high on the narcissistic spectrum. Unfortunately, people with these disorders are not capable of having healthy, supportive, equitable relationships. Narcissistic or antisocial people are caught in a painful repeating cycle of: Love bombing, idealize and then devaluing and insulting you and then when you confront them or can see behind their mask, they will usually have a narcissistic rage or injury. Right in the midst of the emotional attack, which can be brutal, they will typically block, discard or silence you. Then, there are the infamous smear campaigns to justify what they did, and sometimes they will try to hook or hoover you back into their lair, for another cat and mouse batting.

There is no way to break this pattern, and there’s nothing that you can do to heal it by fixing them. Let me repeat: “There is no way to break this pattern, and there’s nothing that you can do to heal it by fixing them.”

Narcissistic or antisocial people flourish by having a target of blame to hide their hidden shadow. They often have an inflated, grandiose sense of self, can do no wrong, have no empathy, conscience, or accountability. They very rarely ever seek help or therapy, and any apologies are typically used as a manipulation tactic to hoover you back in to the cycle.

I really believe that there are even sadistic tendencies, they actually enjoy knowing that they have power and control over you and receive narcissistic supply by you staying hurt, disempowered or even disabled. It’s not about love, it’s a game of who wins. As much as we may genuinely love this person, appreciate them and are hurting, we’re simply caught in a very powerful, toxic trauma bond of longing to heal.

However, there’s no way to heal it relationally with a person who is disordered. Narcissists and antisocials are different, we must see that and love and value ourselves enough to get out. The only way to heal is to stop re-traumatizing ourselves, and rebuild our inner foundation that was broken by being in contact, and being emotionally vulnerable to a narcissist.


Reality Testing List

There are a few ways to heal if you feel an overwhelming amount of unprocessed grief and emotion after you’ve been discarded. One way is to write a long letter to the narcissist, never send it and then burn it ceremonially and wish them well. Secondly, since we were emotionally gaslit, it’s hard to remember all the hurtful things that transpired, so it’s a good idea to make a REALITY list of the hurt, abuse and their disordered conduct. Keep that on your phone and read it whenever you feel any hope that you could resolve it with this person that hurt you, so thoroughly and deeply. The first list, name it: “This is Not Love, This is a Trauma Bond“. Then in contrast, write a second list called “I Call In Genuine Love.” In the second list, talk about the qualities of genuine love and respect that you would like to create in your life and in all relationships.

5 Ways to Go No Contact

Going no contact with a narcissist can be challenging, but is often necessary for your mental and emotional well-being, and healing cannot really begin if we keep exposing our nervous systems to harm. I know it’s hard, and seems uncompassionate, but we must know and finally admit that these people DO NOT LOVE US.  Here are five ways to go no contact with a narcissist and why it’s important to heal:

  1. Block Communication: Block their phone number, email, and ALL social media accounts. Make it difficult for them to reach out to you.
  2. Set Boundaries: Inform mutual friends and family members about your decision to go no contact, and ask for their support in not relaying messages from the narcissist.
  3. Remove Triggers: Get rid of reminders of the narcissist, such as gifts, photos, and belongings that may evoke painful memories.
  4. Seek Professional Help: Consider therapy, counseling or coaching to help you cope with the emotional aftermath of the relationship and develop strategies for healing.
  5. Focus on Self-Care: Invest in self-care activities that promote your emotional and physical well-being. This may include exercise, meditation, journaling, and spending time with supportive friends and family, to rebuild your emotional and physical well-being.

Why it’s imperative to heal after narcissistic abuse:

  1. Recovery from Emotional Abuse: Narcissists engage in devastating emotional abuse, manipulation, and gaslighting that can damage or break the foundation of our being. Healing allows us to regain our self-esteem and self-worth.
  2. Break the Cycle: Going no or low contact breaks the trauma bond and cycle of abuse and codependency, allowing you to build healthier relationships in the future.
  3. Your Mental Health: Narcissistic abuse can lead to depression, anxiety, physical problems, PTSD and CPTSD. Healing is essential to address these emotional and mental health issues and move forward.
  4. Personal Growth: Be grateful that this happened! Why? The process of healing can lead to personal growth, self-discovery and genuine spiritual evolution. You can learn from the experience and become a stronger, more resilient and compassionate individual.
  5. Protect Your Well-Being: Fall in love with your life! Prioritizing your healing helps protect your overall well-being and allows you to live a happier, more fulfilling life. You can give yourself the love and care that you were longing for in the toxic connection.
Certainly, going no or low contact with a narcissist can be a crucial step in protecting your well-being and emotional health. Additionally, understanding concepts like “gray rock” and low contact or “yellow rock” can be helpful in managing interactions with a narcissist. It can be very difficult if you are in a painful divorce with someone like this or if you have to co-parent. It might not be possible to have no contact, and in that case you can do something called Gray Rock which is short, curt, minimal words with no emotional response. Tina Swithen, from OneMomsBattle.com, coined the term called Yellow Rock, and that means that you use a similar, flat non-emotional response as in gray rock. But in yellow rocking, you include social niceties like “hope you’re doing well, have a great day,” so there’s not an inference of passive aggression.



What is Gray Rock and Low Contact (Yellow Rock)?

  • Gray Rock: Gray rock is a technique used when you must have some contact with a narcissist, such as in co-parenting or work situations. It involves becoming emotionally unresponsive and as boring as a gray rock. You avoid showing strong emotions or engaging in drama, making yourself an uninteresting target for the narcissist’s manipulation.
  • Low Contact or Yellow Rock: Low contact means limiting contact with a narcissist to the bare minimum necessary, typically for legal, social, practical or unavoidable reasons. You reduce communication to what is strictly required, avoiding unnecessary engagement to minimize exposure to their toxicity, and include the basic social formality.

Both gray rock and yellow rock, or low contact, can be strategies to protect yourself from the negative effects of a narcissist while maintaining some level of interaction when going fully no contact is not possible or practical. I know from first-hand experience, this whole process is very difficult. We always want to see the good in people, and we always long to resolve conflict. However, we must understand thoroughly that narcissistic or antisocial people actually thrive on conflict and no resolve is possible.

Internal No Contact, Where it Really Matters

Having been discarded, we do tend to ruminate and it never feels resolved. We have to find a way to uncover inner peace, health, and wellness even after this type of abuse. No contact isn’t just about social media blocking, it’s about not giving that person any more mental or emotional energy.

There’s an old story of two celibate monks who encountered a beautiful woman at the foot of a small river that they needed to cross. One of the monks offers to pick her up and brings her across the river and drops her off at the other side. After about a mile of walking, his friend says “you know it’s against our monastic vows for you to have picked up that woman like that.” The monk replies “I dropped her off a mile ago, why are you still carrying her with you?” The ultimate no contact is to let them go from your mind and heart. We can wish them well, and pray that through education and social awareness, that we learn to spot these types of people and don’t get entrapped by toxic people or patterns.

It’s also important to remember that healing and seeking professional support from a therapist, support group or coach, are crucial, regardless of the level of contact you maintain with a narcissist. With education, no contact and self-care, very deep and profound emotional and soul-level healing, over time is not only possible, but… probable.

Warmest healing wishes to all in your recovery!

Greetings, everyone!
This is Dawn Boiani again from BuddhistSomatics.com, and I run a women’s wellness blog. I write about, basically my personal experience, being a survivor of generational narcissistic abuse, and then, organizational narcissism from recreating those same root family patterns by joining an unhealthy spiritual community that was led by someone that recreated that same family dynamic that I grew up with. So, I wanted to write to you tonight about, narcissistic abuse because, it just happened to me and I’m in a great amount of pain. Anyone that has been in relationship with a narcissist, be it a lover, a parent, a close friend, an employer, it’s one of the most violent types of abuse because oftentimes it’s psychological. And in other types of abuse where someone is physically assaulting you or sexually assaulting you, it’s very easy to demarcate yourself from the perpetrator because there’s an actual crime that occurred that’s empirically proven. But with narcissistic abuse, the kind of back and forth and the sort of, wooing you in for narcissist’s supply to build up their self-esteem and self-worth at your expense; it acts like love. And oftentimes, if you’ve been in relationship with the disordered person like that, they’ve hurt you so much that you’re the walking wounded as far as that relationship is concerned.

Trauma Bonds

The moment that the person would come back to you and resolve this, it actually feels like such a relief. So even though you’ve been abused by this person, be it a family member, coworker, lover, spouse, you’re hurting and it feels unresolved. It feels like a raw, open wound. So when the person comes back against all that is intuitive and sane, you will re-engender the relationship and hope that this time it will be different. Now they’ve “finally seen the light” and they’re going to be accountable, culpable for how much they hurt you, and they’re going to apologize and everything’s going to be okay. So we keep on going back to these people with the hope that they have conscience and that they care and they want to resolve what was hurtful. So that’s, that’s actually called a trauma bond. These bonds are really intense, biochemically, it’s like Pavlov’s dog, you’re always hoping that you’re going to have the pellet.

It’s like you wait around for that and it can become obsessive. It can become debilitating to try to seek resolve from someone who’s emotionally abusive. This type of abuse is truly insidious because, the narcissist or disordered person will intentionally use things against you to devalue you. It can be very subtle sometimes. It’s not always yelling and screaming, [throwing] pots and pans, or sexual or physical assault. It’s just this insidious indication that: I’ve hurt you, you’re there to build me up if you don’t agree to the unspoken rule that you never confront a narcissist.  You have to walk on eggshells and cajole this person, then if you break the unspoken rule, it causes narcissistic injury, narcissistic rage, and the person can become really intensely cruel and then…discard you.

Devalue, Discard and Hovering

And then it cycles around once they’ve settled down and they miss you or something, then they come back around just to do it again. So it is this really unhealthy, toxic thing, but it is so heart wrenching. I love the quote: “no scar on my heart ever came from anyone I hated.” I was just the recipient of narcissistic abuse for about an hour and a half yesterday from a parent. And we’re in that situation where we have a family member and there’s an inheritance and there’s end of life. My family are, just a piranha pool of dysfunction and hatred and vitriol, swearing and chain smoking and just is really like atrocious toxic energy. Just no love, no kindness, backstabbing, triangulating, dyads, triads, looking for fault, abusing, yelling, swearing, physical assaults. Then after you’ve assaulted someone, then the person who is a perpetrator goes and says, “well, you deserved it.”

No Contact?

So that’s my family and my own husband had said, “we really can’t have contact with them.” But me, being a good Pollyanna codependent, always hoping for the best, and being eternally wounded, always will, with tears and with an open heart and with hope, kind of like a Saint Bernard, always hopes maybe that person will someday come around and appreciate me and say, “I really loved you.” You were a great daughter, you were a great sister, you were a great niece. We value you. But my family has chosen me as the scapegoat for the whole family shadow. As far as I can see back, these patterns, these unhealthy, toxic, dysfunctional patterns have gone on for generations. I have a 16 year old daughter, and I’ve tried really hard to not impart that toxicity to her.

I think she’s gotten some of it because I was raised with this, but I feel like she’s fundamentally healthy. And, the buck sort of stops here. I didn’t do to her the same things that my family did to me.  I hope that she’s the new generation of healing, that’s the best that we can do. We can’t go back and we can’t fix our our families of origin, but we can stop the bleeding and stop recreating those patterns into the next generation. I think I’ve done that, but right now, I just am writing to you because, I’m shaking and my heart rate is resting pulse of about a hundred. I have a trip planned for tomorrow with my family. We were going to go to the beach and hang out and be underneath palm trees. Now, I have to cancel that because of narcissistic abuse from my mom.

emotional rape

No Resolve

The abuse went on for about an hour and a half. I was yelled at, I was counter projected, I was blamed, I was insulted. I was told things like, well, the family wants to see your daughter, but not you. It was really vicious. You can’t imagine that a mother would ever speak to a child that way, but that’s my experience. It’s gone on for 53 years and  I’ve become a Buddhist and got into meditation and learned forgiveness, meditated, cried, rebirthing, done heavy breathing, yogic stuff, upwards of $50,000 of therapy, and one phone call reopens the scar, and it is just like I’m four years old again, being abused by a parent.

When you’re abused, I was abused actually in the crib, neglected, part of the damage is pre-concept. So when the perpetrator comes back, you, it reopens something that’s often you don’t even have access to it in your conceptual mind. So all of my amazing techniques, I have 84,000 techniques to remedy pain, ALL go out the window. They’re useless in the in the midst of abuse. It’s like, energetically, narcissists, when they are abusive, it’s actually a form of emotional rape. They hover you in by believing that they’re safe and that they care about you. They forge intimacy, you open to them and then they try to have power over you. So they say things that make you feel like you have no merit, no value. It’s devaluing, insulting, condescending, using things to trump you intellectually or financially, like my mother used to say, “no matter how hard you try, you’ll never be as beautiful as I am.”

Whatever they can say to put you down, that makes them feel that they can build themselves up and actually gives them sort of a ego bump. Narcissists are predicated on a deep chasm of self-loathing, self hatred, inner disdain. They overcompensate by being self consumed, using others to build them up in a predatory way and discarding them when that supply is no longer feeding their vacuum, bottomless pit. So once you get hip, they get bored of you, you confront, or you’re not giving them the kudos that they live on, they are predatory, they are parasitic, you get cut out, you get usually a narcissistic rage, sworn at, attacked, and then ultimately blocked. So, I was raised by someone like this, a primary relationship. So that’s kind of the m.o. of my life.


I encounter these people, from time to time. It’s like an unspoken magnet. It’s like, I think they call it trauma reenactment. There’s this unspoken thing where it just kind of lights up. I meet this person who’s an abuser, who is a narcissist, who is the vacuum, who is a predator. And it’s like heroin, it’s  compulsive. I can’t not, get into a codependent rapport with them where they hurt me, they break me, and then I try really hard to fix it. (fawn) So this dynamic has happened time and time again in my life. And relationships, romantic relationships, even friendships, it’s a constant theme, with my family. A lot of them are still alive, and disordered people. So, I’ve worked very hard to try to do things like block people, tell them to please stay out of my life.

But it is so hard. it’s much easier said than done to block a family member. I guess you have very deep karma. Other people, like my husband, will look at the outside and say, your mother’s sworn at you, she’s assaulted you, and you were 36 years old! She has used the F word in front of your child, she’s run around the house screaming. Why would you engender a relationship with someone who is disordered or deranged or tempered tantrums and emotionally violent? Walk away!” [He suggests]. Then I start crying, like as if I’m a baby, I’m 53 and I could start crying. And I say, “because I love her.” And no one no person, even disordered people are all evil. It becomes almost like an existential question. Like, if I give up, then it’s almost a testament to human beings being evil.

The Birth of Codependency

I don’t want to let go of the hope that the person would have a conscience, heal what they did that was wrong, and we could have a relationship. So, the hope never goes away in my heart, to be able to heal these narcissistic relationships. It really is the heart, the architecture of codependency. Like, codependency is defined as, you have an unhealthy attachment with someone and they hurt you, and yet you continue to engender the relationship. They call it fight, flight, [freeze] or fawn. Those are three different types of trauma responses. You get into high conflict or you try to block or run away, or you try to care take on it on and fix everything. You take on the karma and you try to process it. So those are three different unhealthy trauma responses.

So I admit being a child abuse survivor, and a physical assault survivor, from a number of sources in this life, I do the fight flight or fawn, and the people who normally, normal people who weren’t raised this way, you meet a toxic person and you recognize that and you’re like, “wow, this person is dangerous!” This person has a criminal past. This person has sworn at me, this person has devalued me, you walk away, you’re like, wow, I’m outta here… but not me! I actually like, kind of fall in love or I chase after I pursue, a parent or family member or friendship of someone that has been hurtful because I’m so like, chomping at the bit, longing to resolve it, believing that I’m lovable, believing that they must have a conscience, believing that we can all “work it out.”

And that’s how codependents work. So why it’s unhealthy and why it’s addictive is it’s almost like, with codependency as if, people become your drug of choice and alcoholic, would, even if their health is in danger, continue to drink until their liver fails, or heroin until someone OD’s. You do the same thing energetically with a person. You engender a toxic relationship of something that could actually destroy you, people can die from narcissistic abuse. They can get heart attacks, clinical depression, fibromyalgia, nervous breakdowns, because the psychological violence with narcissistic abuse is so incredibly cruel. It usually results in a, discard, devaluation and discard like a complete cut. The [narcissistic] person will usually say, “you mean absolutely nothing to me, stay the hell out of my life, I want no contact with you.”

This is, I’ve heard this, half a dozen times from these people. And, that type of icy cold violence, it looks good. Like, oh, we’re setting boundaries, but it’s actually a form of the most violent way of being cruel that you can possibly imagine. Because it’s saying that, you mean so little to me mean nothing,  you’re insignificant. It doesn’t matter what I did, doesn’t matter what you feel, you mean nothing. Stay the hell out of my life. You don’t even merit one sentence. So, I mean, if someone’s raping you or if someone’s hurting you and physically assaulting you, at least you matter, at least, at least you sort of are engaged and the person cares enough to be hurting you. I mean, you’re still actually in relationship with the person. Your being means something, even if you’re being physically abused and then being physically abused either through assault or through rape, it is so clear to, to parse out that because it is a physical, concrete thing.

Narcissistic abuse or abuse from people who are cluster B disordered is so insidious and sometimes it is so long term and it can be abuse by silence, and it can actually kill somebody. It is very, very powerful, being blocked, being discarded. Because if someone is codependent and you’re into relational resolution, conversation, working stuff out, your mind actually short circuits, you don’t know where to go. No therapist can fix it. No other lover, no friend. It’s like, that’s why I’m talking to you guys. It’s like, your mind’s sort of short circuit because you can’t go back to the perpetrator to resolve the pain.

No Closure After Discard

It stays as this sort of like, like a record skipping. It stays in your mind-stream. It never, it’s like you can’t even get on with your life. It just skips, skip, skip, skip, skip, skip skips, because it’s like you’re constantly being told by the silence that you are the wrong one. That you’re not even worth resolving it with. And this cold, icy, silent violence is, murderous. I don’t mean to be dramatic, but many people have lost their lives from being the recipients of narcissistic abuse because it is so in intensely conscienceless and cruel. I believe that some of these people that I’ve been in contact with, including my family members now around this inheritance, they actually intend to hurt. Like, what can I do to hurt her? What can I do? It sounds paranoid, and if people haven’t, I really commend anyone that has never been the recipient of a disordered person’s abuse because it is really heartbreaking.

How to Heal?

So how to heal? I mean, it is funny because I’ve studied this. I have a degree in psychology. I have a certificate as a wellness coach. I have as, as I said, $50,000 of therapy, processing, meditating…seeing rainbows. I mean, I’ve done like everything that I can possibly think of to heal. One conversation with my perpetrator, boom, I’m just devastated again for an untold amount of time. Then I heal and I feel strong again. Pick myself up by the bootstraps, dusted off, gotten back into yoga, meditation, wellness. I’m radiant and doing well, and then I feel strong. Then another, narcissist in different form, it’s usually the same one in my life. My, my mom, will come back into the life and things will be okay for a short period of time.

I open again, I hope things are well. And then BAM, another instance of abuse. There’s no, it’s been 53 years and it’s only gotten worse. And I’ve only been patient forgiven, cried, confronted, blocked. I’ve tried every single trick in the bag: silence, walking away, pre-grieving their death. I mean, you name it, I have tried, I have forged this mountain like, I’m like an expert narcissistic abuse,a nd I’m just sitting here now on November 17th. It’s 6:33 PM in Boulder, Colorado, shaking and crying intermittently for about eight hours.

It causes a complete cognitive dissonance because if I give up the hope that I can resolve things with a narcissist, then the world feels like you’re letting evil win. You’re letting the darkest part of our human-ness have power. You’re letting them define a loveless conscienceless world where we hate each other and we use each other. We spit each other out. So to give up the hope to me, it is so weird. It just feels like, you’ve given into the basest part of our being. So, like, the hope for me is the most equivalent to like something existential, I hope that humans care for each other. I hope they regret when they hurt each other. I hope that someone who I cared about would see me as being lovable and good.

Trauma Reenactment

These are very, very deep things. That’s the fuel with which we stay engaged with toxic people because being the recipient of emotional, psychological abuse, which is, like I said, it’s a form of emotional rape. It’s like you become the walking wounded and you can have a mirror resonance with these people and recreate that pattern again and again and be hurt again and again. Sometimes it can take years or a lifetime or never to heal. So, I don’t actually know the resolve. I feel that like to just walk away and say, block everything and have no contact.

Yeah, I mean, that’s the m.o. that’s what they say. There’s only, that’s the only method of being able to try to have a semblance of a healthy life after emotional rape. But, at the same time, allowing the perpetrator to get away with it, charm everyone by their charisma, triangulate people against their victim. It just feels also wrong too. It’s like if I can quote former President Bush, he said, “silence is not peace, non-action is not peace.” So at the same note, I almost have this kind of veracity or compulsion to hold abusers accountable in every way, in my personal relationships and in politics and in my religion. I found out a few years ago that, there’s a lot of alcoholism and pedophilia and, I can’t really sign up for a religion and keep perpetuating it while there’s a bunch of perpetrators there.

I can’t put pictures up of pedophiles, all day and worship them and work for them. That doesn’t sound like really great job. There’s got to be, better things to do than put up pictures of “Catholic priest” pedophiles all day long. And people who’ve, run monasteries where kids are physically and sexually assaulted, it doesn’t seem like a really holy thing, I’ve got to find a better religion. So I, I call these things out and yeah, definitely the quintessential wounded healer, social justice warrior, that was predicated on being an abuse survivor in this life. If you know what it feels like to hurt, to hurt a child, you have a whole lot of energy in your heart to fight.

And, hopefully I’ve done some good work in this life. I’ve worked in politics and I worked to prevent child abuse, worked with seniors. I’ve worked as a mental health counselor. I don’t think there’s any way to completely ever become so Teflon coated, so iron-clad that you’re not hurt by someone who you love. Even if they are a narcissist, even if they’re disordered, it still hurts. You know? And I guess somehow even being a child abuse survivor, an adult abuse survivor, there’s the kind of grace that I have to know that I can still cry.

I can still love, I can still somehow have hope, in the goodness of humans and our ethics and our ability to change, grow, be accountable for our mistakes, for our abuse, care for each other, become tender. And, heal as species in families, friendships, communities. To give up that hope to me is like life and death, I could never give it up. So will I ever become super boundary filled, hopeless, give up on all my narcissistic friends, community, family members? No, I’m not physically capable of giving up. I will always hold a candle of hope and love and appreciation because it actually has to do with my own self worth. Like, I believe that I’m lovable. Ipso facto, I believe that these people who’ve hurt me will once, the, once the fog clears, will see that I’m a good person and that I’m worthy of love.

Boundaries of Emotional Intimacy

So hope prevails. I learned something recently when I was in counseling, and the counselor talked to me about, compassion and boundaries. Codependents don’t like the word boundaries, we’re like boundaries, schmoundaries? We love everyone! Everyone’s welcome in my heart. Everyone’s welcome in my life. I love everyone. I’ll fight to the mat for love, for relationships, for friendships, you know? She said that every single person, said the counselor, is worthy of your compassion. Even people who’ve done heinous crimes, Pol Pot and Hitler, sociopaths you can understand. It is not a justification. I mean, crimes are crimes, crimes against humanity are egregious, it’s the worst of what we are, but you can have compassion. I can understand the how’s and whys of how someone would rise to power and do these horrible things.

“Everyone is worthy of your compassion, your understanding of karma, your understanding of how they came to be, but not everyone is worthy of your emotional intimacy.”

So everyone is worthy of your compassion, your understanding of karma, your understanding of how they came to be, but not everyone is worthy of your emotional intimacy. Your heart should not be just a doormat of openness that you wear on your sleeve that anyone can break. She said that, who you allow into your inner circle of intimacy are people that have earned a place to be there through trust and through proving to you that they’re emotionally safe, that they have your best interest in mind. That they will not, idealize, devalue, discard, the narcissistic pattern of psychological abuse or, minimizing you not caring about your feelings, using you for their own gains, egoic or financial or sexual or whatever. But that, and then maybe there aren’t very many people in that inner circle, maybe there is only a cat, who knows?

The people who you allow yourself to be emotionally vulnerable to, you allow people into your inner circle to become very close to you so they can hurt you, they’ve earned that place into your inner circle by proving that they love you. And that, there’s equity, equity in the relationship, equalness and reciprocity. That’s where codependents could learn boundaries. Like, hey, we do the opposite. We, we actually sometimes, it’s like the bad boy syndrome or the wounded healer, or like, we do the opposite. We kind of keep the people that would love us on the outside of the circle. We, because of the trauma reenactment and the resonance, we actually bring all the unwell people in.

We’re like, “hey, come on in, let’s duke this out, let’s fix this karmic stuff together.” So you actually bring the sick people in and keep the other ones in the outside. So it’s like a healing would be to reverse that. You have enough self love, self value, and you’ve healed to enough of a degree where you say, to the best of of what you can, family member, lover, child, pet, anyone, “you can only be in my circle of intimacy if you’ve earned a place there by proving that you are a person of, integrity, person of love, and that you, have my best interest in mind. You don’t want to hurt me. You don’t want to destroy me, you don’t want to use me. You’re not trying to game me for some nefarious purpose, but that it’s pure and it’s wholesome.”

Your Tears Are Your Love

So those are the people, even if it’s a very small circle, it’s better to have a really small circle of intimacy of people that have your best interest in mind more than a cesspool of toxic people that only destroy your life force. So that’s not compassion. Being destroyed is not compassion, you know? So anyway, I offer this to you tonight about boundaries. But, crying all day for eight hours, having been abused by a parent at 53, kind of big Baby Huey that hasn’t grown up yet. But, someone once said to me that, “your tears are your love.”

Love from a Distance

So, sometimes if people are disordered, they don’t value you or they’re unkind or cruel, it doesn’t mean that the love inside of us has to stop, but sometimes all we can do in this life is let them go and love from a distance. That’s actually compassion. And more like Ken Wilber’s Integral Way of seeing the world. Like we all have a right to manifest, all of our strengths and weaknesses and all of our neurosis and, there’s a place for it all and God’s grace kind of thing. So if a person chooses to be abusive and not value me, to use people to chew up and spit them out, to take vengeance, those are choices that they make, it doesn’t mean that I don’t love the person or see beauty in them, or have fond memories of them, but, they can’t really be in my space of intimacy if they’re going to be cruel.

And I’m glad I can still cry. I’m glad I can still love, I’m glad I can still get hurt. I think that would be worse, to have a heart that has gotten so jaded that it doesn’t feel anymore. So I’d rather go through bouts of paper thin snowflake grief, than to become hardened and to not care. I’d rather care too much than care not at all, or not enough. So, as Popeye said, “I yam what I yam.” And, tonight I’m grieving. Today I’m grieving. I have a narcissist that has no accountability and no conscience. There’s nothing I can do about it. So these are my words. This is my heart. I believe in the goodness of us all and all of my love and well wishes to everyone, always.



Sadly, many of us will experience encountering a predatory narcissist at least once in our lives, especially if we were raised by a narcissistic parent. If we are vulnerable, the damage to our heart, mind and soul can be irreparable if it goes untreated. It can be so very hard to heal or leave an abuser, and sometimes the abuse is emotional, not physical. Idealize, devaluing and then discarding a human being is one of the most poisonous, cruelest, core-soul levels of abuse that we can experience. And sadly, the perpetrators blame their victims and walk away with impunity when they find no more use for you in terms of “narcissistic supply.”

This people have a grandiose sense of self-importance, are often times “high conflict personalities” and are hallmarked by never having a sense of conscience, empathy, regret, any ability to change or sincere apology. When they get discovered or have extracted your power completely, you are replaced with no closure and they go right on to find multitudes of other prey in the wake of your decimated heart. They even feel a sense of semi-sadistic power and control, knowing that they hurt you and were successfully able to exploit your perceived weakness… love.

According to Wikipedia rape is:

Rape is a type of sexual assault usually involving sexual intercourse or other forms of sexual penetration perpetrated against a person without that person’s consent. The act may be carried out by physical force, coercion, abuse of authority or against a person who is incapable of giving valid consent, such as one who is unconscious, incapacitated, has an intellectual disability or below the legal age of consent. The term rape is sometimes used interchangeably with the term sexual assault.[4]

Emotional rape is when a person is emotionally assaulted, where another person has intentionally emotionally perpetrated against a person without that person’s consent.  No one, unless they have experienced it or have studied this type of abuse can realize how severely traumatized the victim will be.  It is an attack on their personality/spirit/soul rather than their body, it is a very misunderstood trauma and often inflicted by primary care givers.  Emotional rape is far more complex than verbal abuse and it is only when we can discuss it openly and candidly that we can help people recover from this sort of despicable abuse.

The narcissist will employ a number of tactics to do this which include:

  • Lying
  • Gaslighting
  • Smear campaign
  • Constant criticism to your face
  • Scapegoating
  • Silent treatment
  • Narcissistic rage
  • Direct verbal abuse
  • Physical abuse
  • Stealing money or possessions
  • A multitude of non-verbal signals to let you know that they view you with utter disdain and contempt.






Photo by Kat Jayne from Pexels





One of the most hurtful and dismissive non-apology apologies is for someone to say: “I’m sorry you feel that way.” It has been said to me about half dozen times by people and communities that I previously thought valued and respected me, or that were friends. It is one of the hidden tricks in an abuser’s toolbox. So let’s examine it for one minute. You’ve come to someone after they’ve been unkind, and you have care, respect and value for that person. You bravely talk about something that might have been hurtful that needs to be discussed openly. You may be an empathetic person that values healthy relational resolution. You may have invested years of friendship or in a working environment, and actually believed that you were valued and cared about. Part of health, transparency and clearing up negative karma, would be in fact, to bring to light and openly discuss something that one has done that was hurtful or insensitive, in order to clear the air and move forward in healthy way. You take a leap and venture into a slight risk of confrontation and say “hey what you said/did was really hurtful or curt and I’d  like to talk about it so we can move forward.”

And here it comes…

The armored, dismissive, narcissistic gut punch…


Ugh! Verbal violence extraordinaire, packed neatly into 6 small cutting words, usually followed up by a victim blaming, defensive counter blame and a litany of self justified excuses. You were not heard, cared about and the abuser has now doubled down, and threw your heart and all dignity under a bus. Where do we find these people, really? Where were they raised? I won’t say a barn, because my daughter works on a farm and the animals, sadly have more natural respect to each other than we often do.

Now, there is one caveat if you do hear these words, and in this case, there is sincere care. If I for example, were to wake up with a migraine and my husband says “I’m sorry you feel that way,” this is not the gaslight-y intention we are referring to above.

Abusers do not want to be accountable, ever. Let me say, ever. They are emotionally and developmentally immature, and their reactive pride is far outweighed over your feelings and longing to be heard and the pain, resolved. There are some versions of the dismissive non-apology, victim blaming to be on alert for:


“I’m sorry you feel that way.”

“I’m sorry you felt that way.”

“You are being dramatic.”

“It’s not my fault you feel upset, you need to own…”

“Why are you so sensitive/emotional/reactive?”

“Can we just move on, why are you holding this?”

“No one else [or insert name drop of another enabler] would have a problem with what I said.”


Please dear ones that care for others, strive for healthy, open and transparent relationships where there is mutual respect, appreciation and value. If you hear any of these false non-apologies, these are intended only to hurt and blame you further. I can recall two times, one recently with a girlfriend and one a few months ago where I got the “I’m sorry feel that way” non-apology and I regret to say it, but it is usually the blazing red flag sign of the end of the friendship.

I Resigned That Day

Another time, I worked for a particularly dysfunctional dharma community, and I was actually yelled at by the director. I was running their website and we had a teacher event coming and I was brand-new to the community. As a volunteer I mistakenly chose the wrong image of another teacher who was coming from Nepal. It was a digital image that I put on the website. As soon as the director told me about it I immediately made the correction apologized profusely for my error.

He turned around and yelled me and accused me of being careless even accused me of being racist, and I was so distraught that I cried. That’s no way to treat an unpaid volunteer, or even a paid one! It turned out that that community had a long list of people that could not work under this director. I recently discussed a lot of these people in these “dharmic” communities have narcissistic tendencies and can be just downright unkind behind the scenes.

They wanted me to continue working and I did too, but I said “how you treated me was very unkind and I don’t feel comfortable and it doesn’t feel safe to continue unless the director had some accountability.” This is what’s called a behavior change request in relationships. And I think it safe to say, you can imagine the response that I got from the director and his assistant. They said to me- here goes…. “we’re sorry you felt that way.” No apology for the unkindness that hedged on abuse, no regrets for my tears it is basically saying a gentleman’s “eff you.” I resigned that day. This pattern repeated itself to a greater or lesser degree with some supposedly dharmic organizations I volunteered for. For many years, I truly blamed myself, but now, stepping back and reviewing, it wasn’t all me.


Please friends, do not allow yourself to be hurt or gaslit and manipulated by unkind (non)-friends or unhealthy communities or workplaces. Do not allow them the power over you to make you feel bad about yourself. If you came to someone with sincerity, an olive branch of longing to be heard to talk about what was hurtful or what was not helpful and the person just dismisses you and has no accountability, it is time to walk away.

I do tend to be a bit Polyanna and codependent always hold on to friendships, oftentimes I’ll give them one more chance and say “hey that wasn’t really an apology I’m still hurt about X,Y and Z,” the original issue. If I’m ghosted, blocked or they respond to me with defense rather than any humility or regret, then it is time to stop the madness and put a firm shut to that door.

Before You Say “I’m sorry you feel that way.”

Now, I know it is part of our survival system that human beings are hardwired to get defensive when confronted. If you do truly value the person and they come with some type of pain or misunderstanding or seeming conflict, and they long to be heard and for resolve, please self reflect as a first step. What they are saying to you just may actually have some validity.

If they truly misheard or misinterpreted something please don’t (ever) say “I’m sorry you feel that way.” You can always say “I’m sorry this happened between us” if you truly did no harm. The best is if someone expresses something to you, take a moment before reacting or defending yourself, sit with it, put yourself in their shoes. Try to see if there’s anything that you might have done and could have done better. I believe you will find something. Once you find it, you can say “you know what I was a little bit unkind or insensitive and for that I’m sorry.” It doesn’t take that much to heal friendships, we all make mistakes, sometimes we have ask ourselves if it is worth a tiny modicum of self-awareness and putting our pride aside to simply, apologize. I think it is. Accountability is kindness, compassion and health.


Photo by Anete Lusina from Pexels
Photo by Vie Studio from Pexels

healthy relationship

Content Reformatted and Reposted in part (2-30) from https://www.elephantjournal.com/2014/12/30-important-questions-to-ask-before-we-commit-to-a-relationship/

December 4, 2014

Author: Edie Weinstein

Editor: Catherine Monkman

1. What can I offer?
2. What do I truly want in a relationship?
3. How do I define relationship?
4. What am I unwilling to accept?
5. What models did you have for loving relationships when you were growing up?
6. What did you learn from them and what did you learn from those that weren’t healthy?
7. What did you learn about self love?
8. How was love expressed in your childhood?
9. If you were a survivor of abuse, how have you done your healing work?
10. If addiction was present in your family, how has it impacted on you?
11. How do you want your relationship to mirror that of your parents and how do you want it to differ?
12. If someone disagrees with you, how do you face it?
13. When things don’t go the way you want, how do you handle disappointment?
14. How do you express emotion, most especially anger?
15. What was the best thing that ever happened in your life?
16. What was the worst thing that ever happened in your life?
17. How do you deal with change?
18. What brings you joy and satisfaction?
19. What are your values—particularly social?
20. How do you take care of yourself physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually?
21. What is your take on child raising when it comes to discipline and consequences?
22. How do you face loss?
23. When the inevitable dark nights of the soul occur, what sustains you until the morning comes?
24. Let’s talk about our sexual desires, experiences and needs.
25. If you were in a committed relationship that shifted, how has your heart healed and are you ready for a new one?
26. Do you remain friends with former partners? (By the way, I see that as a strength if the friendships are healthy and not fraught with jealousy and manipulation.)
27. How do you balance needs for “we time” and “me time,” so that you nourish yourself as well as the relationship?
28. How do you use your resources…saver, spender, sharer with money, time and energy?
29. Do you want a relationship, or do you need a relationship?
30. Who are you without one?


Photo: Man and Woman Lying on Bed Uploaded at May 20, 2017

“Let go of people who are not prepared to love you. This is the hardest thing you will have to do in your life and it will also be the most important thing. Stop having hard conversations with people who don’t want change.
Stop showing up for people who have no interest in your presence. I know your instinct is to do everything to earn the appreciation of those around you, but it’s a boost that steals your time, energy, mental and physical health.


When you begin to fight for a life with joy, interest and commitment, not everyone will be ready to follow you in this place. This doesn’t mean you need to change what you are, it means you should let go of the people who aren’t ready to accompany you.
If you are excluded, insulted, forgotten or ignored by the people you give your time to, you don’t do yourself a favor by continuing to offer your energy and your life. The truth is that you are not for everyone and not everyone is for you.
That’s what makes it so special when you meet people who reciprocate love. You will know how precious you are.


The more time you spend trying to make yourself loved by someone who is unable to, the more time you waste depriving yourself of the possibility of this connection to someone else.
There are billions of people on this planet and many of them will meet with you at your level of interest and commitment.


The more you stay involved with people who use you as a pillow, a background option or a therapist for emotional healing, the longer you stay away from the community you want.
Maybe if you stop showing up, you won’t be wanted. Maybe if you stop trying, the relationship will end. Maybe if you stop texting your phone will stay dark for weeks. That doesn’t mean you ruined the relationship, it means the only thing holding it back was the energy that only you gave to keep it. This is not love, it’s attachment. It’s wanting to give a chance to those who don’t deserve it. You deserve so much, there are people who should not be in your life.
The most valuable thing you have in your life is your time and energy, and both are limited. When you give your time and energy, it will define your existence.


When you realize this, you begin to understand why you are so anxious when you spend time with people, in activities, places or situations that don’t suit you and shouldn’t be around you, your energy is stolen.
You will begin to realize that the most important thing you can do for yourself and for everyone around you is to protect your energy more fiercely than anything else. Make your life a safe haven, in which only ′′compatible′′ people are allowed.
You are not responsible for saving anyone. You are not responsible for convincing them to improve. It’s not your work to exist for people and give your life to them! If you feel bad, if you feel compelled, you will be the root of all your problems, fearing that they will not return the favours you have granted. It’s your only obligation to realize that you are the love of your destiny and accept the love you deserve.


Decide that you deserve true friendship, commitment, true and complete love with healthy and prosperous people. Then wait and see how much everything begins to change. Don’t waste time with people who are not worth it. Change will give you the love, the esteem, happiness and the protection you deserve.”


Edit: Jan. 7, 2021  Credited to ANTHONY HOPKINS, but this has been disputed.

Photo by Garon Piceli from Pexels

A few years ago, I discovered an amazing relationship technique called Imago, a transformative compassion technique developed by Dr. Harville Hendrix and Dr. Helen LaKelly Hunt. I offer a summary of this technique as part of our relationship repair program. It is exceedingly powerful and can help people that have given up on friendships, relationships or marriages to turn them around completely; it helped me personally and still does to this day.

Even the best of us can always refine our relationship skills. We all can get into negative patterns or have moments of emotional immaturity from childhood, that we can regress back into, when triggered. This meme is a summary of some of the warning signs of when we’ve embarked upon the relationship with a toxic person or brought in toxic patterns, and in contrast, what it looks like if we learned healthy patterns. For me, the journey of self awareness and the unceasing opportunity better my relationship with myself, my friends and my family is the essence of the real spiritual path.


listening heart

Overcoming dysfunctional relationship patterns

Healthy Patterns from John Welwood’s- Journey of the Heart
Learning to love well is an ongoing art of maturing and real evolution

Toxic Patterns:

can’t take criticism
never admits to being wrong
plays mind games
extremely manipulative
self serving and selfish
tendency to lie
loves drama
can’t be trusted
expects blind loyalty, but is not loyal
twists everything you say
will not take no for an answer
lacks healthy boundaries
is punitive
stonewalls or silent treatment
is a bully
is entitled
envious or jealous

Healthy Patterns:

welcomes constructive criticism
can admit to being wrong
is clear and fair
thinks of the other
is empathetic
is honest
calms and deescalates
can be trusted
is loyal
actively listens
respects limits
has healthy boundaries
is forgiving
open communication
is humble
has problem solving skills
wants both parties to thrive
capable of sincere care
self aware and skillful

Left content credit to: A Toxic Person
@understandingthenarc/Maria Consiglio

Image from pexels

The Tantric Consort: Awakening Through Relationship

In our semi-apocalyptic time, it seems like many of us are going very deeply into introspection now. Very profound reflection is occurring on a global scale and our very species is on the precipice of survival. I believe that sometimes things have to get very dark before we have the impetus to change, akin to the alcoholic’s need to hit bottom before there’s a sufficient wake-up call and his or her survival instinct is triggered. I really believe with everything within me that this is a healing crisis of our planet, our human relationship to the planet and how we live out of balance with so much greed, our needs, desire and using of the earth’s and human resources in an imbalanced way. But, in order to make this change we have to go deep into our self reflection, look at patterns of who we are, why we feel the need to be so predatory and desire to live way beyond our means and way beyond what’s allocated to us to live in a harmonious, sustainable way.

So what’s been happening is I feel, is that the living quality of Gaia, our Mother Earth has put us all in a timeout now we have to simplify and go inward and really look and reflect who we are, what we want to create and how we can collectively survive. It seems like a lot of us have been catapulted into a fast-track of spiritual development that we weren’t necessarily prepared for. One of the most powerful ways that we can learn and grow, heal some of the deepest, darkest karmic propensities is through relationship with each other.

This is why a lot of us have been experiencing very intense relationships with ourselves, family, friends and a lot have met what is traditionally known as our twin flame. The image of a flame is the power to burn impurities, transform and re-arise like a phoenix. Meeting this person is rare, and they are supposed to be the mirror of a similar energetic signature. The meeting can be a nuclear, cataclysmic, transformative process. What happens when you look in a mirror? You see your own reflection as it is, without alteration, as the adage goes “the mirror doesn’t lie.”

Generally what happens immediately, is that one person runs away and the other person chases the other, like two flickering flames. However through this painful process of longing and heartbreak and misalignment, we begin to realize that both the running and the chasing are both forms of running away from the feeling our own union. Through the claustrophobia of the process and abject, inconsolable pain, we actually begin to see our own inner strength by reeling in the projection and grasping. My teacher told me that there’s nothing more painful than this dynamic between and man and a woman, and that could “drop kick” you into enlightenment. In the Indo-Tibetan Tantras a similar process of evolution occurs when meeting your spiritual consort. Other traditions refer to this as meeting the Beloved. A lot of us have a lot of adolescent, media infused notions of what it would be like to meet our twin flame or spiritual consort. There’s a lot of fantastic talk about union and bliss and Tantric sex and secret tantric sex practices called Karmamudra, but this real world process of growth has very little to do with that.

A Tutelary Relationship

When you meet the person that could best act as a tutelary relationship, that connection is exceedingly powerful and can help you to grow in ways that you never thought possible. Often times, if not every time, one meets this twin flame, a person’s life goes into crisis. Very, very deep dark karmic things immediately come to the surface in an almost uncanny way and causes conflict. Because of that, you attribute your own karmic baggage, blocks and pain to the relationship. This begins the infamous running away from each other process, as the two consider the relationship itself as being toxic. However in reality it’s the complete opposite of toxicity, it’s more akin to healing crisis, shedding light on what needs to be looked at so that we actually have the opportunity to heal.

However in reality it’s the complete opposite of toxicity, it’s more akin to healing crisis, shedding light on what needs to be looked at so that we actually have the opportunity to heal.

Patterns of feeling that we’re unworthy, unlovable, guilty, past issues from childhood wounding, all get stirred up and immediately rise to the surface when you meet what is considered to be a divine friend. You have a choice at that point, you can turn away from this process and try to go back to sleep which is somewhat impossible because the feeling of tapping at your shoulder and the invitation to go further into your own development becomes very loud, obsessive and almost impossible to turn away from. Or, you can recognize what’s happening you can see that indeed, the greatest gift one could encounter in life, is the spiritual consort. However, the encounter is not for the frail-hearted. If you read the history of our Tantric Buddhist Saints, the consort appears in our life and becomes a powerful method to help us open these very deep karmic blocks that we never even knew we had, and now they become accessible.

These three videos below talk about some of the basic conflict, shock and outright consternation that comes if you’ve met your twin flame. They explain the process and  how to handle the energy and survive the intensity of this powerful evolutionary process. A lot of it comes down to just simplifying, and feeling that we are really rooted in our own self-love, wholeness and well-being. It invites us to look at our codependency, grasping and how we use people as we try to make ourselves feel better and indeed social media doesn’t help, but rather exacerbates this serious type of addiction and codependency. The invitation is to begin to feel and reconnect to our own internal brightness and well-being. In tantra, this internal union, warmth free from grasping is called the Mahamudra or the Great Seal.

If you have the good fortune of having met your twin flame or your spiritual consort, you should celebrate because you’ve done sufficient work and are ready for real, core level evolution in this life. I have great faith in our species and the intelligence of the life force of this planet, and can trust the process that we will not allow ourselves to destroy ourselves and we will do this required internal work. Through this ascension into our human potential, we can help each other to live more simply, feel more real love and take care of each other and our planet and evolve into a sustainable and compassionate species that lives in harmony with each other. There will always be hardship; human beings will have moments of pride and greed and divisive things like nationalism, but that I think the fundamental harshness and what is broken this within us must heal in our species in order to survive. The personal affects the collective, so the efficacy of this work can’t be underestimated. Relationship is the most powerful, transformative gateway toward genuine healing and collective social evolution. If we have the fortune of taking time to process grief and really heal our broken spirit, the culmination is that we once again, feel warm and whole, our birthright. This can indeed, even change society. My teacher Tsoknyi Rinpoche once said:

“One person can harm the whole world, one person can help it.”

How magical of a new world we could create, from there~



Image from Pixabay
Lighted Match With Smoke on Black Background
Uploaded at March 03, 2016 and Closeup Photography of Pink Rose Flower

How to completely heal from narcissistic abuse, loss of one’s faith and become a light in a darkening world.


I grew up in a rough culture on the east coast of the United States, in Newport, Rhode Island. I was raised by a teenage mother who didn’t really have any capacity to love me. My dad left when I was 3 and the environment before then was riddled with fighting, alcoholism and violence. She remarried right away but I think due to the trauma, she was always preoccupied with herself. She seemed always in fear, very controlling, involved with vanity, how she looked, how she appeared to the world and everything centered around her and her needs. She was emotionally somewhat histrionic and the whole family walked on eggshells in fear of her temper and her hostile reaction toward us. There was no room for me and in the home, I was considered a nuisance. I was then spanked by my stepfather weekly, criticized often and spent most of my time alone in my room. I cried untold tears. I was told I was ugly, devalued and ignored and oftentimes my mother said that she wish that she never had me.

I went to school always thinking that I was a misfit and there’s something deeply wrong with me and I really wasn’t worthy of love. So I started to read a lot of books and I studied really well and I always tried to make the teachers happy with me because that was the only sense of appreciation from anyone in authority that I had. I was really close with my teachers, got the perfect grades and one time my teacher even said to my mom that I was really bright, so much so that I should go to a special school for the gifted. The teacher was concerned because I was also really sensitive and I would get bullied and beaten up and teased a lot. This all now makes sense how I grew up because if I didn’t feel a sense of worth and confidence, small children could pick up on that weakness and I’ve always been targeted for my vulnerability.

Because of the teenage pregnancy and the pain my mother suffered and her fear, she was somewhat dissociated and unwell. I would try to spend time with her and she would send me away. I realized later that she had developed into becoming a full spectrum narcissist that was not capable of loving anyone other than thinking of herself. There was no way that we could ever resolve it as mother and daughter, since part of the narcissistic mindset denies it’s own hostility and projects all negative qualities onto other people. Narcissists, as well as other personality disorders, often must have a target of their shadow and blame. For my entire life for her, I was the chosen one. Thanks Mom!

I was fortunate in my later years to discover a book called Healing the Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers, and sought counseling with the author Dr. Karyl McBride, a co-survivor. What I realized is that narcissism at it’s root, is the healthy longing for a person to take care of themselves, gone awry. What I realized is that, if we actually feel a sense of inner love and well-being, from there we can love others. The narcissists attempt to pay attention to something that’s broken inside is at it core, correct. Where it goes wrong is that the foundation of real healing and self-love is not there and in fact it’s often an emotional vacuum, devoid of compassion. From that vacuum, you begin to see others as something that you can use to fill up that hollowness and heal a core of fundamental self hatred.

Part of the fallout in this life was of course in my adulthood, to  recreate the pattern of feeling broken and bullied and looking for other friends, lovers and organizations to make everything right. This is the quintessential codependent  person that likewise feels broken and unwell and uses other people like a drug to put a giant Band-Aid on their loneliness. I would follow rock stars and then cult-like spiritual groups and none of this was super healthy because it was predicated on me feeling hollow, and unworthy looking for something, anything outside of myself to fill the void.


A NEW DAY… uncover bulletproof self love and genuine warmth for others

There’s a Buddhist slogan that says “be grateful to everyone.” I am not angry or bitter that anyone hurt me in this life, they probably had a harder time than I did, and maybe suffer even more. My spiritual community who I used to find solace and meaning in, recency dismantled in the wake of #metoo. I discovered later that guru worship had a lot of covert, exploitative narcissists, it figures that these communities felt somehow familiar. I found myself adrift, really, palpably alone. I decided to take a genuine honest look at my life, who I really am rawly and what matters to me. I feel like I gained my identity through this spiritual community and my friends there and without that, I felt devastated. I have my family but everything was starting to fall apart into an abyss and I wondered, what really has any meaning?

So from there, I decided to really go inward and not depend upon anything or anyone to make me feel better. I began to shutdown social media for longer lengths of time as to not depend upon people liking my posts to faux-foster self-esteem. I took some time to go into solitary retreat as much as I could. I was away from my husband and daughter and taking silence from some friends. I began to journal, meditate and begin the most rigorous process of self inquiry I could muster.

Then, something dawned upon me, a basic truism that I guess everyone else at figured out, but it’s taken me 50 years to realize…

I can’t love another person in a healthy way unless I have strong core of real self-love and self well-being to rely on.

This was my Aha! moment. I asked myself- how to have this life feel meaningful, how to love others and with hope, be of benefit? I can’t be codependent and broken and needing other people or religion or paltry social media to define who I am and make me feel better. I knew that was never going to work, so I decided- let’s start at square one, go into radical self-care and have a love affair with… myself… saucy. It’s a perfect time because all of us are on somewhat of a social timeout with the pandemic so it’s a great time to go inward.


I decided to get up in the morning and do some stretching or some cardio, enjoy sipping dark coffee and take warm essential oil baths. During my retreats over the years I use to meditate 8 to 10 hours a day and do a lot of chanting and complex visualizations. This time, I decided to just take time for me without any schedule or agenda, and just let life talk to me about what is fun and reconnect the sense of magic and wonder that maybe I’ve never even had in childhood. I decided to take a week or so and have absolutely no schedule (and I do feel grateful for the privilege to be able to take this time). I did whatever I wanted to do, if I wanted to journal on my blog, I would write, if I wanted to go for a walk I’d go for a walk, if I want to bake something special for myself I would. If I wanted to cry, I’d cry, whatever was there was listened to and honored, nothing repressed. It’s actually kind of outrageous to take even a day, a weekend, a week or a month to just feel alive, go outside and feel grass under your feet, feel sun on your cheeks, lay on a hammock and see a cloudless sky, and just feel like this life is yours, rather than always having to do something for work or for someone else.

This is where a little tiny light inside my heart started to shine and turn on. I could see it in my eyes when I looked at myself in the mirror, I began to feel the sense of self-love and self appreciation and gratitude for this life. I don’t think I really had this before, it’s taken more than half of my life to finally feel this, and it required that I let go of my tradition, every spiritual, ego prop and support.


self care


I begin to see how real love and real well-being works since it’s never been modeled to me before. If we have this inner spark of warmth, the power and efficacy of that can’t be underestimated. The cultivation of inner warmth can give us so much strength to be able to handle these darkening times. If we can take refuge in our own inner love and well-being in real way, we can’t be narcissistic or codependent, these facets of the same brokenness dissolve. In Buddhism, we call this maitri and and it’s considered a wish fulfilling jewel or diamond. Inner warmth is like a diamond because if you think about it for a minute, if someone criticizes you it may hurt but it doesn’t stick because you know yourself and are grounded in your own well-being. Likewise, if someone complements you or likes your social media, it doesn’t get used as ego’s fodder. We consider this process of compliment and criticism to be one of the worldly dharmas. Things are always arising in duality, both positive and negative, we have both floods and rainbows, love and loss, everything is always changing. Behind that, there’s an inner mountain of real strength that we can access, that we can have our own backs, even up unto our last breath. Through taking time for this deep self care, a love affair firstly with ourselves, we can finally uncover this real, bulletproof inner warmth and joy. You’ve heard the cliche, “you can’t love anyone if you can’t love yourself.” If the relationship with ourselves is caring with positive self talk, we can then create healthy interactions with others, with qualities of real compassion, listening, patience and problem solving.

“Tune in, turn on” and shine your light into these dark times my dear friends, it can help to change our very world. ☀️



Photo by Joshua Abner from Pexels

healthy love

I think in these days of speed and trauma and a lot of us living in the Internet, I think we’ve learned maladaptive patterns of what it is to be in a healthy relationship. If we’ve grown up with a dysfunctional family, we may not even know what that is. Oftentimes love is just a series of manipulations and games, based on our brokenness and our unhealed wounding. We’re so afraid of getting hurt that we wind up withdrawing and hurting the other person first. Love can be just become a sad strategic game of power and control. Psychological and emotional abuse can be some of the only ways that people know how to relate. Unhealthy dynamics of narcissism and codependency, where you have a push me-pull you based on our co/core brokenness can become the norm.

I have the good fortune of being married for 20 years and have a healthy family and daughter, but it was hard forged. I came from a dysfunctional family and had myriads of abusive relationships before meeting my husband in my late 20s. Before him, I was even attacked a few times, once it was sadly close to deadly. I wasn’t able to see the red flags and from my naïveté and lack of experience, I didn’t know what types of men to stay away from and what types to accept. Thankfully, I did learn and I chose a very stable, grounded and clear person that has said that he would stay with me for my entire life.

However, no marriage is perfect and no person is perfect. We all have our strengths and weaknesses, personality flaws and capacities. The greatest danger in a long-term marriage is you can stop listening to each other, take each other for granted and you stop learning and growing. It happens all too often that the relationship over many years begins to flatline. I believe at this point, that marriages can fail. I think we’re hardwired two want to learn, to grow, to better ourselves and evolve through honest self reflection and introspection. I think it’s important for us to examine what real healthy love looks like versus unhealthy patterns.

I have always felt that relationship *is* the path, so the quality of love and how we are with those close to us, is our spiritual teacher, is everything. I’ve heard time and time again, from people on their deathbed, that the only thing that they say really mattered to them was the people that they love and any regrets that they have for anyone that they’ve hurt. Even people who have great devotion in some faith very rarely talk about the afterlife or their religious beliefs, it always comes down to the people who we treasured and who love us.

The first step I find in being able to be in healthy relationship is to be in a healthy relationship with myself. Do I talk to myself with a sense of gratitude, appreciation, forgiveness and kindness? Do I do the things that involve self-care like eating well, exercise, meditating and living my life’s calling as best as I can? Our romantic relationships will be a reflection of how we love, talk to and treat ourselves. From there, I think we naturally choose people that are capable of loving in a healthy way, are able to problem solve if difficulties arise and most importantly, people who can apologize and make personal change if they happen to make a mistake.

This is the single most key that differentiates a person with solid, closed, defensive narcissistic tendencies, from someone that is on some type of spiritual path of self awakening. This list above is a very simple and good guideline for us to examine the difference between genuine healthy love and love that is codependent based on our wounding and our trauma. I always say just like Jung’s image of the shadow, the moment you shine a light on a shadow, it disappears. I believe the no matter what happen to us in this life, no matter how much pain we are in, no matter how much trauma, all of us with some effort, deserve to love well and to be loved well. I don’t think any of us are cursed to be doomed to live a life of lonely solitude because of the things that happen to us. Once again, looking at how we can create the greatest love within and without is to me, the essence of the entire, truly brave, spiritual path.

We all long for and deserve the highest love.

There’s been a lot of public hype recently about something called twin flames. The notion is that there’s only one person out there that shares a very similar energetic signature that’s literally the other half of your soul. It’s deeper than a loving soulmate, it’s actually considered to be a mirror of yourself, like as if the mind/ spirit part of you split in two bodies. In Hollywood we’ve heard a lot about Megan Fox believing that her twin flame is Gun Kelly, and they share some type of special, magic, passionate, transformative and unbreakable bond.

I have some personal experience regarding this phenomena and a few insights, since there seems to be a lot of confusion, conflict and pain associated with people’s experiences. I once encountered someone who threw my entire world upside down. I began to reevaluate my life, my religion (riddled with scandals after our #metoo movement), and my very place in this world and purpose. There was an uncanny confluence where a very short period of time spent with this person, caused me to unearth very deep core, childhood wounds that I thought that I had well-healed from.

However, even with the propensity for going deep and internal growth, there was still a lot of high conflict, hostility and projection, which caused both of us to breakdown communication and be in no contact (to survive, literally). All of this pain and rapid triggering, according to the experts, is a classic and quintessential twin flame encounter.

I broke down or open, if you will, deeply into myself and wondered “was this all my fault, what did I do wrong, what should I do to fix this, is it fixable? What happened to me in my past that could have caused such heartbreak? What happened to the other in his past where he could be so mistrustful and wounded and filled with nothing short of hatred?” After it was clear that no resolve with him at that point was possible, I sought help from my spiritual teachers and my meditation practice. I journaled, wrote poems and cried endless tears. I joined with other twin flame forums to try to parse out what was happening to me. My friends said they had never seen me as wounded and injured by anyone in my entire life. Some people were really supportive and allowed a compassionate ear for me to cry and process, and other’s victim blamed and said “oh I was too attached and I should get over all this emotionality and be in some type of more spiritually evolved, ‘higher vibration.'” I was even insulted on twin flame support forums for not being “love and light-y” enough. No one could really stop or heal the momentum of the tears of confusion, it felt like my heart had been put into a wheat thrasher.

One of the current themes of our support groups on Facebook is that people can’t assess whether or not this is a spiritual connection or classic narcissistic/borderline abuse. There are overtones of both and one thing I like to mention is that there’s a huge amount of awareness about narcissism because it is very culturally prevalent these days. We don’t talk enough about other personality disorders which are almost as statistically prevalent, namely borderline, only 1/2 a percentage point less frequently occurring in society, according to the DSMIV.

From what I read, unlike narcissism, which can be cold, borderline personality is a highly emotionally reactive type of disorder. There is often a person that gets targeted by the borderline and there’s an energetic entrainment. It’s a type of psychic, emotional vampirism, and is exceedingly destructive, poisonous, hurtful and life draining. It’s unfortunately, often the outcome for people who were physically or/or sexually abused or profoundly neglected at very early age; they have a lot of trouble with trust and being able to love people in any healthy way. There is a tendency to see others as all black-and-white, with an intense love-hate attachment and fear of abandonment, it’s called lack of object constancy. The good news is, that according to Dr. Ramani, Borderline Personality Disorder is treatable, whereas with narcissism, there is little hope that they will ever seek help.

The Runner/ Chaser- A Classic Dance of a Narcissist and a Codependent

The recipient of a disordered person’s attack can experience confusion and crazy making. They will often receive dichotomous, mixed messages like: “I hate you, leave me alone, don’t leave me” all in one sentence. This is common and an expression of deep inner conflict, fear and wounding. When an unsuspecting, open and caring person encounters someone like this, the harm strikes really deep and it triggers any of the recipient’s unhealed abandonment issues. Also, the pain and hurt instigates any propensity to try to rescue and remedy the situation, almost to the point of compulsion. The compulsion comes because the narc/borderline was often so cruel and saw us in a dehumanizing, exceedingly negative light, and we strive to prove them wrong. This process, when someone takes away all of our dignity, value and power is nothing short of devastating. Now, none of us are labels, but there are some regular established patterns with certain maladaptive patterns that can help us all to contextualize and make sense of our experiences. These two videos below even though they’re cartoons, they perfectly encapsulate what a lot of us have been experiencing with these so called, twin flame connections. If any of this resonates, I urge you to listen to every word.

So, all of this forces us to assess the rich and colorful palette of narcissistic abuse which entails: hostility, projection, devaluing, discarding, stonewalling, ghosting and hoovering. These abusive games should not in the least, be of interest to a healthy person. It’s not some spiritual “twin flame runner and chaser” that is trying to find balance, it’s abuse, period.  An affirmation to let go of a hurtful “twin flame” might say:

“Thank you so much for letting me see myself, the fact that I feel that I’m lovable what I want and what I don’t and as it is, I’ll have to let you go. I would always care about you, and hoped it could’ve been different but without any change, insight, contrition or treatment, repeated unhealthy patterns are not sustainable. I hope to see you in the ‘next life,’ where we have a more healed, supportive, nurturing and whole existence.”




So, the question still stands… is the conflict of meeting someone and falling deeply into “love” (or codependency) and hurt like this, a true twin flame or is it just being confused/ conflated with narcissistic or some personality disordered abuse? My assessment from personal experience as of today, is that it’s both occurring simultaneously. One is the undercurrent of our karmic connections, propensities and childhood experiences. The other, meeting someone and feeling sense of familiarity and synchronicity that both breaks and opens you, that’s all real. There is a spiritual and karmic undercurrent of this whole process. However divine and absolute that is, as one expert in BPD, A.J. Mahari coins: “there is never an excuse for abuse.” We must also admit, the codependents that try to fix are often as wounded as the abusers, so it’s not about blame, is about healing, discrimination, healthy boundaries and manifesting genuine, healthy love. 

We must strive for and accept no less than healthy love, and here are some guidelines:

  • There is no physical, emotional or psychological abuse
  • You feel heard, cared for and respected
  • You are able to have open, honest communication, never any lies or games
  • You have skills to successfully resolve disagreements and conflict
  • You bring out the best in each other and support each other to flourish

If you are experiencing abuse, it’s never ok, please seek professional help and if the connection is untenable. It’s a facet of self care, self love and compassion, to leave toxic, destructive situations. The hope that people will magically change abusive patterns can be the most tragic loss of time, energy and our precious life. The mantra for empaths and codependents who wait and hope that it will get better with a narcissist, borderline or other untreated disordered person is:


I was taught to never give up on anyone, and I to this day believe that with the proper support system, no one is irredeemable, if one were to get help. It’s just a sad truism that part of certain people’s disorder is to deny, not see their shortcomings and unhealed places, but rather blame everyone else, constantly, vehemently. The codependent in contrast, blames themselves and continually apologies and tries to rescue, desperately. It’s the quintessence of the “bad boy” attraction that many women have, or men who are attracted to “unattainable” withholding women. There is an intense drive to heal and fix, and “unite,” but this is the very definition of codependency. I think there is a longing also admittedly, to be valued and needed. What many learn the hard way, is that this task is perilous, it’s par with trying to get anyone to stop drinking. Change must come from within. There is a dangerous and toxic back and forth, damaging dynamic, that can go on for a lifetime between people with an untreated personality disorder and codependents, and no, it’s not a healthy, spiritual “twin flame.” No relationship is perfect, but we can get help or steer clear of ones that are harmful without resolve. Stay with healthy, loving people who see your light, and moreso, uncover it within yourself, for yourself and then shine.

Wellness to all,
Dawn Boiani-Sandberg

“The dharma means seeing things clearly, as they are”

Owner Buddhistmala.com

Photo Credit Dante’s Inerno, artist: James de Villiers
I’ve a wide-ranging interest in the arts from painting and drawing to music composition as well as science. My art deals with the primal forces of nature.