In today's episode, we dive deep into the complexities of neurodiversity and narcissism in relationships. Our guest, Jodi Carlton, brings a wealth of expertise, drawing from over two decades of experience as a therapist, educator, and coach, with a special focus on neurodiversity. She has an intimate understanding of neurodivergent individuals. She has worked extensively with individuals and couples across 13 countries, dealing with a spectrum of conditions, including depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and brain injury.

In this conversation, Jodi offers her invaluable insights into the often misunderstood correlations and distinctions between autism and narcissism. She shares her perspective on the possibility of ADHD being recognized as part of the autism spectrum, a debate that continues to influence how we understand and support neurodivergent individuals.

Moreover, Jodi delves into the potentially harmful dynamics of relationships with narcissists, drawing from her own experiences as a survivor of narcissistic abuse. Her personal journey of recovery from codependency provides a poignant backdrop for this discussion, highlighting the strength, resilience, and hope that can emerge from the darkest of times.

Join us as we navigate the intricate webs of human behavior, emotions, and relationships, and gain a more profound understanding of the complexities of the human mind. This episode is a must-listen for anyone seeking to deepen their understanding of neurodiversity and narcissism and their impact on personal and interpersonal well-being.

You can learn more about Jodi by taking her quizzes and courses at http://jodicarlton.com

Use the following code to purchase the 2023 Sex Summit for only $35 featuring Tony's presentation: Relationship Tools You Don't Know You Need - Tips and Tools Born From 15 Years of Practice w/1500 Couples. https://thedatingdivas.myshopify.com/discount/TONY23?redirect=%2Fproducts%2Fsex-seminar-2023

Or use the following code to purchase 2020, 2021, 2023, and 2024 seminars for only $80: https://thedatingdivas.myshopify.com/discount/TONYBUNDLE23?redirect=%2Fproducts%2Fsex-seminar-2023-bundle

Find all the latest links to podcasts, courses, Tony's newsletter, and more at https://linktr.ee/virtualcouch

And follow Tony on the Virtual Couch YouTube channel for a sneak preview of his upcoming podcast "Murder on the Couch," where True Crime meets therapy, co-hosted with his daughter Sydney. You can watch a pre-release clip here https://youtu.be/-RkRq8SrQy0

Subscribe to Tony's latest podcast, "Waking Up to Narcissism Q&A - Premium Podcast," on the Apple Podcast App. 

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/waking-up-to-narcissism-q-a/id1667287384

Go to http://tonyoverbay.com/workshop to sign up for Tony's "Magnetize Your Marriage" virtual workshop. The cost is only $19, and you'll learn the top 3 things you can do NOW to create a Magnetic Marriage. 

You can learn more about Tony's pornography recovery program, The Path Back, by visiting http://pathbackrecovery.com And visit http://tonyoverbay.com and sign up to receive updates on upcoming programs and podcasts.

Tony mentioned a product that he used to take out all of the "uh's" and "um's" that, in his words, "must be created by wizards and magic!" because it's that good! To learn more about Descript, click here https://descript.com?lmref=bSWcEQ

Today we dig more into the age-old question, "Should I stay or should I go?" And if I'm staying, what are some strategies to help maintain one's sanity? Tony unpacks a poignant email from a listener, shedding light on the subtle nuances of gaslighting - a common manipulation tactic used by narcissists. Through this exploration, you'll learn to identify these underhanded strategies, empowering you to take a step back and view the situation through an informed lens.

Tony also shares a captivating story about letting go of the need for validation from a narcissistic partner. He emphasizes the importance of reclaiming personal power, urging listeners to prioritize their emotional well-being and regain self-confidence. This tale exemplifies the journey to self-discovery and showcases the strength of spirit it takes to break free from these relationships.

Use the following code to purchase the 2023 Sex Summit for only $35 featuring Tony's presentation: Relationship Tools You Don't Know You Need - Tips and Tools Born From 15 Years of Practice w/1500 Couples. https://thedatingdivas.myshopify.com/discount/TONY23?redirect=%2Fproducts%2Fsex-seminar-2023

Or use the following code to purchase 2020, 2021, 2023, and 2024 seminars for only $80: https://thedatingdivas.myshopify.com/discount/TONYBUNDLE23?redirect=%2Fproducts%2Fsex-seminar-2023-bundle

Find all the latest links to podcasts, courses, Tony's newsletter, and more at https://linktr.ee/virtualcouch

And follow Tony on the Virtual Couch YouTube channel for a sneak preview of his upcoming podcast "Murder on the Couch," where True Crime meets therapy, co-hosted with his daughter Sydney. You can watch a pre-release clip here https://youtu.be/-RkRq8SrQy0

Subscribe to Tony's latest podcast, "Waking Up to Narcissism Q&A - Premium Podcast," on the Apple Podcast App. 

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/waking-up-to-narcissism-q-a/id1667287384

Go to http://tonyoverbay.com/workshop to sign up for Tony's "Magnetize Your Marriage" virtual workshop. The cost is only $19, and you'll learn the top 3 things you can do NOW to create a Magnetic Marriage. 

You can learn more about Tony's pornography recovery program, The Path Back, by visiting http://pathbackrecovery.com And visit http://tonyoverbay.com and sign up to receive updates on upcoming programs and podcasts.

Tony mentioned a product that he used to take out all of the "uh's" and "um's" that, in his words, "must be created by wizards and magic!" because it's that good! To learn more about Descript, click here https://descript.com?lmref=bSWcEQ

Today’s show notes have been generated by ChatGPT-4 based on the transcript of the episode: Tony takes a deep dive into understanding and distinguishing between three complex behavioral patterns - Nice Guy/Girl Syndrome, Emotional Immaturity, and Narcissism. 

Tony kicks off the discussion with a comprehensive analysis of Nice Guy/Girl Syndrome. He defines the syndrome, deciphers its impact on relationships, and shares practical strategies to overcome it. He draws on his vast professional experience to provide examples, demonstrating how it manifests in everyday life and highlighting the detrimental cycle it can trigger if not addressed.

Moving forward, Tony navigates us through the intricate world of Emotional Immaturity. He elucidates the signs of emotional immaturity, its roots in childhood experiences, and how it can stifle personal growth and sabotage relationships. Moreover, Tony explores how emotional immaturity differs from other behavior patterns, creating a clearer picture of this often misunderstood condition.

The third segment of the episode is dedicated to a robust discussion on Narcissism. Tony breaks down the classic narcissistic traits and explains the critical differences between Narcissistic Personality Disorder and self-centered behaviors. With his unique therapeutic approach, he offers insight into how to cope if you find yourself in a relationship with a narcissist.

For the second half of the episode, Tony enters the lively arena of a private women's Facebook group, addressing a burning question - is the change in an emotionally immature husband real, or only temporary? To answer this, Tony explains the difference between genuine change and manipulation, providing actionable advice for those grappling with such doubts in their relationships. He highlights key indicators of authentic personal growth, empowering listeners to discern between genuine transformation and superficial change.

Join Tony for this enlightening episode as he distills complex psychological concepts into digestible insights and practical advice. Whether you're trying to better understand yourself, navigate your relationship, or support a loved one, this episode offers invaluable guidance. Don't miss this opportunity to deepen your understanding of these common but often misunderstood behavioral patterns.

Use the following code to purchase the 2023 Sex Summit for only $35 featuring Tony's presentation: Relationship Tools You Don't Know You Need - Tips and Tools Born From 15 Years of Practice w/1500 Couples. https://thedatingdivas.myshopify.com/discount/TONY23?redirect=%2Fproducts%2Fsex-seminar-2023

Or use the following code to purchase 2020, 2021, 2023, and 2024 seminars for only $80: https://thedatingdivas.myshopify.com/discount/TONYBUNDLE23?redirect=%2Fproducts%2Fsex-seminar-2023-bundle

Find all the latest links to podcasts, courses, Tony's newsletter, and more at https://linktr.ee/virtualcouch

And follow Tony on the Virtual Couch YouTube channel for a sneak preview of his upcoming podcast "Murder on the Couch," where True Crime meets therapy, co-hosted with his daughter Sydney. You can watch a pre-release clip here https://youtu.be/-RkRq8SrQy0

Subscribe to Tony's latest podcast, "Waking Up to Narcissism Q&A - Premium Podcast," on the Apple Podcast App. 

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/waking-up-to-narcissism-q-a/id1667287384

Go to http://tonyoverbay.com/workshop to sign up for Tony's "Magnetize Your Marriage" virtual workshop. The cost is only $19, and you'll learn the top 3 things you can do NOW to create a Magnetic Marriage. 

You can learn more about Tony's pornography recovery program, The Path Back, by visiting http://pathbackrecovery.com And visit http://tonyoverbay.com and sign up to receive updates on upcoming programs and podcasts.

Tony mentioned a product that he used to take out all of the "uh's" and "um's" that, in his words, "must be created by wizards and magic!" because it's that good! To learn more about Descript, click here https://descript.com?lmref=bSWcEQ

Have you ever received accusations from a narcissist or emotionally immature person, left bewildered by claims about your words or actions? Have you ever been blamed for instructing your father on roofing specifics when you know nothing about roofs, even though your spouse is a roofer? In this episode, Tony delves into real-life stories from his exclusive women's Facebook group, examining instances where the narcissist or emotionally immature person is clueless about the extent of their gaslighting. These individuals share experiences of being accused of actions or words they genuinely couldn’t have come up with. Alongside these stories, Tony explores the concept of betrayal trauma and introduces listeners to the "attachment injury apology." Tune in to understand, unravel, and ultimately untangle the complex world of emotional manipulation.

Find all the latest links to podcasts, courses, Tony's newsletter, and more at https://linktr.ee/virtualcouch

And follow Tony on the Virtual Couch YouTube channel for a sneak preview of his upcoming podcast "Murder on the Couch," where True Crime meets therapy, co-hosted with his daughter Sydney. You can watch a pre-release clip here https://youtu.be/-RkRq8SrQy0

Subscribe to Tony's latest podcast, "Waking Up to Narcissism Q&A - Premium Podcast," on the Apple Podcast App. 

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/waking-up-to-narcissism-q-a/id1667287384

Go to http://tonyoverbay.com/workshop to sign up for Tony's "Magnetize Your Marriage" virtual workshop. The cost is only $19, and you'll learn the top 3 things you can do NOW to create a Magnetic Marriage. 

You can learn more about Tony's pornography recovery program, The Path Back, by visiting http://pathbackrecovery.com And visit http://tonyoverbay.com and sign up to receive updates on upcoming programs and podcasts.

Tony mentioned a product that he used to take out all of the "uh's" and "um's" that, in his words, "must be created by wizards and magic!" because it's that good! To learn more about Descript, click here https://descript.com?lmref=bSWcEQ

Tony tackles the final 2 of the 5 types of narcissism in part 2 of 2, exploring the 5 types of narcissism. In part 1, he covered Overt and Covert, and he started to discuss Antagonistic narcissism, which led to a separate episode. Today Tony discusses Communal and Malignant narcissism. He references the article "5 Types of Narcissism and How to Spot Each," Medically reviewed by Jeffrey Ditzell, DO written By Courtney Telloian — Updated on September 15, 2021http://psychcentral.com/health/types-of-narcissism

And stay tuned until the end of the podcast! Tony shares 20 minutes of the first episode of his new “true crime meets therapy” podcast “Murder on the Couch,” co-hosted by his daughter Sydney Overbay. You can watch the episode on YouTube here https://youtu.be/OKidvzLAbI0 or follow/subscribe wherever you listen to podcasts, including Apple Podcasts https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/murder-on-the-couch/id1684487066?i=1000611379631 or Spotify https://open.spotify.com/show/6GJQeJxx4elDlcaW21JsvU?si=675abf672a7941dd

Find all the latest links to podcasts, courses, Tony's newsletter, and more at https://linktr.ee/virtualcouch

And follow Tony on the Virtual Couch YouTube channel for a sneak preview of his upcoming podcast "Murder on the Couch," where True Crime meets therapy, co-hosted with his daughter Sydney. You can watch a pre-release clip here https://youtu.be/-RkRq8SrQy0

Subscribe to Tony's latest podcast, "Waking Up to Narcissism Q&A - Premium Podcast," on the Apple Podcast App. 

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/waking-up-to-narcissism-q-a/id1667287384

Go to http://tonyoverbay.com/workshop to sign up for Tony's "Magnetize Your Marriage" virtual workshop. The cost is only $19, and you'll learn the top 3 things you can do NOW to create a Magnetic Marriage. 

You can learn more about Tony's pornography recovery program, The Path Back, by visiting http://pathbackrecovery.com And visit http://tonyoverbay.com and sign up to receive updates on upcoming programs and podcasts.

Tony mentioned a product that he used to take out all of the "uh's" and "um's" that, in his words, "must be created by wizards and magic!" because it's that good! To learn more about Descript, click here https://descript.com?lmref=bSWcEQ

Tony goes on a quick tangent between parts 1 and 2 of exploring the five types of narcissists to look into the antagonistic attachment style of the narcissistic person. An “antagonist,” from purely a biological, scientific point of view, is a relationship in which one organism benefits at the expense of another. People in narcissistic or emotionally immature relationships can often identify with the concept of playing the role of the organism that provides the benefit to another while losing themselves in the process. Tony references an article by Julie Hall, author of The Narcissist in Your Life https://amzn.to/3LCCyH2, and creator of The Narcissist Family Files https://narcissistfamilyfiles.com/, Understanding the Narcissists Antagonistic Attachment Style

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-narcissist-in-your-life/202107/understanding-the-narcissists-antagonistic-attachment-style

Subscribe and follow Tony and his daughter Sydney's new "True Crime Meets Therapy" podcast "Murder on the Couch," https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/murder-on-the-couch/id1684487066

Find all the latest links to podcasts, courses, Tony's newsletter, and more at https://linktr.ee/virtualcouch

And follow Tony on the Virtual Couch YouTube channel for a sneak preview of his upcoming podcast "Murder on the Couch," where True Crime meets therapy, co-hosted with his daughter Sydney. You can watch a pre-release clip here https://youtu.be/-RkRq8SrQy0

Subscribe to Tony's latest podcast, "Waking Up to Narcissism Q&A - Premium Podcast," on the Apple Podcast App. 

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/waking-up-to-narcissism-q-a/id1667287384

Go to http://tonyoverbay.com/workshop to sign up for Tony's "Magnetize Your Marriage" virtual workshop. The cost is only $19, and you'll learn the top 3 things you can do NOW to create a Magnetic Marriage. 

You can learn more about Tony's pornography recovery program, The Path Back, by visiting http://pathbackrecovery.com And visit http://tonyoverbay.com and sign up to receive updates on upcoming programs and podcasts.

Tony mentioned a product that he used to take out all of the "uh's" and "um's" that, in his words, "must be created by wizards and magic!" because it's that good! To learn more about Descript, click here https://descript.com?lmref=bSWcEQ

What is the best way to support somebody beginning to “wake up” to the narcissism or the emotional immaturity in their relationship but still willing to wait for a miracle to occur? And what if that “somebody” is a parent in a relationship with a step-parent that you’ve never really liked? And what that miracle would entail isn’t entirely clear either. Is it to change their narcissistic spouse or part the seas and provide them a safe passage to emotionally dry (safe) land? Tony reads a listener's question about ways to support a parent in an emotionally abusive relationship who has opened up to their adult children. Safety needs to be addressed, but what follows can go a long way toward creating an environment where the parent will feel like they have options if and when they get out of the relationship. Tony tackles the topics of sitting with discomfort and managing our own emotions, as well as the way to approach someone in an emotionally manipulative relationship in a way that will allow them their best opportunity to not only leave but recognize their worth in the process. 

Find all the latest links to podcasts, courses, Tony's newsletter, and more at https://linktr.ee/virtualcouch

And follow Tony on the Virtual Couch YouTube channel for a sneak preview of his upcoming podcast "Murder on the Couch," where True Crime meets therapy, co-hosted with his daughter Sydney. You can watch a pre-release clip here https://youtu.be/-RkRq8SrQy0

Subscribe to Tony's latest podcast, "Waking Up to Narcissism Q&A - Premium Podcast," on the Apple Podcast App. https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/waking-up-to-narcissism-q-a/id1667287384

Go to http://tonyoverbay.com/workshop to sign up for Tony's "Magnetize Your Marriage" virtual workshop. The cost is only $19, and you'll learn the top 3 things you can do NOW to create a Magnetic Marriage. 

You can learn more about Tony's pornography recovery program, The Path Back, by visiting http://pathbackrecovery.com And visit http://tonyoverbay.com and sign up to receive updates on upcoming programs and podcasts.

Tony mentioned a product that he used to take out all of the "uh's" and "um's" that, in his words, "must be created by wizards and magic!" because it's that good! To learn more about Descript, click here https://descript.com?lmref=bSWcEQ

WUTN 62 Transcript

Hey everybody. Welcome to episode 62 of Waking up to Narcissism. I am your host, Tony Overbay. I'm a licensed marriage and family therapist. Host of the Virtual Couch podcast and many podcasts to come. And I'm trying to make this really easy now. If you go to the show notes, wherever you listen to this podcast, there should be a link, a link tree that when you click on that, it will have all the information you need from the latest episodes of any of the podcasts that I am involved with as well as a way to sign up for my newsletter. And also a way to sign up for my marriage workshop. And then when my updated marriage course is out, that will all be there too. So please just sign up for the newsletter. That's probably the easiest thing to do. And I still want to hear all of your questions and your examples and your stories. And if you are a woman who is waking up to the narcissism or emotional immaturity in your relationships, whatever that may be, or if you're the man who is waking up to the narcissism in your relationships, I want to hear from you. 

We already have a thriving women's Facebook group and are putting together a men's group as well. And if you happen to be the person that's saying that, I think I am emotionally immature. That takes a lot of guts. And I want to hear from you too. And I want to help and put together a group that can address that population as well. So with that said, let's jump into today's, well, actually one more, one more thing. The release of the Waking up to Narcissism Question and Answer premium podcast, which is on apple podcasts, is going to happen this week. So just look for that. If you haven't already found it, you can find the Waking up to Narcissism Question and Answer premium edition trailer or zero episode, which is free. And then the paid subscription based episode will be out this week. And I've taken a couple of questions and answered those, and that will be a weekly subscription-based podcast where the proceeds will go to help people that need help that are in these emotionally immature narcissistic relationships. So let's get to today. It is a bit of a question actually, and then, but there's a lot of different things that we're going to add into this question. 

I was forwarded a question by somebody that I really admire, I trust. And so I was really grateful for their vulnerability. And they said that someone close to them had reached out to them and said, “Any advice for a son who is finally waking up to his mother's marriage to a narcissistic man who happens to be his stepdad?” So, this is not her first marriage. And this person, he says, has isolated and abused her for over 30 years, he says his mom finally opened up to her kids, but she is staying and admittedly waiting for, and this is in quotations, a “miracle”. So all the kids are adults and they have marriages of their own. And it has absolutely been breaking their hearts to watch her walk back into the lion's den over and over again. But it sounds like this is one of the first times that she's admitted that this is not a healthy relationship. But she has admitted that. And then willingly walked back into this lion's den. So the question was how do they support as she has asked when they want their mom back after all these years? They said they've watched her mask her life away. And now that they saw the mask come off, now they can't unsee it. And so let me first say, I drafted an outline of what I wanted to share. What I think could help this person. And then right before recording, I went back to the beginning. The outline. Ate half a sleeve of thin mint girl scout cookies. That's a random confession, but I'm just being honest. And then I jotted down a few additional notes about safety. So, let me start with a really quick, but I think it's a relevant story. 

A few years ago, I had a real brief window of opportunity to possibly look at hosting a call-in radio show, which yeah, I think those are still around and it would have been for mental health and I entertained the idea and eventually I honestly can't remember if the opportunity simply fizzled or if they never even got back to me. And what I think is kind of interesting, and I do want to bring this up, I think in my more emotionally immature days, when I was asked about this, I probably would have told you that, you know, I thought long and hard about it and I eventually turned it down and they came back begging and I still told them no. When in reality, I really think it just fizzled away. But the reason I mentioned this is that I spent a few months thinking through answers in my head if I had two to three minutes to answer a question that I really knew that I needed more information about. One of the funny things is when you first become a therapist and everybody knows that you are a therapist and they ask you for advice and questions and you, I want to say rather immaturely, provide that advice. And it comes in these little sound bites of two to three minutes. When in those situations, all people really want is validation. They want to know that what they're doing is the right thing to do. And so you often want to tell them what you think that they need to do based on what the latest thing you heard in classes or in your training. But then I feel like over time, you start to recognize, oh, that person just wants validation. They just want to be told that what they're doing is right. And if you even do say here's actually what my experience says, then you'll often hear, well yeah, but this is, you don't understand. So really people want validation. And that was one of the reasons why I felt like that would have been a challenge, even take this opportunity. 

But then I did start looking at even the situations that were coming into my office on a daily basis. And I would think, man, how would you handle this in two to three minutes? If you were trying to give somebody advice. And so this is where I feel like, you just need more information. And this is a perfect example of one where, when I first received this question, one where I would honestly, I would need to responsibly start by saying that you first need to tell your mom, if I'm talking to the guy, the seriousness of this situation or this relationship and tell them that they ideally, you would love it if they would contact the therapist as soon as possible. Somebody that specializes in personality disorders or high conflict couples communication. And then to make sure that they set up a safety plan because you and your mind, you're going to feel like you've watched enough datelines to know what can happen. And while I agree that that really would be the best angle and incredibly good angle to go, here's where I just started thinking to myself, but I also know that not everybody is a mental health professional. And most people are surprised when somebody finally does open up to them. And that is when there's typically a couple of responses. Unfortunately, so many people go immediately to Switzerland because they feel uncomfortable and they say, man, I hear you. But I'm sure you know what, he's probably going through a lot himself. So have you talked to him about it? Have you really just let him know that this is something that's frustrating to you? And so if that is something that the person finally opens up to somebody, and that's the response they get, then that's where a lot of times they'll feel like, oh yeah, no, I need to go talk to them about it because that took a lot of guts for her to open up to somebody. And so when met with the Switzerland friend, you can see now how difficult that is. But then the other side of that coin is that if you are opening up to somebody, if somebody opens up to you and all of a sudden you think, okay, finally, they finally said it. Okay. you gotta get out of that, then that can also feel overwhelming to this person. 

And so that's where I think when you look at it, the person receiving the information that they are going to feel a lot of emotions, they're going to feel anxiety, they're going to feel discomfort. And so if that is you hearing this confession from somebody that they are finally opening up to the fact that they are not happy in their relationship, or they feel like it might be in an emotionally abusive relationship. It's going to cause you a great deal of anxiety. And so make sure and check in with yourself. Okay, I got to sit with a little bit of this uncomfortable emotion and hear this person and listen to this person. So ideally you'd be prepared for this admission and you would express empathy, extreme empathy, and curiosity and compassion. Tell me more. What's that like, I am so proud of you. You're doing a really difficult thing, which gently, you know, while gently bringing awareness about the need for additional help and resources. So in that scenario, it's again, I'm so grateful and I am so proud of you and that takes a lot of guts. And man, let me just take you on my train of thought. It's hard because I really want to say, oh my gosh, go get your bags. Let's go. But I hear you and I'm just, hey, I want to be here for you. And I worry about your safety. I can't lie. I'm a human. And I care about you. And so, it's hard for me to hear this, but again, I know this is your journey, so I am so honored that you have opened up to me. 

And so then just because for the sake of what I think happens to most is evidence even by this very question. Because had the people whose mom finally opened up to them taken this route, they may have been writing, you know, later with a success story of, hey, I just thought your listeners might want to know kind of a message. So please keep in mind that professional resources and safety plans are real. They are helpful. And they are absolutely necessary, but I also want to recognize that I know that a lot of the times people get this information. And they have not heard a podcast like this, so they are a bit blindsided. So with that said, let's dig into what probably happens more often than not. So one of the things I see the most are the people that cut the mom off in this situation as a way to almost make a stand. I worked with an older woman who was involved in a romance scam. And that was bad enough in a story for another day, because honestly I can see a lot of similarities and what happened to her in her romance scam versus what happens to people in narcissistic relationships, from the extreme trauma bond of good. Oh, I just see the real him. And that's what I keep holding out for too. When he wants something he gets mean and nasty and he makes no sense. To which the woman in the scam or in the relationship says that they just need to calm him down so that she can see the version of him that she loves. And how does she calm him down when the romance scam, its money. It's literally buying gift cards, which is so crazy. And in the relationship with the narcissist it's compliance. Or it's the mom and the situation making herself small weathering the emotional storm to try to get back to peaceful waters. And then keep the peace as long as she can hoping that it will be the last time. The last outburst the last time where he'll be that hurt or mean or dismissive? But regarding this romance scam, what truly broke my heart was that her family essentially stopped talking to her until she stopped talking to the romance scammer. But that isolation, that shame that the lady felt from her family's treatment drove her even further into the virtual arms of the romance scammer. And I find that this is a similar situation that occurs in situations where a narcissist isolates or sequesters the mother in this situation. And then the entire reason that the narcissist slowly but surely cuts the wife's family out of the equation in this situation is twofold. One that is the air he breathes control. The narcissist is extremely emotionally immature. So the thought that his wife has her own opinions makes him uncomfortable, not curious. And the fact that she talks openly with family or friends makes him uncomfortable. What are they talking about? Hey, tell me. 

Or better yet, let me be there in the room, but don't tell him, let me be on the phone and let me be in the room and you put it on speaker phone and I'll be over here, mind my own business, but don't tell him, I mean, I'm just curious, I'm just curious what they're saying. Or let me see the texts that you send or even better yet, you know, I actually don't even like when you talk to them because you seem different, which translated means I begin to lose control over you. So if your adult children start talking about a vacation that they went on, then to the narcissist, he thinks, oh, okay. So now my wife thinks that I'm a bad husband because I don't take her to those places so that he may say out loud, I'm sure they can't even afford it. As a matter of fact, I know they can't afford it. Yeah, your son's in real estate, right? I mean, if you read about the horrible market's horrible. So if they are, honestly, if they're taking vacations with the market, like this. I guarantee you that they are leveraging everything for this. And as a matter of fact, he's probably going to ask you for money and I know how much you want to bail your kids out with money. The money that I worked so hard to make. And that drives me crazy. Like seriously. I'll bet if you had it your way, you would just give them my money. Here you go. Apparently my husband is just a bank. So, let me give away all this money. The wife in this situation would then find herself either apologizing or agreeing with him in order to calm down his anxiety. Now they did not share that dialogue in this question, but if you are someone in a narcissistic relationship, I would imagine that scenario just played out what seemed very real to you. 

And if you are fortunate enough to not have ever encountered a relationship like that, please know that I could pull these examples out for the next few hours right off the top of my head. Simply just thinking about the real example shared in my private women's Facebook group, or honestly, in sessions over the past few weeks. Or the letters that come in on a very regular basis. So back to the scenario. So I think we should step back too and take things from the angle of the mother. So let's take a second and talk about sitting with discomfort. The family members who are waking up to their mother's marriage are now mad. They're sad. They're frustrated. All types of feelings. I'm sure a lot of the feelings and some I'm sure that I could share if I wanted to check the explicit box before posting this episode. But I do believe that often we want to fix a situation immediately to ease our own feelings of discomfort and anxiety and anger and you name it. But helping somebody recognize and then change their relationship with a narcissist is, here comes a cliche, but it's a good one. It's not a sprint. It is not even a marathon. We are talking about an ultra marathon and as somebody who has completed a few dozen ultra marathons, including a handful of races over a hundred miles, let me tell you the long game is fascinating and it can wear you down. And you're going to feel like you hit a wall in your relationship, even with this person who is with the narcissist over and over, but you'll also find yourself getting your second and third and fourth wind. Because if you don't beat yourself up, and if you note that, okay, that happened, whatever the problem in the relationship is that happened, and you tried a certain way, maybe you tried to go big, maybe you tried to isolate your mom and get her to talk to you without him knowing. And then that didn't work well, but just know that that doesn't mean the race is over. So if you continue to show up whenever you can, even if it's just sending, hey, just thinking about you texts or intentionally just staying in contact as the narcissist will begin to isolate or sequester their spouse is a way to control the flow of information. 

So just know that you do not have to make every interaction, one to say, this way to the exit of the relationship, although you really will want to. An example that I like to share in this kind of situation is one of parenting a teenager. So in this scenario, your adult mother becomes a teenager. And I remember at one point, my wife and I came to a realization and thankfully being able to communicate with one of our teens in particular, what was that communication like with us? Because we felt like when we would say, hey champ. How was your day? That we would get back, we wouldn't really get back to the information. The answers are really short. So, let me kind of skip to the end of this example, we'll work backwards. We eventually learned that shortly after, how was your day champ? We would then pepper in a nice round of, did you do and fill in the blank? You know, did you finish your homework? Did you clean your room? Did you thank your grandma for the gift? Were you still gonna turn in those late assignments? So we learned again, thank goodness that the teenager has feelings and emotions as well. And that their own experience of us began to look like one where our initial curiosity, how was your day? It was just a warm up to what we really cared about. Did you do these things? So that was a way for us to ease our own anxiety by wanting our teen. To do things so that we felt better. So I believe that the mother in this situation is maybe experiencing a similar thing. If every time we talk to this, the mom, if we are trying to pepper in our own thoughts and feelings of what we want her to do to make us feel better. So I, you know, I believe that the mother in this situation is aware of the unhealthy nature of her relationship with this second husband or third husband. Just as she may be aware of your disapproval of the husband. Just as she is also aware that when you express frustration to her, that you would love for her to leave or when you pull away from her saying that you just can't support her relationship with him, because that only causes her to feel like she is a value if she does what you need her to do just as she is living in a marriage where she feels like she has to do what he wants her to do as well, that that's the only place that she has value as well. So this clearly won't be the case in every situation, but I have been fortunate enough to meet with the women or the men who are the mom and this story on occasion. And they so often want a safe place to talk. Or to laugh or to not feel controlled. And not have to manage other people's emotions. 

So when I say that it's a long game, I feel like so often, step one, after somebody even slightly mentions the distress in their relationship. Sure. You're a human being. You first want to rescue them. And thank them for finally reaching out admitting that, you know, we've all known this for years and thank you. And I assume you have a backpack, then you're ready to go now. Right? But oh no, then they feel like perhaps they shouldn't have said anything because that causes them a tremendous amount of anxiety for you wanting them to do more right now. No, it took a tremendous amount of courage for them to finally get to the point where they could even say that something might be bad in their marriage. So I would encourage you to maybe take a step back, look at it that way. You know, as a therapist, let's say I've been working with this woman and it has taken a long time for me to get to the point where I can, I can bend. I was gonna say convince or better, I guess, better stated, encourage this woman to finally identify safe people that she could open up to. And then what would that situation look like and what would she even say? How would she open up to this person? And then when they finally opened up, then she's already overthinking the response. That's going to happen to her adult children. So it takes a lot of work to encourage this woman to open up. And then even again, if it's ever so slightly to somebody in the family and they may be so anxious to do so. 

That they simply just need you to say thank you so much again, I can only imagine how hard that was and I'm proud of you. And I want you to know that I am a safe place for you. And while I want to go say, grab a bag and leave right now. And here's where I love a little humor, maybe asking her, I mean, if that is what you're saying, then we can do that. But I'm just grateful that you opened up and you shared that with me. You know, is there anything I can do to support you right now? How would you like for me to show up for you? I really believe that to be heard is to be healed. And when someone offers you this gift of vulnerability, know that it is perfectly normal for you to be hit with such a strong bout of the feelings that you will most likely want to rescue them immediately. But this is still their life, which they may not have felt in control of. So give them the gift of their own self-discovery, let them be the captains of their own ship, but be the very best, what are they called? It's not a first meet, is it assistant captain? That doesn't sound right. That you can be, and we're not talking about, I grew up with Gilligan from Gilligan's island, a horrible first assistant captain. No we're talking about I guess I should have thought that went through because I can't really pull a great first madder out of my back pocket. But now you have this amazing opportunity to stand beside them on this journey, help them interpret what they are seeing. What they want to do next, and then you get to be the one to help them. Work through the yeah, buts. Well, yeah, but I don't know where I could even go. Mom, we have an extra room. Yeah, but we'll take all of the money. Mom, we can go get a free consultation with an attorney. I'll go with you and they can put your mind at ease and we can come up with a safety plan so we can address as many of the variables as possible that could be addressed. 

It's interesting because I feel like if you see where we're going next, I remember when I was in grad school as a therapist and having one of my favorite professors, Darlene Davis, my sensei. I had her on my Virtual Couch podcast so long ago, she has an amazing story. Around dealing with chronic pain and making this incredible decision to in essence, just say, okay, this is my identity. Versus using that as a catalyst or a catapult to then do bigger things and better things for her. But Darlene did this exercise once where she basically rearranged the room with a lot of desks and chairs, all messed up in the middle. And then she stood at one end of the room and she had one of the budding young therapists on the other side and she said, okay go take a left and go over there and walk around that desk. And now step up over that desk and basically walk the person over to the other side of the room. And we didn't really know what was going on. She was amazing with these experiential exercises and she said, all right, how was it? What do you think? And remember the person just looked at her and said I was fine, I guess. And then she had another person get over on the other side of the room again. And she went over and stood beside them and said, where are we going? And the person said, I don't know. I guess the other side of the room, she said, okay, let's do it. And then he said, which way should I go? And then she said which way are you thinking, what do you think? And he said, I, well, I guess I could go this way. Okay. Well, what's that like for you? Well, I know I don't want to have to climb over this desk. What else do you want to do? And while I guess I could crawl under it. Okay. Well, you know what, what's that like for you? And it may sound. I don't know. I don't know how it may sound for you to hear that, but I felt like that exercise was pretty amazing because even when you start to become a therapist, I think you often feel like you are the person on the other side of the room. 

And you're saying, okay, go over there and do this and do that. And what happens is that person may make it across the room, but then they're there and you say, okay, you did it. Great job. And in essence, you feel validated that you are really good at guiding people across rooms, but that person now is across the room and they're thinking, I don't even know what to do now. And I don't even know how to get back across the room. So one of the most powerful things you can do is to be there by the side of that person that's opening up to you. And then saying, where do you want to go? And how can I support you? How can I show up for you? What can I do for you? So if somebody is saying that they are opening up to you for the first time, I think so often we want to say, okay, then here's what you do. You walk in the room, you reach up in the closet and you grab your suitcase and you put it down and you unzip it and you open it and you pack it. And if the person is even doing that, all of a sudden they're saying, okay, now what now? Okay. Oh, wait. No, he's going to freak out. I can't do this and now I feel bad. I even said anything to you. Because he's going to find out and I shouldn't have told you. And now I need to, I need to go back in and I need to isolate, and I need to make sure that he doesn't find out because if he does, then he's gonna get really mad. 

And so I think you can see that it really can be more beneficial to look at this as what an incredible opportunity to stand right beside somebody as they are going through this period in their life. And what an honor for you to be the person that they are opening up to. And so as you build that trust and as you express that empathy and you build that connection, then that person is going to feel safe enough where you can start to maybe offer your advice, or they're going to feel safe enough to start to say, what do you think I should do? 

And even then be careful because if you say, well, I think you should leave. Then sit back and get ready for the yeah, buts. Yeah, but I don't even know where to go. And just know that you as the person that is, that this person is coming to that if we can get to the habits, we're getting somewhere. We really are. But then if you can still stay in that, well tell me what you think. In that example of having somebody even talk to an attorney, is one that I think takes so long for somebody to go just talk to an attorney. And I'm talking about just going to do the free consultation and guess what? You can go to a lot of free consultations. It's not like they have a little database and everybody gets together in your area and says that this person already got the free consultation. No, I would recommend that you write down the questions and you get a free consultation. And then maybe after the first one you realized I had no idea what I was even asking or looking for. And then write down some questions and then go to another consultation. Because one of the narcissist or the emotionally immature person's greatest opportunities to control is controlling that flow of information. And I find it so fascinating when I have a couple in my office and things are starting to go the route of emotional immaturity. And we're looking at this might not be a viable marriage. That is the more we'll just go with the pathologically kind person, starts to find their voice and express it and have opinions, which again is the goal. That is what we are here to do in life is to discover who we are and what makes us tick. And if we are in relationships where that's encouraged, it's incredible because that person is also finding themselves. 

And we are two people that are now attacking the world. And we are just supporting each other and asking each other what your experience is like. And I'm sharing what my experience is like. And we're processing emotion in concert with another human being. But when that isn't happening, then what is happening is the control of this other person and so back to the scenario, if we're in my office and somebody is starting to say, okay, I don't know if this relationship is viable, then that's where I often hear them more emotionally immature person, whether it's the husband or the wife. I started to say, okay, well, good luck working on your own. Or I've always been the one that has the money. And nobody's going to want to marry somebody that has four kids or hey, you never finished school. So what's that going to look like? And so they will often express these sentiments, statements, put out these vibes are these emotions that are going to make this doom and gloom vibe just come right over into the office. And so knowledge, I think it's Schoolhouse Rock taught us this back in the eighties. Knowledge is power. And so there are opportunities to get answers for things. Whether it is the internet, whether it is a consultation with somebody, whether it is a support group. A therapist or whatever that looks like. 

I highly encourage you that if you are being told all of the answers by the person that you now are recognizing may not be the safest person, then that is one of those situations where the person is saying, oh no, no I know you can't trust me on a lot of other things. But you can trust me when I'm telling you about how scary things are going to be and what it's going to look like for you. If you leave. Oh, no, those don't go together. So finding out information is just an incredibly powerful thing for, I mean, information is there, it's available and you need to be the keeper of your own information. Not continually wanting someone else to tell you what you're supposed to think, feel or do. 

I guess in conclusion, wrapping this up today. How do you support that person? You be there. And you express how grateful you are that this person feels like they could even trust you with even a little bit of that story. That must be hard for them. If they got to this place where they felt like they could open up to you. And this is where if you do get an opportunity to ask the person or to be more curious with them, then I think one of the best things you can do is to start to explore, well, tell me what that miracle looks like. And then if you can just start having conversations around that, then I think that will be incredible. The therapy model. I love acceptance and commitment therapy. One of my favorite books by author, Russ Harris is called The Confidence Gap. And that sentiment alone is just so powerful. What The Confidence Gap book is saying is that we often feel like, well, when I am confident, then I will do the thing. So in this scenario, it's waiting for the miracle or it's, you know, when I finally have my confidence up, then I'll go. But ironically with The Confidence Gap, the acceptance and commitment therapy really teaches us that in order to get the confidence, we often have to do the thing. But then when we say I'm going to do the thing. So in this scenario, I'm going to start speaking my own voice. That might give us a little dopamine bump of that feels right. But then sit back and listen to the yeah buts you have. I don't even know what to say. Or you have, but what if he gets mad or, yeah, but yeah, but. And I think what is important to note here is that our brain desperately, especially in a time where we may feel like we are unsafe in our relationship. Our brain's going to feel like we have to have all those yeah, buts worked out. We have to have the answers and the solutions, and we need certainty because that is scary. 

And if we go back to the way the brain wants certainty is so adorable yet frustrating. Because we have this concept in our mind where we know what two plus two equals four feels like, ah, that feels, that feels certain. And now we want, we desperately want that same ah, feeling. With all the decisions that we make. So especially these complicated ones. And so those yeah, buts are there. And then our brain is saying, yeah, but I do, I need to have all these things addressed before I jump out into the great abyss. And that sounds really scary. And so it does become almost this balance between recognizing that I will yeah, but my brain. That don't get killed device in my brain. Until I want to say the proverbial cows come home, not even knowing what that really means, but I could yeah but all this uncertainty forever, but at some point, then I need to know that I have these people, these safe people that are there for me, that aren't going to continually tell me, this is what you need to do. And they're going to be there to hear my habits. And they're going to be some of those habits that they may be able to address the yeah, but financially, oh, we can work through that. And that's going to lead to a yeah, but what if that doesn't last? Or what if that isn't enough? So I just want to acknowledge the fact that that's going to be part of this process and the more that that person feels safe and being able to know that they were able to express that this relationship seems hard to somebody. And that person didn't then judge them, wanting them to immediately leave that very second while they may want them to, but they know that that isn't what that person has to do in order to still be cared about. That then that person, and I'm going back to the mom in the scenario that now what it feels like to be her. She has been on a journey, no doubt, a journey of awareness, a journey of starting to want more and starting to not acknowledge that she doesn't feel safe. So then she did open up very briefly and let her children know that this is really difficult but I'm gonna, I'm gonna hang in here and wait for the miracle. And if we can recognize that that's a miracle in itself that she was able to self confront, acknowledge, be vulnerable enough and turn to you even if you then have that feeling that you want to just send a SWAT team in there and rescue her right now. And if you had it all your way, you would in fact do that because you feel very confident that that would ultimately be what was best for her, but understanding that you don't know what it is like to be her. And there's a lot going on there of what that feels like to be her. So just revel in the fact that she opened up to you, and this is your opportunity to maintain that relationship. And it doesn't always have to be about here’s what you need to do. And here's a podcast that says you are really in danger. And here's an article.

Now, those are not going to be out of the question. I still want you to be, however you want to really feel like you show up authentically, but just know that being able to provide that safety for that person over time. It is going to allow them to then if, and when they are ready to say, I am done they are going to go to you and they know that you're not going to say. I told you so, or it's about time. That they know that you are going to say, what can I do to help? Tell me what this is like for you. How can I show up for you? Because that's how you've been showing up ever since they really opened up to you. So again, I'm just, I'm grateful for these questions and I feel like there's so many different principles that we can talk about when we just break down a question. I guess in essence, this would be then a plug for the Waking up to Narcissism Premium Question and Answer episode because on the free episodes, these, the ones that you're listening to now, we're going to, we're going to go in a lot of different directions and talk about a lot of the traits and characteristics of narcissism. And we're going to break down the definitions of, and we're going to do a lot of the stories of what people have been through. And over there, we're going to just specifically focus on the questions. Because I have more questions than I can answer in the next two or three years. So we'll get to those, but if you have questions and if you don't know where to turn and you don't feel like you can reach out to anybody and you are not in a position where you feel like you can embrace counseling or afford counseling, try to just find somebody safe that you can just start to talk to communicate with or shoot me an email contact@tonyoverbay.com. Let me know your questions and just know that again, you are on a journey and you're there. If you are listening to this, that means you've taken a lot of big steps along that path of self discovery or awakening. And the path is going to be bumpy at times. There's going to be some juts in the road, maybe some big boulders or rocks, but eventually it is going to lead to a place where you are going to feel like you get to be yourself. Because it is absolutely okay to have your own thoughts, feelings, emotions, opinions, and to not have them continually questioned or put down or not questioning your own reality because it turns out that the person who is designed to know the most about you, is you. So if you're in a relationship where somebody else is continually thinking that they know you better than you know yourself, then I worry that it's because they have created a version of you that they need to feel this control over. 

So then therefore they know that version of you that they've created better than you do, because that's not you. That's you showing up trying to manage somebody else's emotions and anxiety. Or buffer for other people and, and that is not you living your best, most authentic self. So let's get heading toward that direction and then we'll deal with all those habits around the way. So thanks for taking the time today and we will see you next week on Waking up to Narcissism

Tony discusses the differences between false memories and confabulation. He then reads a message from the "women in relationships with narcissistic 'fill in the blank'" Facebook group that leads to a breakdown of "Switzerland Friends," as well as how we deal with discomfort, as well as how "family systems theory" could provide an answer to the difficulty the "pathologically kind" person has in stepping out of their role in the various "families" they are in.

And follow Tony on the Virtual Couch YouTube channel for a sneak preview of his upcoming podcast "Murder on the Couch," where True Crime meets therapy, co-hosted with his daughter Sydney. You can watch a pre-release clip here https://youtu.be/-RkRq8SrQy0

Subscribe to Tony's latest podcast, "Waking Up to Narcissism Q&A - Premium Podcast," on the Apple Podcast App. https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/waking-up-to-narcissism-q-a/id1667287384

Go to http://tonyoverbay.com/workshop to sign up for Tony's "Magnetize Your Marriage" virtual workshop. The cost is only $19, and you'll learn the top 3 things you can do NOW to create a Magnetic Marriage. 

You can learn more about Tony's pornography recovery program, The Path Back, by visiting http://pathbackrecovery.com And visit http://tonyoverbay.com and sign up to receive updates on upcoming programs and podcasts.

Tony mentioned a product that he used to take out all of the "uh's" and "um's" that, in his words, "must be created by wizards and magic!" because it's that good! To learn more about Descript, click here https://descript.com?lmref=bSWcEQ

61 Transcript

Hey everybody. Welcome to episode 61 of Waking Up to Narcissism. I am your host, Tony Overbay. I'm a licensed marriage and family therapist, host of the Virtual Couch podcast, as well as the soon to be released Murder On the Couch, a true crime meets therapy podcast and Waking Up to Narcissism the Question and Answer premium podcast, and you'll find a link to all of those in the show notes of today's episode, or you can go to Tony Overbay underscore LMFT on Instagram. Or Tony Overbay licensed marriage and family therapist on Facebook. And you can find more information there, or just go to tonyoverbay.com and sign up for the newsletter. That really is coming soon. And there will be a lot of information in the newsletter. Let's get to today's, actually before we get to today's topic, I had a quick story that I wanted to talk about. And it has to do with something that I refer to often that I get questions about, because I think the genesis of the term confabulation is something that was many, many episodes ago. And I know a lot of people are, most people are not going back and starting at episode one. 

So when I talk about confabulated memory, I recognize that I'm taking a little bit of license with that as well, what confabulation is, if we just purely go with a definition and here I'm looking at the national library of medicine, “confabulation is a neuro psychiatric disorder where in a patient generates a false memory without the intention of deceit.” The patient believes this statement to be truthful. Hence the descriptive term, honest lying. The hypothesis is that the patient generates information as a compensatory mechanism to fill holes in one's memory. And you can see then how that, when we talk about that in the case of someone with narcissism or extreme, extreme, emotional immaturity, the confabulated memory comes from a place of it can't be what you think that I did, because that might mean that I did something wrong or I did something bad so they can fabricate a memory in real time and then just believe with every fiber of their being that that is what happened. And if you go all the way back to childhood and look at that concept of gaslighting as a childhood defense mechanism, then it can make sense that if I was going to get in trouble as a kid, that I could, I could literally get physically beat. I could get emotionally starved. Or anything like that. Then, as a child, you will do anything to avoid that. So I definitely do not want to get in trouble. So, therefore I didn't do it. And as a matter of fact, I can't just get away with, I didn't do it. I didn't do it. My brother did it or the dog did it. And then over time that just becomes the air that emotionally immature or narcissists believe. 

And so then it did not happen the way that you think that it happened. And it's believed with such veracity that then even trying to argue with somebody who has this confabulated memory, they now can absolutely validate the fact to themselves that you do not know what you're talking about. You must be crazy because it definitely didn't happen that way, because that would mean that I'm wrong and that I could have done something wrong. But if we, if we go a little bit, a softer example is if we're looking in the realm of just overall psychology is that when the person has these gaps in their memory, and maybe they're asked to remember described details of a past event. And rather than just saying, I'm not sure. I don't know. The person's mind does fill in missing details with confabulated memories of the event. And now let me add one more piece to the puzzle. There is often a question when you start talking about confabulation, that comes, that is, what is the difference between a false memory and confabulation? And I really appreciate this is where the nuance, the subtlety comes in, that memory errors are often looked at in a couple of categories. There's the air from omission. Or errors from commission. So emissions are forgetting errors and then commissions are in essence, false memories. So confabulation is a kind of commission error that occurs when somebody then fills in the gaps of their memory with stories. So that's what I think is pretty interesting. So with the narcissist or emotionally immature, you can see where that angle of, well, of course I know, and this is what happened. It's really hard for them to say, I don't know. Because if you are truly emotionally immature and narcissistic, then I feel like I have to weigh in and I'm probably right. So it probably happened this way. And so therefore I will congratulate this story or this narrative. 

So here's where I now want to enter the pathologically kind person who is still trying desperately to figure out, wait a minute. Am I the narcissist? Because I confabulate. I do. And so that must mean that I'm a narcissist. And this is where I feel like the concept of confabulation is often just associated with this intense negative, you know, from the medical definition. To then the clinical psychology definition. And then we start getting into the concepts around just forgetting something versus creating a narrative. And so then does everybody that fills in the gaps with what they think happened then? Are they therefore a narcissist or emotionally immature? And this is where I feel like no, this happens and it's one of the main things of why when I lay out my four pillars of a connected conversation that after assuming good intentions or knowing, there's a reason why somebody does what they do and says what they say, shows up the way they show up, that my pillar two is I can't say, are you kidding me? That didn't happen. That isn't the way it happened. I don't believe you, even if you believe that that is not what happened and you don't believe the person. This is where I feel like confabulation as just part of the human experience needs to be discussed more.

Here's the story. This is the lead in to tell you this story. Earlier in the week I had someone come in and well, before they came in, they shot me a text and said, I'm going to be five minutes late. And I thought, oh, okay. That's kind of funny. This person will send me that kind of a text from time to time. They're not always late. But then when they do, they typically arrive a couple of minutes before whatever time that they say that they will be. So if they say I'm going to be 10 minutes late, they're there in seven, five minutes late, they're there in three. And then I will say, hey, you got here early, late. And the person will let me know that they've sped or something like that and hilarity ensues, and then the session begins. So it's a normal situation where the person says, hey, I'm gonna be five minutes late. I say, no problem. See you when you get here. They show up and I'm just working on some things at my desk. And then I say, hey, you're a minute late because they got there six minutes after, so I was being hilarious. Of course. And then this person said, oh no, I'm actually four minutes early. And I said, no, you said five, you were gonna be five minutes late. They said, no, I'm gonna be 10 minutes late. And then we both went to the proof. We pulled out our phones and this person literally texted, hey, I'm going to be a few minutes late. And I said, see you when you get here. So right in that moment, I thought that was such a good, simple example of where confabulation can occur just to regular human beings on a normal basis where there isn't something just incredibly important at stake. Because if you would have put me in, having me take a polygraph at that moment, I knew I was convinced. I absolutely could see it in my head as if I had photographic memory, which I do not, that it said five. He said five minutes late. And then this person was also convinced. Absolutely. Without a doubt he said 10 minutes late. So I really feel like that's such a good example of how I have this narrative that was already sitting in my mind about this person when he texts that he's normally early. And so if he says five, it's going to be three. 

And so I believe that that plays a role in the concepts around confabulation. So if you're having a discussion with somebody, that's why I feel it's important if they said, no, you were, when we had that conversation, I remember very well, you were in the kitchen and because you were sitting by the table and then if you remember that, I really think we were in the living room and I was standing by the TV. That part of my four pillars, the reason why I say, okay, I don't, that's fine. If one of you remembers one way and the other remembers that the other way. Then okay, man, I appreciate that. So now let's get into more of the content of the conversation because I feel like so often now the argument goes off into the weeds and trying to prove that I am right. That we were in the kitchen and the other person saying, no, you're wrong. We were in the family room. And when somebody, typically this is where the more pathologically kind person is going to at some point say, you know what? It doesn't matter. And this person is going to stay on this until I finally agree. So then I say, no. Okay, fine. I'm probably wrong, yeah, we were probably in the kitchen, but just the mental calories spent on arguing a tit for tat back and forth fact that was most likely confabulated to begin with is where I feel like that is what can just zap the life out of somebody that's trying to stay present in a conversation. 

And then the person that just hung on to I am right. Then that person ends that conversation feeling like I am right. They know I was right. And once again, I had to just keep hammering them until they remembered that I am right. And I feel like that can just be so damaging and destructive in a relationship. So I just thought that was a really interesting experience. Just as simple as a text, five minutes late, 10 minutes late. And in reality it was a few minutes late, but I often get people that are still trying to convince themselves that they must be the narcissist, even though they're the ones that have now sought out the podcast, the YouTube videos, they've emailed and they're the ones that are just, they're the ones doing the work to try to figure out, what is going on in the relationship, which again, if that is who you are, and you're asking that question of, am I the narcissist? You are not. You are a human being who is experiencing some events that have caused you to go on a journey to try and figure out what is going on in this relationship and in me. And so what an opportunity to start down this journey and get to this ultimate destination of just awareness and understanding that you are okay. You are lovable, you are enough, you are figuring things out. You're willing to do the work. And so on. 

So let's get to the body of today's episode. We're going to go to the narcissistic women's Facebook group. Again, women who are in relationships with narcissistic fill in the blank whether it’s a spouse, a parent, an adult child, a boss, a coworker, an entity, a pet. That one kind of just came out. I've never really looked into the concepts around emotional immaturity or narcissism on a pet, but I guess a pet can be very anxious. Anyway, I do not want to go off on that tangent, so I'll change a few of the details just for the sake of confidentiality. And I will comment or I'll address some of the comments that people made to the post, which are just amazing. One of the things I find is so powerful, if you can find a group for whatever you may be struggling with or working through, when you can find a group of people that have been in similar situations, there's just definitely a, you don't know what you don't know component. And when people are just asking questions and offering suggestions, not saying, here's what you need to do, but here's what worked for me. It can just be incredibly empowering and it can really help people get out of their fight or flight part of their brain out of that amygdala hijack and really start looking at some alternative answers to maybe some of the things that they're dealing with. So I'll hit some of the answers too, because they're just, they're beautiful. They're brilliant. 

But the person had said that they're feeling crazy right now, they said they had a really tough week and they were talking with some friends who had been some of their closest friends and most trusted people. Especially since she had gone through the divorce with her narcissistic partner. And she said, she's tried to be careful not to share too much. She was worried that it would sound like she was bashing him because she's noticing more and more that these people are starting to become more of these Switzerland friends. And if you're not familiar, the Switzerland friend concept, someday I worry that I'm not going to be welcome into Switzerland, but Switzerland is an amazing place. And it has the vibe or the stereotype that there's neutrality there. And so a Switzerland friend would be one that is saying, hey, I really don't want to get in the middle of anything. And I'm sure you both played a role in this and there's good and bad in everyone. And while that is a very good answer, if you have been in this type of a relationship, that isn't the correct answer and so, this is where I know it can sound complicated if somebody is listening to this and they haven't experienced being in a relationship with someone who is emotionally immature, has these narcissistic traits and tendencies. 

And as a matter of fact, I found an article on goodpsychology.net. And it's an article about becoming a Switzerland friend when your friends divorce. And it is fascinating because if you read it from the lens of, hey, there's two sides to every story and you want to be there for both people and don't judge and don't diminish either friend's pain and don't act as the go-between and keep your agenda out of it. And don't trash the ex’s. And don't gossip and don't compare their new partners. It is all solid advice. But what I often say is there's an asterisk at some point. That says, except for personality disorders or emotional immaturity, narcissistic traits and tendencies. Because we're playing by a whole new set of rules that unfortunately only the people that have played that game know what the rules are. And it's really difficult to even get to the point where you have an awareness that there are different rules. So a Switzerland friend, I want you to know, is a very good thing in a lot of situations, but in this situation, it can feel like the person who gets out of this relationship with an emotionally immature person or a narcissist has been someone that their own thoughts, feelings, and emotions have been squelched and put down for the entire most, if not the entire relationship. So now when they are trying to open up to someone and that person is saying, yeah, but it feels like trauma, the complex post-traumatic stress disorder, the relationship trauma where once again, all of a sudden your body keeps the score. And that visceral, that gut reaction is going to just fire up and you are not going to feel very safe. 

So she's talking about, she's noticing that these friends are becoming more and more Switzerland friends, but she said that she just had such an incredible experience that she wanted to share, and it was having to interact with this narcissistic ex partner. And, just being, in essence, forced to be around this person for a few days. And so she wanted to just share the things that are really interesting that she's noticed and that can be a real time for self-reflection. Because when you do find yourself outside of that unhealthy relationship and you can calm down your fight or flight response, then you can start to look at things with more curiosity and you can see how things were when you were in the context of where you were before. So you can, it's almost as if you're looking in on yourself and now you recognize, oh man, that's when I would try to manage my own anxiety by being a people pleaser or that's where, if I was trying to figure out the right thing to say to keep him calm. And so that can be a really interesting thing when you can step away from it enough to see that. 

So she said I wanted to share these things, I really did. And so I started to tell a little bit, I didn't want to bash him, but she said it ended up being an incredibly, very invalidating and very validating of him and his situation and feelings. And I appreciate this. She said, I noticed at first that it didn't seem to affect me as if now I was immune and I could see it as a popcorn moment, which is one of those situations where I'm just sitting back and I'm eating popcorn. I'm watching the show, I'm watching the show of, oh, they have been bamboozled by this person and now they too are buying into that narrative. And isn't that adorable? Because I did that for 20 years. And so that makes sense. I can understand, but having a popcorn moment, but then the more that the conversation went on and on then it just started to not feel like so much of a popcorn moment, but we slip right back into that deeply rutted neural pathway of what is wrong with me? Maybe it is me. Maybe I am the problem. She said she just started to feel crazier than ever. She said he left me, he cheated on me still. He is being validated by everyone. He talks to even her friends and her family. So she started saying, I start feeling like there must be something wrong with me for not seeing myself in this. And she said, if everybody thinks he's fine and I am crazy, then that must mean that I am having very irrational reactions. Right? And then she said, then I thought, man, I am so glad that I'm seeing an amazing therapist tomorrow, but then she said, but then I even noticed that being broken because I kept thinking, well, my therapist, she's paid to validate me. It's her job. So I'm sure she actually thinks I'm acting crazy too. And it's been just total crazy-making. So she said I've gone deep into this feeling of not being in touch with reality. And I feel now, like I'm starting to lose it again completely. And she said, any advice on how to get out of this state?

And I just wanted to address that. And I want to start with a concept that I did a Virtual Couch episode a week or two ago. And I just went off on a little bit of a tangent, an intentional tangent, around managing our emotions, managing our anxiety. Especially if once you become aware, this is one of these concepts that I just love, because when you become aware of this, what we're going to talk about next, you can't unsee it. So, what that looks like is how often do you feel, let's say that you are talking, let's just go with an easy one. Let's say you're talking with a teenager, I will say one of my teenage daughters and one of my teenage daughters is really anxious and upset and she doesn't feel like her friends are listening to her. And if I say, first of all, one of the worst things I can do is say, well, it's not that big of a deal. Or, you know, well, I'm sure that they have some problems that they're working through too, then that is going to feel completely invalidating. So in my four pillars of a connected conversation, pillar one, I'm assuming good intentions that my daughter is expressing herself the way she is, or there's a reason why, because she may already be in that amygdala hijack. So pillar one is, I'm assuming those good intentions are there's a reason why she's saying what she's saying. Which leads to pillar two where if I'm telling you it's not a big deal, or just look at it this way, that is an indirect way of saying, hey, you're wrong. Your feelings and your emotions, they're wrong. 

And so I need you to think in a different way. And here's where I want to jump into even more about today's topic. So part of why we like to tell people what to do or why we like to tell people that they're wrong, or why we like to tell people that you just need to look at it a different way, I believe if I am being selfish, self confronting, that that really is about me and my anxiety, my emotions. If my daughter is having a really difficult time and she's being emotionally expressive and she is just crying and sobbing and becoming inconsolable. That makes me feel uncomfortable. So what do I do with that discomfort? Then I want to tell her to calm down. I want to tell her it's not a big deal. I want to tell her, hey, they probably have a different side to this. So all of a sudden I've taken her pain and her emotions, what she's feeling, her reality, her experience. She knows those people better than I do, but I just made it about me. But without even really realizing that. Because I don't like the discomfort of seeing someone I care about upset. So I want to calm her anxiety down. I want to tell her to not worry about it as a way to calm my own feelings down. 

And I think that is such a fascinating thing that when you, again, when you see that and learn that. That it just becomes prevalent. And you see that in so many different areas. I've got someone right now that I'm talking to that is having a struggle with their boss. And when they are talking with their boss, their boss doesn't want to take the time to listen to this person that I'm working with. And that can sound like, oh, it's just the way that businesses work. And they operate. But as we've broken down a little bit more of the game film of this person's workplace and the qualifications of their boss, it's pretty clear that their boss is there as more of a figurehead. And so this person knows the person I'm working with. They know what they're talking about, and when they try to express that to their boss, I believe their boss takes that as you're telling me I'm wrong and you're telling me that I don't know what I'm talking about. And quite frankly, I think the boss may not necessarily know exactly what they're talking about. So then that causes them anxiety. And instead of then saying, oh man, I don't know. I don't know. I don't know enough about this situation at work to yes, I would love your input. They feel like, oh my gosh, I'm the boss. And if I don't know, then I may get fired or that my boss, my boss might get upset with me. So it was a way to manage my anxiety. I am going to tell that person that is coming in and that they seem frustrated with me that I don't have time to talk with them, or I might even send them to do some busy work because that's a way to manage my own anxiety. 

So I just think that's such a fascinating concept. And when I look back at the concepts around Switzerland friends, you know, I feel like, of course there's things that are on the spectrum, or I don't know what everyone is going through, but I feel like so often a Switzerland friend, what they truly are experiencing is they’re having you come to them and explain things about their ex partner that you weren't aware of. And so I believe that there are certain times where the Switzerland friend is sitting there and now all of a sudden they're uncomfortable because they're starting to even realize, and maybe it's at a subconscious level, I had no idea. And if I had no idea that means if I would have had an idea, then I could have helped, helped my friend more. I could help them early on. So I feel like often even the Switzerland friend concept is just a way for that person, this Switzerland friend to say, hey, but it's probably not as bad as you think, or I think he's probably hurting too. But if we're being really honest, speaking to the Switzerland friends is just a way, even if it doesn't feel like this is what I'm doing consciously, could there be a chance that that's a way to manage your own anxiety? Because if you have to sit there in the trenches with your friend and say, oh my gosh, I had no idea, then all of a sudden now, you know, that person is going to feel heard and understood and I'm going to have to sit with some discomfort. And I think at the core of when we want to get rid of our own discomfort, our own anxiety, our own emotions and feelings, that's when we start telling others how they need to feel or think or what the situation probably was. 

That is really a place where it's, because I don't like sitting with discomfort. And if I look in the world, I do work a lot with addiction. And I really feel like at the core of addiction are people that feel discomfort. And they want to alleviate that discomfort by turning to unhealthy coping mechanisms, whether it's pornography or gambling or alcohol or their phones, or you name it. That I just feel as a people, we don't do a good enough job. That sounds really judgmental. I feel like we can do a better job. That's reframed better. I think we can do a better job at learning how to sit with discomfort. Learning how to sit with uncomfortable emotions. And that is where the concepts around things like mindfulness come in. Can I sit and can I just acknowledge that I am noticing that I am feeling anxious, that I am noticing that I am feeling, I'm feeling sad for my friend. And so instead of me needing to alleviate my sadness or get rid of my anxiety by telling them that, hey, he's sad too. Or by saying you, you probably don't even know what he's going through or yeah, I'm sure that you played a role in this as well. That am I really saying that because it's coming from a place of, I don't want to sit with discomfort and at what layer, what level is that? That I don't want to sit with that discomfort. Is it because I don't know how to help this person, this friend of mine. Is it because I may actually be in a relationship that I don't feel is necessarily the best as well? On that note, I was talking with someone just a couple of days ago, not in a therapeutic setting, but I thought this was really fascinating. This person is starting to really figure out what they want to do with their life. And they're trying a lot of different things. And a friend of theirs had approached them and said, man, what's it like to really not feel like you're doing a lot with your life? And it really crushed this person that I was talking to. 

And it really did break my heart because there was no curiosity. There was no, hey, what are you up to? What are you up to in your life? This person that had projected this, that was, I believe most likely already in a career or a situation or a relationship that they didn't really want to be in. But as a way for them to feel better about it, they felt like, okay, I can alleviate my pain or my discomfort by in essence, projecting this onto someone else. And if I can make them feel bad, it puts me in this one-up position. And I say all this stuff that so much of it happens at this subconscious level. And it's because I really feel like so many people aren't really willing to do that work, that self confrontation. Or the mindfulness practice or an ability to sit with that uncomfortable feeling or emotion and acknowledge it. And even thank my body for the feelings and the emotions I'm feeling. And this is because, you know, when we're young, it's so easy. Even the very best intention parent to tell a kid to, hey, don't worry about it, it's not a big deal, that's probably not what they meant. And so even when we mean that well, even in that parenting situation like that we may even say to ourselves, no I'm doing that because I really, I want to let them know that sometimes they don't need to worry about things, but what I'm saying is I'm telling them, hey, don't worry about your own feelings or emotions. And in essence, I don't really want to sit with this uncomfortable feeling of you expressing your emotions with me. How often do parents say things like, hey, you know, don't cry, buddy. Don't cry. It's not a big deal. It's okay. Everything's gonna be okay. And so we're just telling somebody, hey, get rid of those emotions as quick as you can, because I'm feeling really uncomfortable and you might embarrass me cause we're out in public. Nobody likes a kid crying at Chuck E Cheese. Although really there's like tons of kids crying at Chuck E Cheese because those giant animatronic mice. 

But anyway. But I really want to help people learn to sit with that discomfort. And notice where that's at in my body. And even be able to say, hey, I appreciate my body giving me these emotions because my emotions are there for a reason. A lot of times, you know, anxiety, there's a warning. Or anger is there as a way to make sure that we're not being tread upon or that there's not injustice. And so those feelings, those emotions really do need to be felt and heard and understood. And so even a Switzerland friend getting back to that can often just be someone that is an essence communicating, hey, I don't like feeling uncomfortable and having to take a side, then I worry that somebody else is going to find out. And then they're going to tell me, I can't believe you took a side. When in reality, if you know that your friend has gone through a lot, and you've been able to hear her and listen to her and you know that spouse and you've witnessed that behavior as well. That it really is okay to be yourself, to be true to yourself. And be able to express to your friend that man, I hear you. And I see you and I'm here for you. And I can't believe, like, tell me more. What is that like? What are those things that you're observing? And what's that like for you? That must be crazy. It was, I don't even have to express my opinion. Because so often that expression of opinion. I want somebody to come from a confident place. And express their opinion. But not if it's only about alleviating their anxiety. 

So I want to move on to another. And this is, these are today, what I'm talking about, in this article, this expert says this. I really feel like those concepts around alleviating anxiety, not sitting with discomfort or things that I feel confident of from the years of just helping people and spending time in the chair, getting the reps in, so to speak. But on that same note, there's another concept that I think is really interesting to explore. And someone in the group had responded and they were talking about doing some IFS or internal family systems work. And internal family systems is a really fascinating type of therapy. That I will, I would love to know more about, and an internal family system, it basically is taking a look at your whole person. Your personality is, there's almost these multiple sub personalities or families within each person's mental system. And in my recovery program, the path back, my online pornography recovery program. There's actually a module that I do in there where we address, we personify the sub personality. And the belief, just a real general overview of internal family systems. It really is fascinating that there were parts of your life where there had been trauma or abuse, that sort of thing. And then you almost break off this exiled emotion and then you have a protector there as well. And I think one of the easiest ways to the, one of the examples, I remember hearing at a training I went to once and again, I don't know enough about internal family systems and I would love to, because I think it sounds just fascinating. 

But someone had talked about being, in essence, perfectionist and they had a, I didn't even realize you could get above a 4.0 in school and they had a four point whatever, 5, 6, 7. And particularly they were incredibly intelligent in math and those stem subjects. And when we were talking about it, this person had identified that their father had told him that he thought that she was dumb was the word he used and stupid. And these words when she was little, a lot. And so that just crushed her but the way to survive is through her internal family system breaking off this exiled emotion of just sadness and grief and pain and fear. And there was a protector, there was a protector there. This person out of the sub personality is a protector that then was going to do anything within its power to never to make sure that we never were called stupid again. So I will work harder. I will do better. I will become the very best and smartest. Because that hurts so bad to be called stupid or dumb by a parent when this person was young. So the internal family systems model talks about these sub-personalities that have developed as protectors for these exiled emotions. So one of the theories that I am working with is you've got internal family systems and then you've got family systems theory. And so with family systems theory, that is, in essence, talking about, and I think this is a, I think you'll maybe see where I'm going to go with this too. It is family systems theory, I believe applies to friendships and entire family organizations, whether it's your nuclear family, mom, dad, and the kids, or a blended family, or if it's, even if you're just, your work family. But family systems theory, it's a theory of human behavior that defines the family unit as a complex social system. Where the members interact and influence each other's behavior. And so I really believe that when you look at things like Switzerland friends, I think that again, we were dealing with the discomfort and people managing their emotions and anxiety through other people. 

But then I also feel like if you're looking at the family systems theory and you look at your friendships as a family system, what role do you typically find yourself in? And I find that so many of the people that are pathologically kind people have these relationships with the emotionally immature narcissistic people in their lives. That they are often that scapegoat or there's a phrase that's been going around the world of things like Tik Tok of trauma dump, you know, trauma dumpster, or somebody that you are the person that people go to and dump their trauma because you'll listen and you're kind, and you'll say all the nice things. But then when it comes time for you to express yourself, then those people don't want to hear it. Why? It gives them anxiety. Because that's not the role that they play. They play that role where they say things to you. And you thank them for it. And you tell them they're handling it very well and you tell them they're amazing and wonderful, but now all of a sudden, if they are going through something, then those people that were the deliverers of the trauma in that family system, that was their role. So when somebody steps out of the family role that they have in this family systems theory, then it disrupts the entire family system. And this is where I believe that most of the people that are interacting in a lot of these family systems would be deemed a bit emotionally immature. 

So if all of a sudden, one of you is waking up to this emotional immaturity or narcissism in the family system or in a relationship that is within the family system and you start to speak your mind, then you are disrupting that whole complex social system and other people will now react to get you back in alignment with the role that you play. Because if you are not there to continue to take their trauma or tell them that they're okay. Then they all the sudden feel discomfort. They feel uncomfortable. And so in that scenario, they're going to say things like, well, I'm sure that you played a role in that too. And that will put you right back into that same role that you play in the family. There's these different concepts. And the family systems theory is just looking at the families, this whole complex, single system where every member's behavior impacts another member and you start dealing with in the world of family systems, theory, things like boundaries, equilibrium are things bi-directional, are they reciprocal? And then what are the patterns and what are the roles that people play and the functions. So, just a little bit more. And I think that I just wanted to kind of express this or get a little bit of this out there today, just to recognize that so often why we start to feel crazy when we get out of these emotionally immature relationships is number one, now all of a sudden it really has. It has disrupted the apple cart, so to speak, the family system. 

And so there will be people, especially the emotionally immature person, the partner that's part of what the whole popcorn moment scenario is. They need to get you back in enmeshment and alignment so they can have a fix, they can have their drug of choice. And if not, then that's why they continue to push more and more buttons as you try to step away from this relationship. That the more you find your voice. And again, this is why I'd love to go so big on it isn't just finding my voice. It's starting to recognize I am a human being that has feelings and emotions. And those are absolutely 100% okay to have and express. And that if I express them and someone else gets angry or tells me that, I shouldn't say that. Or look at how that makes me feel. That is them feeling uncomfortable because you have an opinion and a behavior and a thought. And an emotion that is something that they do not want to deal with. And that's where you start to look at the selfishness of control. And somebody's trying to control someone else's opinion, thought, or emotion. That is selfish because it is saying the person that is trying to do the controlling is saying, I don't like how you are acting. It makes me uncomfortable. So please stop it. When in reality, the answer needs to be, hey, tell me what's going on. I'm noticing you seem frustrated, I'm noticing, and that's where we get into all these other things. I love talking about so much that let's tap into what matters to you. You know, you go through life and you start to go through different experiences. And now of course, you're going to have different opinions. You're two human beings that have 3 billion neurons that are just, you know, you're walking around this human suit that's interacting to things, you know, for the first time in that very moment of your life. Of course, you're going to have different thoughts, feelings, and experiences. And how cool is that? If you're two emotionally mature people, then you realize, wow, this is amazing. What do you think? I mean, this is, these are my thoughts. So anyway, there's so much there. 

But one of the things that can be a challenge, if you really look up the world of family systems theory, is that the couple of the criticisms there, one of the problems is that this kind of therapy family systems therapy, or it includes, failing to address these like neuro-biological things or mental health issues like personality disorders. So if you have severe emotional immaturity in the family system, then when you try to change up the family system, then that emotionally immature narcissistic person is going to lose their mind and trying to keep the family system intact because that's what they've set up to work for them to give them this again, this supply that they need for power and for validation. And that's the way that they feel like they are. That they matter is by having this control or power. So I'm going to leave it there. I'd promise that I would, well I mentioned that I would get to some of the comments that are in the group, but I realized this one is starting to go a little bit long and so I will wrap it up there and maybe we'll get a part two down the road or a bonus episode. 

But, even for the people that are in the group that commented on this post, the comments were amazing. And really there were people that were talking about doing everything from, some somatic work, to breath work, to being able to stay in the present moment. To be able to reach out to friends, to just be able to go back through the narrative and know that you've done a lot of work to get to that place that you are and then just being able to say, hey, check this out. Here's what I learned today. I learned that when I really want to open up about some situations, that seems pretty crazy with me interacting with my narcissistic ex. Then in those scenarios, I need to make sure that I'm not talking to a Switzerland friend and maybe that's where you need a support group or a good therapist that you can talk to because the more that you put yourself out there and if you're met with this invalidation or these yeah but it could have been, you know, what about him? That that isn't going to be those aren't the friendships that are going to be necessarily there, over the long haul. And this is where you have this opportunity now to trust your gut and to create friendships, not just with people that are filled with yes-men, but people that are willing to understand where you're coming from. And not just immediately need to quell their own anxiety by saying, well, it could have been this, or it could have been that, you know, it could be something that you're not aware of instead of starting with the, tell me more about that. So I really appreciate, as always, people that are here and listening, and I appreciate your feedback, your comments, please continue to send your stories and your questions. 

And I do, I read them. I see you. I hear you. If you're interested in joining a support group, I have the one with the women in the relationship with narcissistic fill in the blank entities. And I, after that last episode where I talked a lot about the men's experience, I've had more men reach out. So coming soon is going to be a men's group as well. And then I just, again, thank you for your support, the numbers continue to just grow and rise. And so I'm grateful that we're finding the people that are really looking to feel heard and understood. And it is, it is part of the process. How long does it take? It takes as long as it takes. And I know that's such a cheesy, horrible answer, but at some point it will change and things are gonna change for the better. And you are starting to understand and figure out that you are okay. And it's okay to have your own thoughts and feelings and emotions. You're not crazy at all. You've been made to think that, but you're not. And you're on that road to figuring that out. So send me your questions, I mean your stories, and we'll see you next time on Waking Up to Narcissism

Tony shares the 4th installment in the "Death By a Thousand Cuts" series. He gives examples of how being in a relationship with a narcissist or extremely emotionally immature person can feel like "death by a thousand cuts." All of the examples used in this episode come directly from his private women’s Facebook group for women in relationships with narcissistic or emotionally immature people in their lives, whether it is their spouse, parent, adult child, friend, boss, or religious institution. If you are interested in joining one of Tony’s groups for people in relationships with narcissists, please reach out to him through his website http://tonyoverbay.com

And follow Tony on the Virtual Couch YouTube channel to see a sneak preview of his upcoming podcast "Murder on the Couch," where True Crime meets therapy, co-hosted with his daughter Sydney. You can watch a pre-release clip here https://youtu.be/-RkRq8SrQy0

Subscribe to Tony's latest podcast, "Waking Up to Narcissism Q&A - Premium Podcast," on the Apple Podcast App. https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/waking-up-to-narcissism-q-a/id1667287384

Go to http://tonyoverbay.com/workshop to sign up for Tony's "Magnetize Your Marriage" virtual workshop. The cost is only $19, and you'll learn the top 3 things you can do NOW to create a Magnetic Marriage. 

You can learn more about Tony's pornography recovery program, The Path Back, by visiting http://pathbackrecovery.com And visit http://tonyoverbay.com and sign up to receive updates on upcoming programs and podcasts.

Tony mentioned a product that he used to take out all of the "uh's" and "um's" that, in his words, "must be created by wizards and magic!" because it's that good! To learn more about Descript, click here https://descript.com?lmref=bSWcEQ

59 Transcript

Hey, everybody. Welcome to Waking Up to Narcissism episode 59. I am your host, Tony Overbay. I'm a licensed marriage and family therapist and host of the Virtual Couch podcast. And soon, many other podcasts, Murder On the Couch, cue ominous music, is a podcast that I'm doing with my daughter Sydney, and she is a huge, true crime fan. And I am going to throw my therapist's spin on some cases. We've already got a few episodes recorded, and I just, I cannot wait for you to see this. My daughter Sydney is hilarious and adorable and the energy that I think we have back and forth is so much fun. And if you look in the show notes of today's episode, there's going to be a link to a YouTube clip of the podcast. So stay tuned. One is coming soon and Waking Up to Narcissism, I always feel like I want to say the musical, but that is not a thing. But Waking Up to Narcissism the premium question and answer trailer is up on apple podcast. And the subscription, the ability to subscribe is, I want to say, it's there now because these podcasts are evergreen. 

And hopefully that will be figured out by the time this one even makes it to the air. But I know that there've been people that have heard the trailer and then have contacted me and said, there's no way to subscribe. And bless your heart for wanting to subscribe. It will be a small monthly fee and the proceeds will go to a non-profit that is designed to help people with the things that they need that are in emotionally unhealthy relationships, whether it's therapy or legal costs. So there's a lot of fun and exciting, fun, the wrong word when I'm talking about people that are in these emotionally unhealthy relationships, I'm grateful to be able to do the work that I do and that podcast is only there because I think that my assistant Naomi and I have a hundred or so questions already that have come in about narcissism and emotional maturity. And so I really want to start answering those and then the ability to help fund this nonprofit is going to be incredible. Really just go to tonyoverbay.com and sign up for my newsletter. And that will, that will get you where you need to go, because we're going to have a lot of information there. 

And I can't help but say this, if you are somebody who is on TikToK, find Virtual Couch on TikToK. One of my daughters is putting out a lot of the content that I've created, and that has been fun to watch the reaction there. So, that is where I definitely feel like an old man but it is fun to see the feedback. So find Virtual Couch on TikToK or at Tony Overbay underscore LMFT on Instagram. So let's get to today's episode. We're going to talk about, this is the fourth installment of the death by a thousand cuts concept. And these are the episodes that I feel like resonate the most, where people start to realize that they are not crazy or all of these small things that happen in their relationships. And again, it can be the male or the female. I want to acknowledge that, and it can be in a relationship with the spouse or an adult, parent, or child or entity or boss, friends, you name it. If that is an emotionally unhealthy relationship, sometimes when you want to express why you don't want to continue in a relationship, people will say, well, why? And when you tell them things that just don't seem as significant as you feel that they should be in order for you to have space or set boundaries or leave a relationship, it can feel pretty maddening. So it is this concept of as if you were dying by a thousand cuts. And just for fun, I did go and look up where the death by a thousand cuts comes from and it was a, it appears, and here I say this, and I am going to tell you that I Googled it. 

So, I'm not really exactly sure how correct or accurate this is, but, it's on Wikipedia. And so that means it's correct. Right? Death by a thousand cuts is a form of torture and execution originating from Imperial China. And where people literally would be given tiny little cuts, and there's a belief that it could take hours and hours. You have to lose, I think 40% of your blood to eventually die. So that took a turn, but the concept is that these little hurts in our relationship, or little wounds that eventually become too much, the way these, these little events, these negative events slowly, but surely, in these unnoticed increments, then grow into these big gaping wounds that then you do feel like you have lost yourself. There has been a death of the relationship or a death of self. And so I reached out to my private women's Facebook group and said, hey, it's time for a fourth episode of death by a thousand cuts. And so the group has grown significantly. And so there were enough responses within about a 12 hour period that we could do episodes four, five, and six right now. And so I'm sure that this will be a continuing series. 

So let me just, I'm going to read a lot of the examples, everybody that is sharing the examples has given me permission, and then I'm sure that I will go off on some tangents and riffs about my thoughts on the reading between the lines of some of these examples. So one person just in essence started off best by saying, “This is the hard part of paper cuts or the one-offs don't seem so bad”. And she said, “I mentioned to somebody at her church that her daughter isn't living with or speaking to her dad, and then that person at church said, ‘well, has the dad done something egregious?’” And she said, “‘No, he hasn't.’ But that's the thing. Nobody gets that there can still be abuse that isn't physical or sexual.” She said, “Even sometimes I forget why she's mad at him because there really isn't one big thing.” All that being said, she did share some examples. So her teenage daughter, this is a talking in regard to her teenage daughter, her ex or the teenage daughter's father, he told her that he took down pictures of her in his house because he doesn't like being reminded of her. So right out of the gate, talk about emotional immaturity. And these narcissistic traits or tendencies all the way up to the narcissistic personality disorder. But that an adult human being can tell their teenage daughter that they are taking down all the pictures in the home, because he doesn't want to be reminded of her because she is not doing what he wants her to do and then assuming that father thinks that for some reason that is going to then cause the daughter, the teenage daughter, oh, I could just go on with this to then go, oh my gosh. I am not showing up the way that my dad would like for me to show up. It is on the father in that situation to recognize that my daughter does not feel safe or comfortable with me. So that is a me thing. So I need to go in with curiosity and empathy and patience and long suffering and kindness and charity and on and on and on, and then nurture and develop that relationship with that daughter. Here's the problem. If we are in that situation where that is happening, then I realized that train left that station a long time ago. 

So I want you to know the reason I like starting with this as an example is that this episode really is more for the person that is trying to make sense of the nonsense or who is trying to say, okay, but what was I not nice enough to, did I not tell my daughter that she needs to go and be with him more because that's no, that's not your job as the buffer. Because if anything, that is you being, you know, and I get it. Wanting to be protective because you don't want to see your daughter hurt, but then all that is setting up is that the narcissistic ex-husband in this scenario gets to continue to say, well, I don't have a relationship because you didn't tell her to come talk to me. And sometimes the pathologically kind person will think I haven't been, you know, so he's got a point and I want her to say, wait a minute. He just did it again. Now he can blame it on me. He takes no accountability. So other things that this particular person shared, she said, that her narcissistic ex told his brother. So the narcissistic ex's brother, not to support his daughter's tennis fundraiser because she's not living with him. So let's now get the entire family now to go against the teenage daughter. And what emotional immaturity that is. He also told her that he wasn't going to take her to a family party because she, the teenage daughter had set a boundary of meeting him and he wanted to meet alone to talk. And she said that she would go if a friend could come. So she did not feel safe. And so he said, okay, well then if you don't feel safe, then I will not let you bring a friend. And now you can't, in essence, you can't have the pony, you can't go to Disneyland. You can't go to the family party, so I will punish you. And then you will see, and then you'll come around and the, you will do things my way, which is going to be a theme of some of the things that we're talking about today. 

Okay for this next one, we're going to be talking about the body keeps the score or the complex post-traumatic stress disorder. And I'm so grateful this was someone that is new in the group. And so I think it took a lot for her to share. She said, “I would say my death by a thousand cuts would be how he has traumatized my nervous system. Not only does this come into play when I'm around him, but it is now also bled into my entire life. At home I'm so jumpy, even when there isn't an altercation. He has to know what I'm doing at all times.” She said, “Not only that I have to have an explanation ready to go when he questions, even the smallest of things, I feel that there are things that people in a normal relationship take for granted. When they really just don't even think twice about it.” And well, I'll read her entire and then I'll go back and make some comments. She said, “I get nervous when I get in the shower. When I pick up my phone, if I have a smile on my face that doesn't pertain to him. If I'm doing anything out of what he perceives is my normal routine. If I walk outside to take the trash out. If I take our baby on a walk around the block, if I have my headphones on, if I'm writing in my journal, there are so many things that I have to second guess before doing them. Anticipating his accusation based questions I find even away from home or when he's working, I still get jumpy about these things, partly because it has happened over and over and over, but also because even when I'm away from him, he's checking up on me. I could answer the phone as soon as he calls and be doing something as simple as watching TV, but it still warrants the questioning. ‘Are you sure that's what you're doing? Well, what else have you been doing? What have you been doing the last hour? Who'd you talk to today? And what were you talking about? What are your plans? What are you about to do? Why did you take a shower that early?’” She said, “It's amazing how this has become my life. And I didn't realize how draining it's been. His actions have transformed me into this person that he sees as acceptable doing as much as I can to avoid questioning. This usually involves keeping myself busy with chores and cleaning up, for example, because then I usually don't get all the other questions. I even feel the need to go into detail about exactly what I've cleaned or the errands I ran, because if not, then he doesn't believe that that's taken the time that it has.” She said, “I feel as if I'm doing something wrong. If my daily routine isn't circled around things that need to be done. The moment I take time for myself,” she said, “heaven forbid do nothing and relax, it's absolutely questioned.” She said, “It's just a very stressful state to be in.” And she said she doesn't mind me sharing. So the reason I appreciate this is I think that this is an extreme example of just feeling like she is walking on eggshells. 

But I feel like this covers most, most of the people that I work with to some point. And it's even just those, oh, who were you talking to? Now in a healthy relationship, that's an opportunity for connection. Who are you talking to? But you have to feel like it. I mean, I just, I just say here's who I was talking to. And here's the crazy story we talked about, or I just say I was talking to this person and then the emotionally healthy partner says, I don't know, anything fun to talk about there? And if you say no, not really. Okay. But the control is who are you talking to? Well, why, what were you talking about really? That you said that. I mean, I, I don't know why you would've said that. I don't say those things or I kind of feel like that's the wrong thing to tell that person and you start realizing, love or control? And in those scenarios, love is, well, you're going to do whatever you're going to do. And I love you and you are the person who you are, and I love you. Not, well why did you do that? And I I don't really like when you do that. Or I don't think you should have done that. That is control. And when that just starts to bleed into everything that this person feels that they feel so controlled. And if you were listening to that, and particularly looking at the thing where she says, I'm nervous when I get in the shower, I'm nervous, you know, or even at what time did I shower? I mean, I have people that if they, if they even take care of themselves for the day, then the narcissistic spouse says, oh, why are you, why'd you get dressed up? Who are you going to see? You know, and then if you say, no, nobody, I just thought I would do this. Then that's not being believed. It goes back to that nonviolent communication concept, where the person makes an observation and a judgment. 

So observation and judgment. If your spouse looks nice today, if your observation is well, they must be going to see somebody or they must be cheating on me, and now you have to defend yourself. Then that is a really difficult place to come from. Because at that point, that is what leads to somebody just not even wanting to take care of themselves because they don't want to have to deal with the potential questioning. Or they just feel like if they take care of themselves and now they're questioned about it, they just go flat. And then they feel as if they are now handing that narcissist the confirmation that they were looking for. Okay. Well, I guess if you're not, if you're not telling me where you're going, I'm sure you're doing something bad. So those, all of these, just, she said anticipating his accusation based questions. So anything, you know, what have you been up to? What have you been up to? It can be an amazing question when it is a bid for connection, but what have you been up to is a horrible question when it is one that is fishing for, well if you start talking, then I'm sure I can find something that I don't like that you've done. Then I can now take the one up position. I can put you in the one down position. And I can maintain my narcissistic supply. So that one really does break my heart. And when she talks about the end, she said, if I feel like I'm doing something wrong, if my daily routine isn't circled around things that have to be done, the moment I take time for myself or do nothing and relax, it's questioned. Because my number one rule in interacting with the emotionally mature narcissist in your life is raise your emotional baseline. And that is self care and self care is not selfish, and boy, she nails it though, because you need to relax, you need to be able to have downtime. You need to be able to meditate. You need to be able to do things that bring you peace and joy that are things that matter to you to be able to calm the central nervous system. And then to allow you to have that confidence so that you can show up in a way that you can deal with all of the things that are happening around you in life. Because if you are constantly just in this state of, I got to just keep doing, I got to keep doing, I'm going to be questioned, you can feel your own heart rate elevate and your anxiety spike, and your cortisol starts flooding through your brain you are in fight or flight mode. And it's quoted in The Body Keeps the Score, “the neurons that fire together, wire together”. So over time, what it feels like to be you is somebody that is just on high alert, ready to go into fight or flight at any moment. 

So it takes time to get out of that situation to be able to start to slowly but surely lower your heart rate. So you can raise your emotional baseline so you can show up in a way that will be the very best version of you. This one's short and sweet, but very fascinating. Someone said “He got so mad at me when I told him I was flying to visit my mom, he was upset that I spent the money on the flight. Then I told them that my mom bought the tickets. They flew off the handle because he said that he was the provider of the family. And now the mother's going to think that he can't provide. Then in the next breath, he said that well, as a matter of fact, you should have got a job to pay for the flight yourself if you want to do things like this, then you need to get a job.” She said, “Meanwhile, he literally made me go on a work trip with him that will cost us at least double, if not triple the cost of the flight to my mom's house, which by the way, my mom was willing to pay for.” She said he's a walking contradiction. This one, every one of these breaks my heart. That's why we have these. That's why we're having this episode today. Another person said, “How about this under death by a thousand cuts, but also in the world of betrayal trauma. She said, “When we were married, I was suspecting that he was having an affair, but could never prove it. He denied always anytime I brought it up. One day I found a poem written by him on his phone about a beautiful brunette. I asked him about this. And he quickly told me that I was the brunette. It's just that I dye my hair blonde and I had been for a long time.” So she said, “I believed him like every wife is supposed to do with their husbands. But after time, he continued to ask me, ‘Why don't you ever leave your hair its natural color?’” And I can say right now you can see that now he's trying to build that case that no, no, he really was her. So she said, “I can remember him calling me a brunette in front of our friends while winking at me. And that was something that he never did before.” And that's one of those concepts that I just, I cannot describe enough of when, when someone is not doing something naturally organically. That it's more obvious than they think. So if he has never called you, why aren't you a brunette? Oh, my little brunette over there, wink, wink in front of friends. And that has never happened until he was caught with the poem about the brunette. Even he doesn't realize, oh, that's, that's not the way this normally works. And this is where I talk about if you want to watch this stuff in action, just go on YouTube and find a channel that has interrogation videos. I watched another one this morning. I'm just mesmerized by them because you watch a person who thinks that they have created a narrative of how a quote normal person would have behaved in a situation. But now they're being interrogated by people that know exactly what to look for. And I feel like at times as a marriage therapist, you're almost like a marriage interrogator. And why I love my four pillars of a connected conversation as you are giving this framework in essence, so that you can see who doesn't know how to use a framework, who doesn't play in the sandbox, who weaponizes the tool. And who takes this lifeline, this evidence-based lifeline. And finally feels like they learned how to communicate. And now the couple is excited and they grow closer together versus the, when you are, you know, when somebody, all of a sudden tells you, they know exactly where they were seven months ago on a Tuesday night, because that's when they did the in the Terry Haitian videos, that's when they murdered someone. 

So then they say, if somebody says, hey, where were you on January 15th, you know, six months ago? And they say, I don't know, how about January 13th? Oh, the 13th. Oh yeah. I remember it was a Monday night. I was watching Monday night football, the Cards playing the Packers. A matter of fact, I remember having a thing of Fritos and bean dip somewhere around the third quarter, but at that point I remember I left the bean dip open cause I had to go to the bathroom and I worried, oh my gosh, will the bean dip get hard? And that would be bad, wait I can just stir it up. And so, and which no one does that has that, why, why did he remember that night? Oh, because he had murdered someone and so he'd rehearsed the narrative over and over. So I know that I went on a tangent there a little bit, but that is the, oh no, I always call you my little brunette and wink at you around our friends every single time since being caught, writing a poem about the affair partner, that's a brunette that I've lied about. So, of course she says it turns out the girl that he was cheating on with me was a brunette. And she said, I still react whenever I see a beautiful brunette or even the word, “brunette”. 

She said one day while we were married, she said I had a painting done of his hometown and a place in particular, in the hometown. She said we'd moved down to her hometown. And she said, I just thought I wanted to bring a piece of his hometown down to us. I was grateful that we were in my hometown. And I assume that that was maybe hard for him and he missed his hometown. So she said I had a giant painting completed. And I commissioned an artist and I was so excited to give it to him for his birthday. I gave it to him, the kids were there. And he looked and he said, “What is this? You actually think this looks nice? I hope you didn't pay much for this. It looks like a little kid painted it. Like where do you even find this artist?” She said, “I was devastated. I was so proud of this painting and this gift idea.” She said I still have the painting and I can't decide what to do with it. These comments he made on them went on for weeks and weeks and weeks. And this woman said in particular, feel free to share. She said I'll probably post more because I have so many of these examples now that I'm aware. I feel like this is one where, if you desire love and a connection with your spouse, this is where I really do feel like it is absolutely a good thing to take any gift and say, thank you. It really is. Because when somebody throws out really, you think this is good, this is crap. And I know people could argue, well, he's just being honest. No, he's being a jerk. I mean, that, that one. Again, what is the point of that? Even if you don't like it, then that's something that, that other person that you care about. That's their emotional bid. That, with that painting, is their heart. 

And so what a gift for somebody to hand me their heart and say, hey, I thought about you this much. Because then at that point, if I'm struggling with, I don't like it. Honestly, it's a me issue. And as you can see in this example, yeah, it's a big old him issue. Now, if he was emotionally mature, and he did say I so appreciate that. And if she, you know, she's catching the vibe and saying, I feel like there's a little something off. Oh, I mean, and I know I'm, I'm painting this amazing version of this story where there will be a pot of gold at the end. But, an emotionally healthy version would be okay. He still is so grateful and so much. And if she says, boy, you seem a little off and then they have an emotionally mature conversation, it might be because, he says, my hometown is not a place of happy memories. And that's why we moved to your hometown, but I'm so grateful that you thought of it that way. And because now, we have some good old self confrontation. We're having a shared experience, and now we can process emotion together with another human being. And how beautiful is that? So none of that is happening with the interaction that I just shared. Next, one woman just shared a lot of just the little bullet points, but I so appreciated this because these are some of the ones that came up in earlier episodes as well, that I continue to get emails about driving very very slow when I was late. Or even just if I made sure and said, we got to get somewhere on time. And she didn't write this, but I could add because I get this one on a regular basis, or of course, when he needs to get there, now here comes control. There's going to be anger and rudeness and loud voices. Because we will go or I will leave you. But if you want to go and you want to get there on time, then all of a sudden, now he is suddenly captivated by getting a toothpick and cleaning things out of the grout on a kitchen counter, which is a very real story that I heard a few years ago. 

This one. They all again, they break my heart, taunting me with grocery money, holding it out and pulling it back. Hiding my bank card if I left it out to teach me a lesson, that one hiding my “fill in the blank”, hiding my shoes, hiding my purse, hiding my coat, hiding my keys. And that one, I hear over and over again to teach me a lesson. So if anyone is more on the emotionally immature side and listening at this point, if somebody leaves something out, try this one, hey, you forgot your keys, and I am putting a dramatic pause in here. Because that is an opportunity for the other person to say, thank you. I really appreciate that. And then, or sometimes you might say, I think you forgot your keys and they may say, oh, I have another set. And then you say, oh, okay. And you leave together. It's an amazing experience. I sound like I'm being facetious and there's a little bit of that, but, if I have to teach my spouse a lesson, I am a jerk. This is plain and simple. If I see an opportunity where I can be of service and help to my spouse so that she will not feel less than, or feel dumb, what an opportunity, what a joy. She also shared refusing to be a boy scout dad until it was time for the Pinewood Derby when then he showed up looking like an involved dad. I can do episodes completely on, I don't know how many times I've had this conversation with people, and what's funny is I didn't grow up a scout. My son gave it a shot. And when it was Pinewood Derby time, I actually had post-traumatic stress disorder as a kid doing my own Pinewood Derby car and taking dead last. 

So at that moment, it was funny because I just thought how many of these things are happening at Pinewood Derby day? Are there the insecure dads like myself that don't know how to build things or are there the kids that all they want to do is win because their dad is going to get mad at them if they don't win, because I've processed plenty of those sessions as well. Or in walks dad of the year who, especially lately I've had a couple of examples of people that go and buy their Pinewood Derby car kit off of eBay or online, which, oh, if I would've had that opportunity when I was younger, but I digress. But those times, none of those are somebody showing up organically. Another woman said, how about the inability to resist interrupting with what he would have said or done when somebody is trying to concentrate or somebody is trying to study, or him coming in with stupid jokes or making noise, anything for attention. Now here is where I can go back to my waking up to narcissism, my own narcissism, my own emotional immaturity. That one resonates because if I can make a funny face or a goofy noise, or if I can tell somebody a funny joke when they are busy, I realized that is something that the emotionally immature does often, and that is something I have noticed myself still at times, wanting to all of a sudden remember. So I remember something from earlier in the day and I want to show someone a video or picture while they're doing something completely different. And so while I absolutely believe in spontaneity, there's a, I feel like there is now a difference between being spontaneous and then just saying, hey, we haven't had any attention on me and a little bit, so can we do that? Can I show you something or can I make a funny face? And then you'll like it. I'm watching, I’m really obsessed a little bit with the show Sister Wives. And there are multiple occasions where the husband, Cody, will just all of a sudden take center stage. And there's been, I think, one or two weddings where, you know, he makes sure and does that and at the last minute, and it's just one of those things where it's like, hey, nobody's looking at me. Look, I just did a thing. I know it's their wedding, but look at me. She said also a time that we met downtown, my car got towed because I misunderstood a parking sign and he just drove off and he left me just walking along the city that I was unfamiliar with that we had just moved to and eventually came back to me. And I would add in here and with the hopes that I had learned my lesson. Or chronically getting terse and grumpy on the kids' birthdays and sucking the oxygen out of the celebrations. This one becomes one of those that just becomes so consistent of the emotional immature or narcissist. And I appreciate that “sucking the oxygen out of celebrations”. And I think in one of the earlier episodes I talked about a woman who, even in every one of their births and then she'd had a few kids, there was an event and one of the times the guy missed the actual birth because Carl's Jr. I think had two sausage and egg biscuits for $5. So what are you going to do right? Or times where then just things were made about him. And it was almost as if subconsciously if there was something that was going to absolutely be about somebody else, she said you could count on that sabotage is going to occur. And it would, it would happen in all kinds of things, not having things ready to go for a party showing up late, leaving late, just, there were so many different things that were just so consistent on celebrations. 

Or she said we're giving the dead or indifferent effect on conversations to get me to be quiet or get to the point more quickly. And I feel like that's one that is so difficult for the narcissist or the emotionally immature, if it doesn't pertain to them or they don't feel like it matters, then it's hard for them to not show that on their face and they shut down. I remember having a conversation with someone at one point that I was fairly certain was narcissistic and I couldn't help myself, but I just mentioned, hey, you know, I feel like you're not really very interested and that's okay. I think I'll just, I'm going to take off. And then all of a sudden they said, no, no, I am. I am. And then they just looked directly at me. And then as I'm talking, they nodded their head about three times more than is normal. And then started saying. Oh, well, wow. Oh boy. Okay. And I thought, oh, that's actually not the way a real conversation occurs. So while I could appreciate the effort, it was just really interesting at that moment where they went from, I could tell that they had a flat affect, but then they wanted to pretend that they were very interested. Let's get through a couple more. Okay. This one. I think this one's really, really difficult. And I actually have had multiple conversations around this. So this, and thank you to this woman for expressing this. She said, “I had a breast augmentation surgery after my last baby turned one. My husband was fully supportive of it. But wanted me to go quite big.” She, and again, I feel like I just wanted to tell this woman, so far, I've had several of these conversations. She said, “I had saved money for it myself while working,” at her job while pregnant. She said, “I wanted to go a natural looking normal size just to feel like me again, my husband insisted on coming to the two pre op appointments and he was pushing for the much bigger sizes on me. The nurse practitioner kept reiterating that those sizes were way too big for my body size. So we finally agreed on a size, the day of surgery. I ended up telling the surgeon to go 15 CC smaller than what I told my husband prior.” And she said the 15 CCS is like, if you are somewhat a religious person, the sacrament cup that you drink water or the grape juice out of, she said, “I texted my husband just to let them know that the surgery went well. And the size that I ended up going with. His response was so cruel and hurtful saying that I was a deceitful liar. He can't believe that I would do that. And it's going to look awful and disgusting on me.” She said, “I then stayed at my mom's house that weekend to recover and he didn't text or call once. When I came back home after two days, he moved out of our bedroom and continued to call me a liar and tell me I had a botched boob job. And I wasted my money because they looked terrible and he continued to say that narrative for the next six months. He never once in the days or weeks following ever asked how I was feeling. The surgeon told me that there is literally no noticeable difference in 15 cc's bigger. So those are the things that just break my heart, any opportunity that the person has for control, because first of all, the answer is whatever size you would like. Period. So then for him going in to try to talk her into what she needed to do with her body, it just becomes beyond frustrating. And so then even if she decides, okay, I'm not going to go with that size, then nothing more for a husband than, okay. Thanks for letting me know. 

So I think that people hearing this, it won't necessarily just be about the breast augmentation surgery. It will be about coming home from the hospital after birth, you know, it can be, I've had an example of a guy who got an ACL surgery and his wife not showing up for him post-op. But it will be that concept of where, if that person, if the narcissist in the relationship has a medical procedure, the pathological kind person will do anything and everything they can to take care of that person. But then if the pathologically kind person is taken care of or has something go on, then that really is an inconvenience for the narcissist and they still have work to do they still have things to do and so what were you expecting and just that inconsistency or the consistency of the invalidation speaks volumes. Let's get to a couple more and then we'll wrap things up today. Another interesting antidote that someone shared to me, she said that on her wedding day, so given a little bit of context, she was talking about the wedding day being a difficult moment or being a difficult day as it would come up each year as the relationship continued to get worse. And then at one point when they had separated, now, this brings us up to where she's telling the story. She says another interesting anecdote is that on our wedding day, a year later, this was just this past year. She said, I tried to forget all about the day. She said I was also gray rocking and not giving him much attention at all those days. And for those who are unfamiliar with gray, rocking and gray rocking is one of  the many techniques that people use to protect themselves from abuse, I'm reading from medicalnewstoday.com. It involves becoming as uninteresting as possible to the abusive person. This may require a person to hide their feelings, avoid revealing personal information and minimizing contact. And sometimes people use the gray rock method when interacting with people they believe have narcissistic personality disorder or traits and tendencies. 

And according to medicalnewstoday, however, a relationship can be harmful regardless of whether a person has a personality disorder and whether the abuse is intentional. And they've been going to say it's unclear whether the gray rock method reliably works, that may have risks as long as the person is in contact with the perpetrator. And I would say that the gray rock method is similar to my popcorn moments. You're just sitting back and watching the show. But she said that she had been gray rocking him and not giving me much attention. She said he knew I was feeling bad about some other things. I believe they might've had some co-parenting challenges or issues. So she said, “At one point he called me,” and again, this was on the day, the wedding day, but while they've been separated, she said, “I didn't respond.” And then he texted me an emoji flower and she said, I didn't respond. A few days later, we were talking and he blamed me for being distant and neglectful. And she said it turned out the flower emoji was sent to me on our wedding day. And I hadn't even registered because I wouldn't even have imagined that he cared. So he had sent this wedding, this flower emoji back when they were actually married. He then said I wanted to come over on our wedding day. I thought it would have been nice to bring you some flowers, just to have a glass of wine. And she says I was shocked and I told him I wouldn't have been able to do that, I don't think. And because of what has happened in our past, on wedding days, she said, I couldn't have done that. But then here's the part that I really appreciate about this story. She said later I processed and I thought if he actually had wanted to do that, then why didn't he text me exactly what he wanted to do? Why didn't even mention our wedding day and his message, it was a flower emoji. And I told him I was having a bad time over some other stuff. So I thought it was about that. And I love that she went on to say, she's having many revelations like that. When you realize how a normal human being operates. And if they want to share a thought or a story, then they share a thought or a story. So they don't just send some coded message out and then see if the person takes the bait. Because now he can say, oh, I had perfectly good intentions if you want to reach back out to me, we would have had an amazing experience. I would have been incredibly, emotionally mature. We could have talked about the kids and co-parenting. And you would have seen that I have changed. But instead he, I believe, and I don't know him, but confabulated a good narrative that well, how can I, how can I make her feel bad? Oh, I'll tell, I'll tell you what. Oh, yeah, that, that's what I meant with that flower emoji. And she said, as I write this, I have so many revelations and she said she's going to talk to her therapist about it. And I love that. She said that with her therapist, they're having amazing conversations where she said, I talked to my narcissistic ex as if he's in the other chair. And then I take his perspective and I change chairs and talk as if I was him. She said, it's really helping her process and seeing the craziness of the conversations and the dynamics. And I love that, I have not done, they call that a little bit of an empty chair technique, and I have not done that myself in my practice, but I know that that is a, it can be a very powerful technique. I think often, even in the way that I do this, I love having somebody talk through. And then what did he say or what did she say? And so when the person, the pathologically kind person in my office the same, but maybe I took things wrong. And, but then when they start talking through, they know what that conversation would sound like. So I love what she's saying. And then when they say it out loud, which is the key, then you can typically get to the point where, okay. This is where again, I have overlooked a lot of these. I turned some red flags, yellow, I guess, as a better way to put that. 

Another person shared. And she said, one thing that I noticed the other day is how my emotionally immature husband seems to see everything as a slight against them and can play the victim in such odd ways. This is a fabulous story. I'm going to change a little bit of the details. But she said she went with their son to a music class. And he usually isn't able to go and the son is under the age of three. And when the son's at music class, he mostly just runs around because it's encouraged because he's under three and he comes up every once in a while and he will hug his mom. So with both of the people being there, he just went over and would hug one of them and then run off again. But she said it was split pretty evenly. However, almost every single time that he would hug the wife, then the husband would comment something like, oh, okay. Mom's your favorite? I'm just second fiddle, but I'm okay with that. All while smiling, looking around at everybody else for approval. She said it took me a while to figure out why it bothered me so much because if he really didn't care, he wouldn't feel the need to comment every time that that happened. And how will that make the son feel when he's old enough to understand that showing affection toward the wife, his mom, is going to hurt dad's feelings? And the way that he's expressing his hurt while pretending that he's not hurt at all can be crazy-making. And that point alone. Is showing how that's going to be modeled. So you better choose dad or dad is going to be upset. And so the kid is going to freeze and they're going to start now in their own caretaking role and having to try to manage the emotions of let's just say that even sees that mom's hurt later, emotionally down or withdrawn and he wants to go rescue because now he's programmed to rescue. And then, but then he sees dad walk in the room and all of a sudden he's got a decision to make. I know dad will get mad. And mom, I don't know, she's the one that usually buffers. And you can just see that now we're teaching our kids to caretake and to put their needs aside and to try to manage the room. And then to try to calm everyone's anxiety. So we're creating, in essence, a highly sensitive person who will then look for someone that they may need to caretake and that can be really difficult to watch as that child grows up. 

Another person that simply said when she's crying or frustrated and she said, “I need you. I would just love for you just to be nice.” And then her husband shouting, “I was nice to you all morning. Doesn't that count for anything?” We'll wrap this up with another person who shared, “When my sister passed away, who was my best friend, we were at the grave side and it was a very sudden death and I was barely able to function and he was just hugging and talking to everybody.” And she said, “I was standing there basically by myself and finally had to say, ‘Can I get a hug from you?’” And she said that was one of her aha moments because of his, even his reaction to her request or ask where she realized he doesn't really care about me. Now again, here's what I want to share. That one, as we wrap things up, as somebody simply hearing this example, especially maybe someone that we've referred to in the past as a Switzerland friend, meaning that they are one who just immediately, and I understand this goes to, well, there's two sides to every story. Maybe he was going through a lot himself, maybe that he was close to her as well. And he knew that the two of you would be able to reconnect later. So they may say that this person that is sharing this example is being a bit more dramatic. But here's where I want to say that with that person who left the last comment, I know far more to that story, and I know that this person was often told by their husband that she was the problem. There was one time that I think this is just such a phenomenal example that I would see over and over again in my practice when working with the narcissistic or emotionally immature. 

One time he had mentioned that even his doctor agreed that his wife at that time needed to be on medication and needed professional help. So let's just pause. Let's break this one down for a second and go back to that example that I gave about watching the interrogation videos. And the person who is being interrogated thinks that they are saying things that make absolute perfect sense. Saying things that will prove their point, their manipulative point. That all of these people agree with them, that their wife is crazy. And therefore she is the problem. She needs to do something, not him, but her. He has to have that external validation because he's making things up. But he's unwilling to self confront. And so he's literally creating that narrative on the fly and believing it in real time, which makes the gaslighting just flow out of them like water. Because in that scenario, I did, I specifically said, well we should probably get on a call with that doctor, because if the doctor was able to make a diagnosis off of the husband's description of his wife during his appointment, I might add, because how many times have you been to the doctor and they just had some time to kill, and you go through all the things that you were there to talk to the doctor about, and then you say, hey doc, let me tell you a couple of things about my wife, who you don't know by the way. And then can you give me your professional opinion, one that ends with, I might add any medical diagnosis that you are so sure of that she needs medical intervention. I mean, it's insanity. 

And in that situation, admittedly that was one of the times where I suggested that we just get on a phone call with the doctor again. And shockingly, he said that he knew that doctor was busy. And he didn't want to bother her, but apparently she wasn't too busy to take the extra time out of his appointment to make a formal diagnosis, including psychopharmacological intervention on the day of his employment. So this person had other examples that were similar of it's triangulation one. He said he had been telling his sister about all of his then wife's problems. And he also brought that out in therapy. And at that point, and again, look at what that person is saying. They're looking over at me thinking, oh man. No, that this is so normal. When people come in and then tell me and even though we're here to talk about the way to communicate as a couple, but yeah, let's put the evidence-based models that I've worked with over a thousand couples on that route out emotional immaturity or personality disorders. I'm going to put those on hold because apparently you've talked to your sister and she also agrees that your wife is crazy. So a great time to bring that up and then I will agree with you. We can all tell her that she's crazy. She'll say I did not even know I was crazy. And then that will make perfect sense. Because that's the way therapy works. I mean, just if you look at it that way, it just, it's so insane. The wife at the time, at that point, she was onto it and she just said, oh, I would love to hear her opinion. Why don't we just shoot her a text right now? And shockingly, he had, again, he did not think that that was a good idea. So a death by a thousand cuts is filled with these just tiny cuts, these tiny interactions. I admitted, I mentioned Sister Wives earlier. I'm recording part of this episode, on a second day as evidenced by if you're watching this on YouTube, my change of attire. But in the episode that we were watching last night, the husband was talking about divorce with one of his wives. And as I was watching, I believe I was viewing a classic narcissistic move. I'm not diagnosing anyone mind you. That is not my place since I'm not working with anyone on the show. Not that I wouldn't love to, but I believe that I was witnessing some extreme emotional immaturity when Cody shared that if he and his wife, Christine were going to divorce, that they needed to present this co-parenting agreement or else the state would immediately take the kids. They would become wards of the state. And I bring this example simply because when I've worked with people going through divorce, for example, typically the more emotionally immature person has all kinds of thoughts, facts, ideas on what that divorce process entails despite the fact that they may have never met with an attorney or been divorced before. But they absolutely know what is going to happen. And that once again, represents a bigger picture of the person simply spouting out words in one moment, confabulating a story that fits their narrative. Even in that moment that he knew more than she did that he was smarter and she was not as smart. And she didn't even know what she was getting into, but he did. One day I would love to do a complete deep dive on a reaction to that entire series of that show. 

But I do have enough material now for additional thousand cuts episodes. But I would love to hear more. And I feel like every time that I have shared one of these episodes, the three previous ones, this is where I get a number of emails of people saying, okay, this, this is my life. And so many people feel like, well, isn't everybody going through that kind of insanity? And they're not. Relationships aren't perfect by any means, but when this is the air that you breathe in your relationship of just feeling like there's this complete insanity and these small things happen over and over again, and the gaslighting and when you cannot even have your own thoughts or feelings or opinions, and you hold back because you aren't even sure if you should even bring something up because it usually doesn't go well. And you're trying to figure out when is the best time to finally bring up something that I just have to say, because it's affecting the kids, it's affecting my mental health or it's something that we need to talk about. But when we do, then things just go bad. That is not normal. And that's what I would love for you to start to just even think about looking for help, whether it's a professional help or turning to people that are non Switzerland friends, just to start to feel like you you are not crazy because you're not you're being, there's a good chance you're being emotionally manipulated or abused. And this is just part of the process, the process of awakening. And waking up to that narcissism or if you are listening to this and I, again, I'm so open about that this was all created initially, because of understanding my own emotional immaturity, narcissistic traits and tendencies. And it can be really difficult to sit with that and to self confront. But that is the beginning of healing of your own as well. So I just appreciate you taking the time. I would love to hear more stories. I would love to hear your examples of death by a thousand cuts. 

And, and I want to say, men who were in relationships with emotionally immature women. I see you too. I do. I work with you. I am working with a few in my practice right now, and I know that you are experiencing a similar, but completely different level of your own feelings of internal guilt and shame. And it is hard to open up about your situation. But please send me your examples as well. I know the traits and tendencies know no gender, but the majority of emotionally mature narcissistic people that I see. And according to the data I've shared in previous episodes are men, but I have worked with truly hundreds of men over my career who are in similar situations. So I want your stories to, I do want to hear from you. So thanks for taking the time and feel free to share these episodes, especially these death by a thousand cuts episodes because I think these are the ones that really, really hit and people really understand these and they start to resonate and people start to wake up to their own narcissism or the emotional immaturity in their relationships. Thanks again. And we'll see you next time on Waking Up to Narcissism

Tony talks with Kristin Hill, a fellow therapist, about her “waking up” to the narcissism of an in-law and the challenges that come along with interrupting a “family system” that already has an established pattern of behavior around an emotionally immature individual. Kristin is a mental health counselor based in Washington specializing in postpartum mood and anxiety disorders and providing birth trauma support. Kristin is trained in EMDR and emotionally focused therapy, attachment, and working within a family system. 

In October 2013, Kristin experienced a traumatic birth and birth injury. As a result, she suffered from Postpartum PTSD. Kristin said it took almost one year until she found a perinatal therapist to help her in her journey. 

You can learn more about Kristin’s work at http://www.kristinhilltherapy.com or email her at kristinhilltherapy@gmail.com. Tony referenced EMDR, and you can find a quick overview of EMDR here https://maibergerinstitute.com/emdr-training/

If you are interested in being coached in Tony's upcoming "Magnetic Marriage Podcast," please email him for more information. You will receive free marriage coaching and remain anonymous when the episode airs. 

Go to http://tonyoverbay.com/workshop to sign up for Tony's "Magnetize Your Marriage" virtual workshop. The cost is only $19, and you'll learn the top 3 things you can do NOW to create a Magnetic Marriage. 

You can learn more about Tony's pornography recovery program, The Path Back, by visiting http://pathbackrecovery.com And visit http://tonyoverbay.com and sign up to receive updates on upcoming programs and podcasts.

Tony mentioned a product that he used to take out all of the "uh's" and "um's" that, in his words, "must be created by wizards and magic!" because it's that good! To learn more about Descript, click here https://descript.com?lmref=bSWcEQ

Transcript

Tony: Okay. Kristen Hill, waking, waking. Take three at this point. Welcome. Here we go. Welcome to a podcast. I was going to say Waking Up to Narcissism, but part of me wonders, I think this might be a Virtual Couch and Waking Up to Narcissism material. But I love, here's a quick train of thought. I love going to movies and every now and again, I can go to one and I know nothing about the movie, and I just think it's so, I enjoy it a little bit more, but sometimes there's dud. That's not me saying that there's a potential dud in the interview. Don't get me wrong, but we had exchanged a couple emails and you have your own experiences around narcissism, and you are also a therapist. So I'm really just going to step back and say, okay, Kristin, take it away and tell me about who you are. And then tell me your story and I'm looking forward to this. 

Kristin: Well, feel free to interject at any point. Well, I'm in Seattle. And I've been a therapist for, God, I don't know, like 14 years. I specialize in perinatal therapy, so any of the infertility, postpartum birth, trauma, all that stuff. 

Tony: That's my, can I ask you, can I ask you a question about being in Seattle, and this might sound like a therapist hack bit, but do you find that people are more or less depressed because of the rain or the gloom or that sort of thing?

Kristin: I guess, I don't know because I don't have a lot to compare it to. You know, because I mean, I practiced briefly in Kansas City and then we moved. But I mean, everyone is definitely deficient in vitamin D, I mean I think that's just a thing. 

Tony: Yeah. Do you, do you ever do you have people that use the light boxes or light therapy?

Kristin: Yeah. 

Tony: Ok. I just bought one. They’re very bright.

Kristin: Yeah. They're very bright. Yeah. I don't know. I don't know. It's hard because I think I'm seeing people too, under such specific depressed situations for the most part. So it's hard to know what's always what, but, yeah.

Tony: And what I don't, I haven't really worked with that population, so really what does your typical client come in and what are their challenges and how does that look? 

Kristin: Yeah. Usually they come to me if they're pregnant and have had like, so I have a specific specialty in birth trauma. I came to it by way of myself experiencing it, and that's kind of how we sometimes do go through that. Right? We then find a passion. And so a lot of people come to me if they've had a traumatic birth, if they have had a previous one and are pregnant again. If they are having anxiety or depression while they're pregnant, wanting to kind of get ahead of it. Or often, most often after they're pregnant and really struggling with anxiety, depression and any ptsd symptoms from birth, which like one in three women view their birth as traumatic. So quite a few women, actually, that struggle with symptoms.

Tony: Okay I haven't really thought of it that way. So then if that's the case, somebody's just had this traumatic experience and now they are also supposed to now bond with this tiny human being. I can imagine what, that there's, that could be a challenge. What kind of therapy modality or what kind of things do you do in that situation?

Kristin: Well, I'm trained in emdr so that is super effective. Just any of the pieces of, you know, just using any parts of emdr, even if we don't always do reprocessing, any of the strategies connected to it are so, so helpful. So I really come from that lens. And then my history before getting trained and that is like attachment focused and yeah, I used to do more couples work, so I was trained in EFT so I kind of come from that space too, and a family, whole picture obviously, which as you know, cause you're a dad too, family issues, which is something I've noticed just really blow up after you have kids. And yeah, that's also what I kind of end up doing is helping these new mothers and fathers manage that aspect too, of family dynamics that they didn't see before. And a lot of it, I think I had mentioned to you in one of our messages is that a lot of my clients have parents with narcissistic tendencies, and so kind of, I'm like, wow, that's something that just kind of fell in my lap, but I've already had a lot of experience with it, so yeah, it's fine. 

Tony: I like what you're, I like what you're saying though. It does come from experience because you start to see a pattern. Yeah. Is that what? 

Kristin: Yeah. And so then I kind of end up also coaching them to like how to create their boundaries and, you know, just how to communicate with which, that's kind of how I found your podcast. Actually a client sent me your podcast cause we were working through some of that. And I was like, oh, cool. And I started listening to it and so I've sent it to other clients over the years, because it's nice to give them something to listen to more than just me. 

Tony: I like what you're saying though too, because the part where people say, but our relationship was fine, and it was until, I like what you're saying and then whatever the traumatic life event is, which could be kids, moving, death, any of those, and then it's almost like that unlocks this part of this person and now how do they show up in the relationship? Okay. So what's your story? We could talk, I want to talk to you sometime real, real quick on the EMDR front too. I'm curious what your thoughts are, maybe this is, we'll have to dig into this in another episode sometime but do you feel like EMDR can work with relationship trauma as well? 

Kristin: Actually I do. And I, yeah. I haven't been, I should say I haven't been specifically trained in that EMDR and relationship, but I use it with couples anyway. So, you know, anyone who's listening to this, if they're like, what are you doing? I know that there is training for relationships, EMDR, but I just, I do use it with them. Sometimes I'll have a client, she'll, he or she will do a set of reprocessing EMDR and have the partner there. Just to kind of be, I like it because it's like that attachment piece, like they're, it's creating that secure attachment within that space. So if they feel safe to do it I'll do that. But I often just use the tools from EMDR with the couple, like doing , I don't know how familiar you are and you know, with all of that.

Tony: I actually just bought all my equipment and I've done a couple of online trainings, but not the certification. So I'm very fascinated by this. 

Kristin: Yeah. Well, and I think what's interesting is, like I learned, so I got trained in  EMDR during the pandemic. So I haven't used any of the tools. I've just been doing virtual. And so we use bilateral tapping like this to do all the reprocessing. And so I use that with couples all the time just to help them regulate and you know, it's really effective and helps them just come down from, if they're in a space of strangulation and anger. 

Tony: Yeah. And I like what you're saying, and I feel like it sounds like you've been doing this for a while. 14 years and I've been doing it, I don't know, 16, 17 years. And I feel like we do start to really find, based on our experiences a little bit of what a, I've been calling it lately in my head, a customized treatment plan. So yes, I may pull some attachment things, some EFT related things, some ACT things. And so I'm trying to look at the EMDR piece as something to maybe put into my repertoire, I guess in a sense. So, I like what you're saying, and if people are out hearing this, then they, that isn't part of their experience and they say, well, that you shouldn't do that, then that's where I go with a good old, bless your heart, because I'm going to do what works. And so I'll say this real quick and then I want to get your story because I'm looking up this document that I found that I really thought was interesting. So this is where I'm curious to know your thoughts around EMDR. It's from, are you familiar with Andrew Huberman? He's got a lot of, he's got a lot of videos on YouTube and his podcast is really good as well. And here it is. Okay, so I have a transcript of one of his, just a five minute YouTube video, and he said, “Talk therapy where people would feel a positive relationship with a therapist,” So he said, “that was the primary rationale and association with these traumatic, sometimes shameful type events. The idea is that you would simultaneously have two experiences, a negative one with the feeling of safety, and that would start to rewire the circuitry.” And so I liked how he said that, and then he talked about that with the EMDR that, and tell me if this is your thoughts too, but he said, so it's in essence speeding up that process of being able to have a traumatic experience with a safe experience. And then the part that sold me on it was where he said that when you were a kid and you're just up and you're moving forward, your eyes are moving back and forth , to scan for safety. And the cool way the brain works is according to what he said, and that's why I had to get the transcript of this is that it then suppresses like the fight or flight chemicals in the amygdala when we can see that I'm safe. And then, and this is where the stuff that I talk about with the brain that I'm now putting these pieces together. So I may be wrong, but then the brain starts to skip steps and it says, okay, I don't have to be up and looking back and forth, moving around. Eventually I trust that my eyes are moving back and forth. I must be safe. And so then, I'm suppressing the cortisol in the brain. Yeah. And so then, and then eventually it's like I don't even have to have my eyes doing it. I can be doing it with the tapping. I don't know. And I may be making all of that up.

Kristin: No, I think that's an interesting way to put it. Because I haven't used eye movement a whole lot. I look at it more as grounding and being really present. Like it's taking you away from that trauma memory, sucks you back like you think you're there again. It takes you back to the here and now. Like I'm not actually in that space anymore. And then you experience that groundedness with a safe other person that's you know, so, it's like you can experience the trauma in a safe place and remember that, oh, it's not actually happening now. It's over. So I don't know. I think that's interesting what he's saying though. For sure. Yeah. There's, yeah, I don't get, I don't nerd out super like a whole lot on all the scientific neurological, I wish I did more.

Tony: Okay. But what's funny is I realized the reason I do is because I want validation and I want people to think I'm smart because I was never very, right? So now that I'm coming to terms, but anyway. Okay. See we can just keep going. All right. So then that brings us to your story and working with narcissistic family systems. So now tell me more. 

Kristin: Okay, well, okay, so before I worked with narcissistic families, I came into a situation where, very young, at 20, I started dating my husband and didn't know at the time, he didn't either, but his mom is a pathological narcissist. And this is what I'm finding with a lot of my clients who have narcissistic in-laws, you, you start dating someone and you're young and you don't know what's what, right? You don't, you're coming into a family or trying to respect their whole deal and make a good impression. And you know, I think generationally like we've all grown up, it's you know, family is important and respect family and there's been a lot of emphasis on don't make waves and just accept whatever's happening. So there's all that playing in the background.

Tony: Can I tell you, this is an ADHD joke, but I saw a shirt one time and it was this shirt and a bunch of people wearing it. It was a family reunion and it said “family over everything”. I know, right? And I said to my wife, I'm like, oh, family over emotional abuse, family over mental abuse, family over, and I thought, man, that is, but understand that's where people are coming from. So then it's like, yeah, I mean, you know, I can't, I can't question them or they're allowed to treat me like crap because they're family, and that's not okay. 

Kristin: Yeah, and that is, I don't know if you've, I mean you've worked with tons of, you know, clients who've been in this situation. So it is kind of the, just accept it. Just deal. It's family, you know? So I came from some of that space, obviously like many of us did. And so in my twenties I'm like, okay, this, there's something off with this person, her son who I married was her kind of favorite golden child. Right. Gotcha. The one that was, he was the oldest, he was a musical performer. Like he just, he did all the things she wanted him to do. And so I come in and I'm, you know, I'm not like a docile, quiet person. So I come in and I'm like, wait, what? You know, kind of asking questions and, and respectfully, not really to her, but to my husband, so I married into this situation where you know, while we were dating, I had many strange experiences with her kind of trying to assert power and control. Like making me put my suitcase in the garage the first time I ever stayed at their house. 

Tony: Okay. How, what, what was the rationale behind that? 

Kristin: Because the room I was staying in was small, so she thought that it would be nice for me to have more space in the room. To then walk out in the winter, in the cold garage to get my clothes. So, and you know, when you're 20 and you're like, okay, like, I want to respect this person, so as you can imagine, over the years, lots of buildup of many things. And yet, because we were young, and navigating this dynamic for the first time, we tried to kind of go with the flow and not make a lot of waves. But it was hard because I'm like, this is weird, like the family really just kind of, she was the center and they tiptoed around her. I mean, the way they survived was how you do with a narcissist, you just don't make waves. You just kind of like go around her, go behind her because that's how his dad survived. And so that's how he and his brother survived also. And then I come in, I start going to grad school and I'm like, hey, you know, this is weird. I think your mom might be a narcissist, and we start having these conversations.

Tony: How did he take that initially? Was that like, I feel like sometimes it's the, was he okay with that?

Kristin: Oh he was okay because he knew she was weird and odd like, he knew that her behavior was strange and he was okay with it. But then it's like the dynamic of, okay, well how do we, and we were still, you know, mid twenties, he wants a relationship with his parents, you know, it's that whole thing where you feel that as the child you want to have a connection with the parent, even though there's this whole thing going on. Then that's dysfunctional. And of course he had all, I think it made sense to him suddenly, because he had all these stories with his mom of all this bizarre stuff she would do and put them through their whole life. And so I think it maybe in a way was a relief because he was like, oh, that's what's happening, right? But we lived far away from them, so we didn't have to deal with them a whole lot, you know? And so that was kind of nice, but then at the same time, we didn't have to learn, I think, how to push, how to set some boundaries, right? Because we would just kind of survive visits and then leave, and then there'd be all this residual stuff to the point where I would get really panicky when we would have to see them because she was so against me.

Tony: Yeah. And how many years into, how many years into the marriage was that when you started to really realize that?

Kristin: Oh, I mean, five years probably. I think I got panicky before then. It was a long time of me just trying to muscle through because I had a sister-in-law who is very sweet and didn't question things and just, and here I was like, what is happening? And I was kind of the black sheep being like, hey, this is weird. And everyone's like, let's just be cool.

Tony: Yeah, don't rock the boat.

Kristin: Yeah. And I couldn't, I couldn't not do it. So what kind of spurred everything on is we have a child. And she unfortunately happened to be in our home visiting  a week after he was born, during just a really traumatic, horrible thing that I discovered from my birth and she was there. So then we were intertwined in this traumatic birth thing. And that wasn't great, right? So we had all this stuff, just like this ball of, I don't even know what to call it. 

Tony: You said meshing, just a big old mess. Mesh. Yeah. 

Kristin: Yeah. Just a mess. That and all this unspoken stuff, right? Because you don't talk about it because she's not safe. So then we went on this Christmas trip, all of us together, 2013, I had a one year old, almost one, and my husband's brother had two little, little kids like babies. And we're all staying in a house together. Not smart. And my mother-in-law, usually we start noticing a pattern around day three. She can't really hold back all of her narcissistic tendencies anymore. Like she tries to kind of behave. But then she can't anymore. And so around day three, she starts kind of acting up. So one of the things she does is she just wants to kind of, you know, find ways of having power and control over everyone.

So she's like, I'm going to heat up dinner for everyone. And so my sister-in-law every year, we all do the cooking because she's a terrible cook, she doesn't like to cook. So she made a big to-do about how she made dinner by heating the leftovers. And she had this unspoken expectation that we would all just come sit at the table and start to eat, and she just kept waiting and getting frustrated. Meanwhile, we're tending to little babies and she's like bubbling up with anger in the kitchen, and so my husband tries to kind of move things along, so he goes he gets a plate and puts some food on. He goes and sits at the table. She doesn't like that because it wasn't what she imagined, which was everyone sitting at the table with this nice meal she had prepared.

She walks over to his plate, she picks the food up off the plate with her hands, and she takes it back and puts it in the kitchen. She's mad. She's very mad and we're all just like, okay. Because, her sons don't often, you know, they don't really get into it with her a whole lot. But my husband was like, just kind of went off on her like, what are you doing? That is crazy and then they kind of talked it out and then everyone's just quiet and you just move on. Like it didn't happen. 

Tony: What is the talk? Because I feel like the talk it out even is, what does that look like?

Kristin: It's, it's not, it's like fighting.

Tony: Agree to disagree or whatever it is. Okay. Yeah.

Kristin: Sorry, I shouldn't have said it. That was a nice way of putting it. It was like just a little back and forth. Snap, snap, snap. And then, and as you know, as you know, narcissists, they just move right on.

Tony: So, well that, and that's why I appreciate that, because I feel like I hear you with the, and then we talked it out because I feel like too, the narcissist that really is, I mean we did, we, we worked through what we're done. Now let's go ride bikes. Yeah. I mean, we're done. Yeah. 

Kristin: Yeah. In fact, in your podcast the other day, I was just cracking up at so many things you said, cause it was so relatable. The narcissist wants you to confront them, they love it. And you'll see that in this story. So we all sit down, we have dinner, act like nothing happened, but I am like seething at this point because I'm like, this is not okay. We're grown up adults, you can't do that. And so we get through the evening and then the next morning, so she's, I think already a little, she's more and more heightened. Right? Wants more, I don't know. She feels very, I think out of the loop because she had this whole expectation. It's so many years of stuff, but my sister-in-law and I would be close with her and we would. You know, and so she, we're not, because she's not safe and so yeah, she feels outside, right? She feels very on the outside. So she begins to act up when she starts feeling that way, you know, after a few days. And so that morning we'd asked them if they would watch our kids while we go out, just the four of us for coffee or something, we think, oh they get the grandkids all to themselves, we get a little space, and she would not do it. She just wouldn't do it. It's like, I'm not going to do this thing you want me to do, just because I don't want to.

Tony: I'll show you.I’m hurt.

Kristin: I'm hurt, I'm angry and so no, I'm not going to do this thing. And so I hear my husband and his brother arguing with her, or my husband's arguing with her and his brother's kind of playing the younger child, let's just stop, you know? Everyone fighting, and I'm in the other room and I've had it, I've just had it. I couldn't, I couldn't deal with it anymore. And I'm, you know, I have a baby and I'm tired and so I go in there for the first time, the first time I've ever pushed back or stood up or anything to her, and I'm just like, I am done with this crap. I'm like, I just am like, you've gotta stop talking to my husband this way. He's your son. You can't treat him this way anymore. This is not okay. And then I looked at his brother cause I was frustrated with him, like, why don't you stick up for him? You know? And everyone's just like, what is happening? And because no one does this with her. And I of course, and I'm like, yeah 30 years old. And I still feel just young and naive in so many ways. 

Tony: And well I think that's that part where it's like, man, I think I can get her to understand and Right. Do you feel like that, that if I just stand up to her?

Kristin: I don't even know if I was trying to do that. I don't think I was trying to get her to understand. I was just like, someone has to stop this. And I knew my husband wasn't there yet. Like I knew he couldn't do that yet. Right. Yeah. Like he wasn't. He was still trying to figure out his dynamic in the family and how to separate out. Right.

Tony: I feel bad even interrupting, but I'm curious about your opinion. So I, you know, I talk about these five steps or rules of, you know, raise your baseline, and PhD in gaslighting, and get out of unproductive conversations, set boundaries, and there's nothing you'll do or say that will cause the aha moment. But then I feel like I desperate, I desperately then want, not desperately, but then I want to go back and say, yeah there's a difference between, I'm not trying to cause them to have the aha moment, but now it does become a boundary that when they do this, I will do this. Do you feel like that was kind of more of the vibe that you were putting out?

Kristin: Yes. I definitely don't think I was trying to get through to her. But like I just wanted it to stop. And no one was stopping it, right? Because everyone was just operating as the family does. It's like the unspoken rule, right? And I'm just like, I'm not doing that anymore. So it was more I think about me and us, my husband than her. 

Tony: Well, and what, and what I like about that, I just did an episode of why you don't confront the narcissist. And I was, you know, I laid down basically, right. And, I really felt confident about that. But then I also got some feedback that was people saying that, man, that makes sense. But then at some point, it, and it really was , how do I show others that there is hope almost to extricate themselves from the situation and I've been thinking about that. So, it's ironic that we're talking about this today because I feel like that one, it ended with basically saying don't even engage at all, period. But I feel like even if somebody now knows what they know is their room then to have this, again, not confrontation to change, but boundary to say, I like what you're saying like enough, you know, it is finished. 

Kristin: And I would add to that when I work with clients, I, you know, I leave it up to them, obviously do they want to express anything to their parent or partner or whatever. But what we have to get really solid on is their own internal kind of self and expectations and they have to be clear, why am I doing this? What do I want to get from it? Am I solid in my own self enough to do that? So, and then it's like, okay, tell them what you wanna tell them, but just know you're not going to get the response you want. And so you have to be okay with that.

Tony: Yeah. Right. And then, no, I love it. And that's where , I had a lady at one point who was gonna confront her narcissistic dad in a particular situation. And she worked hard to get to the point where she felt like, I don't think I need to, to then feel like she was in a spot where she said, but now I can and even though, even if I get gas lit, even if I, you know, because yeah, cuz it can have a net negative effect if somebody goes in with expectations. 

Kristin: It just is more injury. More injury, more injury, right? And I will say at this point, even though at that moment that I was like, we're done, we're not doing this. I wasn't trying to get to her necessarily. Later something happens where we really, we really made a mistake on that one. So it gets better. So I'm, anyway, I have that confrontation. Everyone's cried. I leave crying, I'm calling my mom like, I, you know, this is so bad, blah, blah, blah. And I'm like, we need to leave. You know, I just want to leave. And my husband comes out and he's like, so our sister-in-law, bless her heart. She thought, well, maybe it would be helpful if we all sit in the living room and talk. 

Tony: That's adorable. Yes, of course I will. Yeah, she'll, she'll see the error of her ways. Everybody will work it out. 

Kristin: And my only thinking was, I'm like, oh, this is not going to go great. Yeah. But I said to myself, for years I had known she had set her eyes on me as her, what do you call it? 

Tony: Were you the hope?

Kristin: The foe.

Tony: Oh, you're talking about the mom. 

Kristin: Yes. My mother-in-law. I'm the adversary. I'm the problem. And so I was like, kind of always trying to get everyone to really see it like you guys see how, but everyone would just like, no, I don't know. So I'm like, fine. This is an opportunity for everyone to see that this is true. And so we go in and everyone's sitting there and she just turns, my mother-in-law turns to me and just looks me dead in the eye and says, “well, my biggest problem is with you”. Oh, and in my mind she just says it and I'm like, okay. Everyone knows now that I'm, she has a problem with me. Of course it doesn't go great after that. Right. Everyone kind of proceeds to try to share various things and experiences. What is she doing? She's feeling attacked. Like you said, in that podcast the other day. She's feeling like you're bad, we’re good.

Tony: We're good. We're good. All or nothing. Black or white.

Kristin: Exactly. And so it doesn't go great, and even I get caught up in it, you know, because it's emotional and at some point I'm just like, this is not going anywhere. And I'm upset and angry and feeling still kind of alone. That was a lot. Being here a lot, it was very much feeling alone in the family because I was the one kind of saying, And,  because, you know, I'm a therapist, I'm seeing it all, you know? Everyone doesn't have that background, but I'm trying to hold new boundaries and everyone's just like not trying that at all. I felt very alone in our family for many years. And so there, I'm just feeling it, feeling it, feeling it, and I'm just like, I'm done subjecting myself to this. And so I don't know how you feel about choice language in this episode.

Tony: I can, I can click a box that says explicit and we're good to go. 

Kristin: Okay. I mean, I, I don't have to say the word, but I, I'm not a, like I grew up as a pastor's kid, so I'm not someone who's just like cussing people out or anything. But I just had it, and I just stood up in the room and I'm like, F this, I'm done, we're leaving. And she follows me into the room. I'm like, please don't follow me. Please stay away from me. You know, I'm just a mess. And I could tell in that moment, she's like, oh, shoot, if we don't fix this now, I might never see my son again, right? 

Tony: Yeah. Yes, exactly.

Kristin: And so she's trying to like reel it in, reel it in, reel it in, and I'm literally like, leave me alone. Get out of this room. Like packing all the things. My husband comes in again, here comes that dysfunctional family dynamic, and he's like, let's just go for a drive and like then we'll figure stuff out. So we go for a drive and I'm just like sobbing. You know, we're talking and we get back to the house and my brother and sister-in-law are just upstairs, like nothing ever happened. We feel this feeling of like, if we leave, how does that look? We feel sort of this fear. I think he did more. But yeah, we ended up staying. And we shouldn't have. Yeah, we really shouldn't have. But it was like, well, everyone else is going to act like they're okay. And I felt a little bit of this. I was still struggling with like I'm always the bad guy in the family. I don't like that feeling. I don't want to be that. And here's my sister-in-law, just being loved and sweet and not ever making waves. And I'm kind of jealous and you know, I want to be like that. And so I'm like, well, we should maybe stay, I guess too, because I don't want to be the black sheep. I don't want to be that person. And so we stayed and that's one of the biggest regrets I have, honestly because I think that would've been a really clear boundary at that point. Like, we don't stay when this stuff happens but then we get through the next day and we leave  and I could tell when we left that she was, my mother-in-law was internally scared about whether she would see any of us again.

Tony: And don't you feel like they take on that role of a little kid who got scolded and now they're bad, they're in trouble. 

Kristin: Yeah, yes. I saw that from her so much. I have seen her, in fact, in the last few years we've had to deal with a lot of shit with her stuff, sorry. . . And we didn't see her for almost two and a half years. And this last time I saw her she was like a wounded bird around me. She was like, this just a crumpled little bird. And I just watched, watched it in amazement. It just was so interesting and I've seen her do that a few other times in our marriage. But, you know, I think what I learned from that whole thing was like, I feel empathy for that version of me. You know, because she just didn't know everything I know now. And I, and it's helped me to work with these other families because they could easily be in these situations on the holidays and Christmas. Had I known what I have known now, I never would've stayed home with them ever on a family vacation, there's so many things I would've done differently and because of that situation was just it was like the trauma that she was around after my birth, and then it was the family thing. I was then just an anxious wreck around her for a long time, I had to do a lot of therapy. We as a couple did a lot of therapy, I mean, this was 2013, so I think just in the last year and a half really, my husband has finally kind of come to a healthy place within himself around all of this. And there's so many things. It's complicated, but I just thought that's a fun holiday story because people are gonna find themselves in this. 

Tony: They are. And just knowing that, and I, I appreciate this so much because yeah, you didn't know what you didn't know. You're giving yourself that compassion. But I feel like that part that I talk about on the podcast often is when you are standing up to the narcissist, it means they push more buttons and they get bigger. And, that's hard because typically it's the nice person that's trying to finally stand up for justice and what's right but then when the narcissist then goes big, I mean, I, yeah, that, that shows I appreciate your story because then that next day and you are feeling, I don't like being the bad guy and it shows you feel, shows how people fall in line. Yeah. 

Kristin: Yeah. You feel like maybe I'm overreacting. So the gaslighting thing, right? Like there's a lot of that because everyone else in the family is like we're just going to move on. We're going to be fine. We don't, and I'm just like, wrecked inside. Yeah. And then I'm going, I spent years feeling like, am I overreacting? Am I making this too big of a thing, you know, just feeling like it was me and that is, that is not a fun place to be for that many years. And it was really hard. And yes, I dealt with tons of anxiety. I mean, every time we'd have any family visitor, my hands would sweat, my heart would be racing. It was traumatic for me, I think just because I didn't expect her to be the way she was from the get go, you know.

Tony: And how could you, I mean, especially when we just go in with these expectations and assumptions that people do think relatively similar to how we do. And, and I think that's hard because I feel like the people in my office spend so much time even trying to make sense of what doesn't make sense. Or you know, I'm sure they're hurting or I'm sure they're struggling too. And so I don't like that feeling, so maybe I need to let them know or reach out to them and you know, maybe we can just now have a conversation. All those things that are, it's part of that, I feel like that process that you have to go through and you have to go through it.

Kristin: Yeah, you kind of do. Yeah. Which is unfortunate. 

Tony: Yeah, but I feel like stories like yours or when people can listen to podcasts or I've got this private women's group, or I feel like the more that they hear the stories I feel like it can maybe speed up the process, I don't know 10%, 15%, which I know doesn't sound incredible, but if that's a year or more that it can help somebody get through this quicker because boy, it does it when you think about all the emotional calories spent and energy spent on trying to figure out or what's wrong with, or yeah.

Kristin: And you know, I have to credit my, I had an EMDR therapist for four years. She's just, I love her to death and she helped me work through so much of that. And the thing, I think one of the things that really stuck with me is giving that negative energy to the person. Like I realized the more that I kept kind of ruminating , and hyper focusing on awful stuff she would do, right? Because she would do some awful stuff over the years, but all it did was hurt me because I wasn't helping anything by just trying to get justice or trying to fight back, or trying to get my husband to fight back. It only really hurt me and it actually continued to give her power in our marriage and I just was like, I don't want to do that anymore. I don't want to give that to her anymore. 

Tony: , when I go back, even when we were talking earlier and I'm saying, okay, but can it be set in a boundary and not trying to have the aha moment , and I still feel like at, when somebody is through it, well past whatever , the break was with the narcissist mm-hmm.

that they often do almost find themselves in a spot where they feel like maybe if I would've been able to just pull this Zen mindfulness thing, . I would've calmly just grabbed my stuff and left, you know? And that I, yeah. But I feel like, again, we, but we have to go through it because I still feel like our brain's still trying , to make sense of things, even if we are aware, because, and I think that's why I struggle with that, going back from, all right, I promise I'm not trying to get them to understand, but, here's this boundary.

Even if it's to lead the people out of the wilderness or whatever. , but then I still kind of go back to this place of, but then I feel like down the road, We do, we kind of feel like, ah, , what would that have looked like if I could have , just left calmly and quietly and known that I never was gonna get that exactly right.

But then I don't think that can happen in the moment. I, I don't think it can. I don't know if that's something. Yeah. 

Kristin: Cause we're just, no, I just think we're so heightened in our own emotional state. Right. We're human. We're human, we're not, yeah. , and especially when you have so many years built up of stuff, right?

Yeah. And then that situation like that where everyone's talking about all the things and the family that have happened, you just, you're human. You're gonna respond in a human way. Yeah. Even if you know the right way to be in that moment. 

Tony: You know what's funny? I, I ran into one, , story of someone telling me about a friend of theirs.

And this is so funny cuz I feel like I've got one example of where a woman was in a relationship with a guy that had extreme narcissistic traits. And then when she was aware, Then she left. Mm-hmm. and, and it sounds so simplistic, but even then this person, this was saying, , , how did she do it?

And then she identified that she grew up , with a secure attachment at home, so Right. She had been taught that, well, you don't put up with that sort of thing. Yeah. You don't waste time or energy. And so I feel like it's almost sad to think that I've got one anecdotal , example of that, cuz I think maybe that's what my brain wants to say.

How do we help people get to the point where, oh, I'm not putting up with this at all, but Yes. Yeah. , 

Kristin: but if most people don't come from healthy attachments. Yeah. Which I would find, I have a curiosity about all of it too, the thing I wonder about, just because I have, I would say like 70% of who I see, they have some family member with narcissistic traits.

Yeah. You know, they're dealing with, I'm like, why is it so pervasive? Have you thought about this? Like, 

Tony: no. All the time. 

Kristin: is it like because of the generational stuff, like the parents in our, you know, parents' generation were just not very emotional and they didn't Yep. You know, I mean, I know why my mother-in-law's the way she is.

She came from a ton of abuse and yeah. All that stuff. But you know, , oh, oh, 

Tony: Kristen. So I'm, I'm getting all excited now cuz I feel like this, I think about this constantly because yeah, when, when I started identifying this population, working more and more with it, identifying my own narcissistic traits, tendencies, uhhuh, emotional maturity, uh, then I think it was early on in the Waking Up the Narcissism podcast where I, I was very intentional , on shifting it to emotional immaturity versus.

Narcissistic traits and tendencies because I feel like when you look at it through the, , we're all emotionally immature until we're not uhhuh, , then I go uhhuh. I do, I do kind of call it generational narcissism because I feel like, , you go back to like my parents or my parents' parents, And , nobody dealt with emotion like that was weakness.

No. And so then you, the kids were growing up Absolutely not seeing it modeled and not having somebody take ownership and you don't, and you rub a little dirt in it. Mm-hmm. and, and I did one on the virtual couch recently about anxious attachment where it was kind of, you know, sorry, moms in a sense. Right.

But it was saying if the mom didn't. You know, when she needed , to feel like a good mom. She's like, come over here and gimme a hug. But when, but then she's managing dad's emotions. She's managing all these other things. So when the kid has a need for, , validation, she may say, man, not right now. Or, you know what, it's really not a big deal.

Or even a good mom is doing that. So now the, the kid then exits into a relationship and then they're saying, all I wanna do is be loved and heard. But then when somebody turns that on 'em, then they don't know what to do with it. And I think that's why almost every relationship I see the pursuer and the withdrawal kind of a concept.

Mm-hmm. . So yeah, , right? And then you gotta deal with that and self confront. So I still feel like if we can get this message out about, , Everybody is emotionally immature and start from that, then we can, I like that. Then we can realize that then we're all enmeshed and codependent. Then we go through the, and that's why I like what you're saying earlier, then we have life things happen and that's our opportunity to say, whoa, look at how I respond.

, and how do you respond? But boy, we gotta get that message out early, you know? Yes. Instead, yeah. So, so do you mind? Yeah. Like a couple more minutes or two, do you. Know that, so, so now what does that look like in your practice then? Because when you were saying about it earlier, there's a part of me wants to try to find patterns and everything, so, you know mm-hmm.

I don't know. Does somebody, but are the traumatic experiences a lot more medical trauma? Are they emotional trauma? Are they, you know, is there a correlation of somebody that is worried they're gonna do it wrong because of their family dynamic of, of birth or, or loving their kid, or, I don't know. You see where I'm, I I know.

I'm just throwing out. 

Kristin: You just mean like in. . You're not talking about narcissism, you're just talking about in my birth. No. Yeah. Yeah. What am 

Tony: I seeing? Yeah. 

Kristin: , I mean all of those things, . Yeah. You know, , I think what's a, a through thread probably for every single one though, is , especially if there's birth trauma, you're playing out whatever.

, unhealthy attachment you had as a child in your birth room. So whether it's I'm not heard, I'm, or it's not you're playing it out, but , , it gets played out. Okay. , so. Most people in motherhood or birth are something from their childhood's gonna come up. So it's all family connected. . Yeah. Right.

So though we're working on minimizing initial really severe symptoms first, , let's get the depression under, you know, handled whether it's like meds or , more sport or whatever. Mm-hmm. . , and then it's like usually then there's space to be like, okay, well, , you know what? Internal, like, , with , emdr, it's like what's the internal negative belief about self, right?

Yes. So usually we'll go to that place. and, oh, where did that come from? And then we end up inevitably doing family work, Uhhuh, , because it's all connected. 

Tony: That's it. So that's, no, Kristen, like that's, cause I did another thing on this limiting self-limiting beliefs. Mm-hmm. and like looking at where those come from.

And so I, yeah. So yeah, I can only imagine if somebody had a traumatic experience or they experienced depression , or any of those things that, , do they go right to the, what's wrong with me? Or I must not have been doing this right. Oh, always. Gotcha. 

Kristin: Okay. Oh yeah. Especially with birth trauma, every woman goes immediately to, I did something.

Aw, it was me. Instead of, oh, that doctor messed up, or those nurses weren't, you know, or something just happened. It just happened. Just happened. Yeah. Yeah. It's always, and I experienced that within my own self with my birth traumas. Like, I must have done something wrong. Yeah. So, and that's because when we were ki you know, we, it's there is that through line of like, I already believe.

That I do stuff wrong or I'm bad, or you know, I'm whatever I deserve this, or if whatever that sort of negative internal belief is, it's gonna come back. It's gonna just come up in that moment. Right? Yes. 

Tony: Oh, that, I think you just, you just said that, that makes so much sense of the Yeah. As a kid, I mean, we default the shame because we have that vibe of if my parents aren't responding to my needs and we don't understand, yep.

Then it's like, well, it must be me. I had to have done something wrong. It must be. 

Kristin: So then if I'm in the birth room and people aren't responding to me or listening or , I'm not pushing right or I'm, you know, and there's so much like language that happens in a birth room from doctors and nurses.

They don't realize too how they pile on that like, , you know, you're not doing this enough, or you're blah blah, blah. You know, so it just piles on. Oh, all of that already. Yeah. So, yeah, it's pretty, it's intense. . 

Tony: , well then I go back to that , and when I use , the acceptance and commitment therapy skills of how about you're doing nothing wrong, that's the first time you're in that moment.

Having that experience, whether it's your first kid or your eighth kid, it's still the first time you're. . And so, oh, I can't imagine. Oh yeah. 

Kristin: Yes. But , till you gotta go back and clear out where that initial negative belief came from. It's hard for them to believe that in the birth. Yeah. Um, memory.

Yeah. So it's like they, you have to kind of go backward and say, oh, where did that start? Where did that come from? You know? And then kinda 

Tony: look forward, do you just see people just get rid of a lot of. Heavy, heavy guilt and shame, then yes. Because of that work or that experie. 

Kristin: Wow. Yes. I find that it's very effective.

Oh. Unless the person is somewhat personality disordered, which I have a few of. Yeah. You know, that's harder. That's really hard. . Um, cuz there's that lack of insight and awareness. , yeah. But for the most part, I mean, I have women all see like, Three times and we do that trauma work and it's like thumb cleared, you know?

Okay. Yeah. Doesn't mean they won't have other stuff come up, but like Right. Some of that really intense stuff. Yeah. They, 

Tony: they, they needed permission to know that they were okay or that that happened. Yeah. Or, yeah, because, oh man, look at that one. Because we get our sense of self through external validation of parent.

So a parent is emotionally unavailable , or emotionally immature. Then we never got validation for much of anything, so sometimes, , you know, just having somebody say, Hey, you're okay. , that's all right. You did your best. Yes. Yeah. All that's stuff. But 

Kristin: then getting them to say it to them Yeah.

Themselves, right? Yeah. They have to kind of parent their own self too. Not just from me. Well, you know, I'm saying and it's like I 

Tony: give them permission. Yeah. Okay. And I like that cuz one of the things I'm, I've been writing about, and I haven't really talked about it much, but was the concept of where, so you take a, let's just take the stereotype, you know, cause I have guys that will say, you always talk about the guy being the narcissist, but just for the sake of argument, , the wife gets outta.

a narcissistic relationship. So one could, yeah, one could say that they got into that relationship because they didn't know what they didn't know, and they saw unhealthy. , relationship modeled in as a kid, which would probably come with the, they didn't get the external validation, so they were trying to fix and smooth and be the peacekeeper and they go into the relationship as the one that, you know, I gotta be kind and fix and be whoever I need to be.

Mm-hmm. to keep the peace. Mm-hmm. so no sense of self. And so then they get in the narcissistic relationship and then absolutely don't find themselves because they're continually trying to manage the emotions of a, you know, a 10 year old boy that's in an adult. Suit. Right? And so then they get outta that relationship.

And I've noticed that now when I'm helping that person. Now it says, I say, okay, you get to be whoever you wanna be, but then, yes, but then it's, there're saying, okay, who is that right? And I'm like, oh, no, no, no. This is you now. Uhhuh. , right? But now you're dealing with this adult person who has never had the validation from another human being.

Yes. And that can be a really scary. Yes. 

Kristin: Yes. So I, that makes me think of a couple times that's similar. 

Tony: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah. So I like what you're saying, but then I also make, yes. Oh, you go. Yeah. No, go ahead, . Well, well, I was gonna say, so I saw it's nerding out here. I know, right? But I like what you're saying about though giving 'em permission, because I've been really looking at the fact of, okay, I don't want to step into a another narcissistic.

Space and then say, , I will volunteer to be the person to give you validation. But there is a right. A part where it's like, okay, but they do need to, as Sue Johnson says, in E F T, we we're designed to deal with motion and concert with another human, , but it's not supposed to be the human that's only dealing with us in concert to get their needs met.

You know? Yes. Yeah. Yeah. So, I don't know. Yeah. So we gotta figure out who that person is, but maybe if it's with the permission to then do and be, even if it doesn't feel like. the right thing mean. I would even challenge what that means. So you're right, we're nerding out. Yeah. 

Kristin: Yeah. . Um, well, cause that made, go on another line.

Oh, sorry. No, I just was thinking about how, I'm noticing , the men, the men in the immaturity there in marriage 

Tony: and it's pervasive. Yes. and that's where I feel like that one as a guy and dealing with a lot of that population, Uhhuh, and getting a lot of, I mean , the feedback from the Narcissism podcast is almost overwhelming with the amount of it, which I'm grateful for, but it's people that are pouring their heart out, wanting help because they finally feel heard or have a voice.

And so yeah, the men, the men that reach out to me, and I'm getting more of those, I'm gonna do something with , a men's group, but where they're saying, okay, I know I have this emotional immaturity or , these traits or tendencies. Mm-hmm. , but I don't know how to stop 'em because I feel like, you know, right.

Male brain is hardwired to, , yeah. Things go through this part of the brain that has , the emotional empathy. , it does such a brief stop to get right to the, but what do we do about it? So, and then, yes, I've been talking about like implicit memory or what it feels like to be you based off residue of lived experience year after year.

Mm-hmm. . And so their brain just jumps right to it. So even when I give somebody these four pillars and they're saying, no, I'm aware of my emotional maturity and I wanna change, it's like, it is hard to get 'em to pause long enough to say, tell me more. Or What does that feel like? Because even when they feel like they get it, it's like, No.

Okay, I get it. , so that's hard. , I'm glad she said it, but so now, you know, they go right to solution, which can still leave , the wife feeling unheard. Mm-hmm. and unseen. , and then when I stop the guy and say, man, you are doing great, but can you pause and really sit with that discomfort and try to feel what she's feeling.

That's the part where I watched somebody who's trying hard but go little kid-like, like, I don't want him like, ah-huh. just feels icky, you know? Yeah. Okay. Yes, I scheduled, I, I unfortunately scheduled a client after our interview. No worries. Else we talked. 

Kristin: No, I actually, I also have 

Tony: one. You do you.

Okay. So Kristen, so can people, can people get ahold of you? I mean, I was curious. , that was one of the things that was interesting. I love that , you sent like, Hey, I've got a story. And I, and now I feel like people are gonna listen to this and say, I would like to talk to her. So, or I mean, are you, oh, that's nice.

Yeah. Do you feel like you are open to people reaching out? . , yeah, sure. Okay. So , do you want 'em to contact you through my stuff or do you want, do you have a website or email? I can 

Kristin: just email me. Ok. I mean, , I have a website. My website's just Kristen Hill Therapy. Perfect. Okay. , then I have an email, I think, and your assistant, I think has it too, but, okay.

, kristen health therapy gmail.com. Perfect. 

Tony: Okay, so I'll put that in the show notes and then, , please come back on, , let's nerd out again. Oh yeah, that,, that was fun. Yeah, I love it. That was a lot of fun. 

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