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

People often stay in relationships with narcissistic or emotionally immature partners in hopes that it will be better in the long run for the kids. Unfortunately, staying can often send the exact opposite message. Tony reads another poem from his private women's Facebook group and a letter from the son of a narcissistic father. He then shares Karyl McBride's article "How Narcissistic Parenting Can Affect Children" https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-legacy-of-distorted-love/201802/how-narcissistic-parenting-can-affect-children Karyl is the author of the book "Will I Ever Be Good Enough?: Healing the Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers" https://amzn.to/40P1ZdT

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

Narcissistic Mothers Transcript

Hey everybody. Welcome to episode 68 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 one that I would be just so grateful that you, if you will go check that out, is the Waking Up to Narcissism premium question and answer podcast. So the links for all of the above will be in the show notes. Just look for a, it's a link tree slash Virtual Couch. And then that has links to everything, including marriage course, marriage workshop, Instagram accounts and TikTok and all those sorts of things. But let's get to today's topic. I want to start with another poem that comes from my women's private Facebook group. 

I wish I was a poet. I wish I was creative and thought in the ways that the people that are sharing their talents around this difficult topic of narcissism and emotional immaturity. So I'm going to start with a poem and then, boy, today, we're going to talk about the effects of narcissism and extreme emotional immaturity on children and someone in the group, they had a teenage son write a letter to their dad and they said that they were okay if we just kept the name out of it, anonymous, and shared that on the podcast and it's powerful. And then I found a really good article by someone that has done some amazing work with narcissism and emotional immaturity. Carol McBride. She's a licensed marriage and family therapist and she's the author of a book called “Will I ever be good enough? Healing the daughters of narcissistic mothers”. And I'll have the link to that in the show notes as well. If you just read the reviews alone, it just speaks to people that weren't even aware of the effect of having a narcissistic parent and specifically in our system, mother had on their life. So let's get to the show. Let me start with this poem from one of the women in the group and she titled it, “Let me go”.

“Let me go, release me. Let me be on my way. And no, there's not one bit of me that would willingly stay. You revealed to me a part of you I've not seen before, and I'll never forget. It was cold contemptuous, a looming shadow of terrifying threat. You acted fast at the start, setting me up for this gradual fall. Conditioning my mind. So I couldn't think clearly at all. Confusion and self doubt became the biggest parts of me. You took my freedom, stripped away my self esteem. It was inevitable. Impossible to see. You know, I'd never hit you is what you would always say is that reassuring. I wondered in a hazy fog of dismay. Silently. I thought if you did, at least I would understand this underlying feeling that somehow I was under your command. You worked relentlessly. I was questioning myself every single day. Pieces of me were being chipped at gradually floating away. I started not to recognize the person I saw in the mirror. The truth is I was too trusting, too naive even to consider. Why would a person want to do this to another human? Dismantled their brain. Keep them prisoner in a state of delusion. Surely only a person who's hurting to the very depth of their core. As you like to remind me often to fix me, the body keeps the score. But the pieces of me, I thought had gone, were waiting for me somewhere else. 

I was forming another version of me with a stronger sense of self. I could see glimmers of her and momentary flashes. It took some time, but she started to emerge rising from the ashes. I'm not asking you to let me go. I'm telling you I'm on my way. And whilst I'm edit, you'll never have another opportunity to make me obey. I'm sorry, you have so much pain that you chose to act as you do. But for me, I'll no longer take part in your play.”

The taming of the Shrew. I think we can just let that one sit there on its own, but it just speaks so beautifully to just the awakening of, that it's okay to have your own thoughts and opinions and to recognize how unhealthy that control and manipulation is in a relationship. And, I will beat this drum every chance I get that that is not part of a healthy human relationship. You're allowed to have your own thoughts and opinions. And if you are continually trying to figure out how to negotiate the complicated nature of trying to communicate with someone else at the risk of who you are and your own self-development, then, welcome, welcome to the podcast. And in this, getting your, in essence, your PhD and personality disorders and extreme emotional immaturity. And it can be difficult and the process can be lengthy. But there is hope there, there is absolute hope. Let me jump right to this letter. I'm going to read this letter from a son, a teenage son that again, was given full permission to share on the podcast and share with my women's group in emotionally immature relationships or narcissistic relationships. And then we're going to talk about narcissism and the effect on kids. The person in the group said that her son who is 18 sent this to her to get her thoughts on it. And she said she bawled. She went downstairs. She bawled some more while hugging him and telling him how sorry she was, that he had to deal with this. 

She said that she was racked with guilt, that she didn't know how bad it was. And then she said, I asked if I could share this with a group. And he agreed as long as it was anonymous. And then I had asked permission to share on the podcast as well. But I believe the comment that I made to her even in the group was I'm so sorry that she feels the way that she did. But she truly did not know what she did not know. And I believe was 100% trying her best because this whole process of awakening to this, it can be really difficult because none of us want to think that we ever put our kids in a position where they weren't allowed to grow and thrive and emotionally mature because the people that are waking up to this and themselves have to come to this realization of what that's been like for them to even start to understand what that's been like for their kids. And this is where I just, I implore you to give yourself grace beyond anything else, because if you are listening to this, if you're starting to do your homework, if you're starting to recognize and learn the things you didn't know that you didn't know, then you are changing the dynamic and the pattern in your family, there's no doubt about that. And your kids will appreciate that. And it may take a while and some will be like this letter that I'm going to read. And they're gonna, they're gonna really understand that boy you weren't aware of what you weren't aware of just as they weren't as well. And so the fact that you are starting to open up to this will give them a voice because you're going to be a safer place for them to be able to share and express their feelings and emotions. 

So here's the letter. And the son said for dad, been working on this, let me know what you think. And then it had the crying face emojis. I mean, you can tell that, that he's saying, okay. You know, here we go. We'll see how this, how this goes. So the letter that he wrote, the teenage son said, “I hate you. I think you should know that. I've thought about you a lot recently, actually, and I realized something. I have no happy memories with you. Everyone I have, there's a sense of fear or guilt or anger or something along those lines that pops up. I avoid you now, because anytime I speak to you, there's an inescapable feeling of rage that boils up.” So if I just pause, I wasn't going to commentate on the letter itself, but even this teenage boy and boys that, that most teenage boys, like to watch cartoons, eat cereal, play video games and compartmentalize. So the fact that his own body keeps the score is pretty phenomenal. That even when he's in the same room, he has that inescapable feeling of rage that boils up. So back to the letter. Like I said, “there's no happy memories. You know what I do remember? I remember you telling me not to wear my favorite color to school because it was a girly color.” And he said, “literally it was red. I remember you commanding me from the couch to refill your whiskey glass. I remember you driving 80 to 90 miles an hour on gravel roads at night drunk with me and others in the car as you swerved all over, not being scared for myself and the others safety. I remember you blocking the doors out of the house, stealing my keys. So I couldn't get away from you. I remember walking miles down a driveway in boots with no socks to get away from you so [the mom] could drive over an hour to come and get me. I remember you threw me around into the walls of the house. I remember you throwing me into the bathtub when I was younger because I accidentally woke others up before school. I remember the sound of you screaming in my face and I could smell your nasty breath from it. I remember the emotional manipulation that you put me through. You made me feel guilty for seeing who you are. And as I got older and I learned more, you got angrier. I remember you playing with my emotions to make me compete in sports year after year, when it was clear that I didn't enjoy those particular sports and the list goes on and on. Some thinking about all these things. And I realized that you never saw me as a human being and you still don't. You have no sense of respect or love for me, I'm nothing more than an extension of yourself and your eyes. You made me do the things that you wanted me to do my whole life with no regard for what I wanted. I realized that what you wanted so badly for me to be with something that you were. I realized that you wanted so badly for me to be something because you're nothing, you're a liar, a manipulator and an abuser, nothing more. You wanted to parade me and my siblings around like prize possessions to make up for the fact that you've done nothing inherently good your whole life. You want to throw it in mom's face, you've got more money than her, and you can afford to buy all these things, but you still don't manage to pay your child support on time because you don't give a crap about us. Which sucks because your money is the only thing you're good for. I've also realized through all of this that you don't love me. And that the only reason you say it so much is to make up for the fact that you don't and to try to convince yourself that you do. You're a pathetic father, a sad man, any decent man is supposed to protect his children and loved ones, not be the person that endangers and hurts them. I'm done talking to you even after all these years, you're still putting on an act for everybody else. You still want to portray yourself as the almighty loving father and take credit for everything you didn't do. And then deny the blame for everything you did. Do I see your whole act of getting quotes, changing? Out in public, but you're still the same miserable, horrible person when it really comes down to it. And when you're behind closed doors, don't respond to this. Don't try talking to me. I'm done with it. Just sit this, read it and sit in it.” 

So you can feel that emotion. And I'm trusting that if you are already here and listening to this podcast, that there isn't judgment at all on that letter, that there's empathy, compassion. You can feel the strength and the, just the anger and the power and the just trying to see someone take control of their life. And at 18 to have to have this kind of awareness over some human being, you know, you hear that concept of an old soul and sometimes it sounds like it's pretty cool. Like this 16 year old is going to fire up a bass guitar and play jazz, like that's your old soul, but really an old soul is somebody that has not been able to really find their sense of self as a kid. And they've been having to figure out how to survive and how to cope and how to not get in trouble and how to protect siblings sometimes. And how to just say, man, there's nothing I can do right now. I gotta get out. Instead of just being a kid and being a teenager and just caring about school and relationships and movies and all the things that a teenager is missing out on because they have to grow up and they have to protect and they have to learn to read the room and manage others expectations. So I'm just, I'm grateful that he took the time to write this, that he shared it with his mom, that his mom shared it with the group. And so I often find myself getting asked questions about children and co-parenting with a narcissist and staying in the relationship. So that at least they have a mom or a dad, whoever is the more emotionally immature. 

And I try to, I feel like, tiptoe around this because I don't know what divorce is like. Because I am, I'm still married. My parents didn't divorce. And but I work in this world of divorce and it's easy for me to say that in these emotionally immature relationships, that when somebody gets out of that emotionally immature relationship and finds themselves, that they also become a completely different person and the way that they show up with their kids. And when a kid gets their own sense of self through external validation. That then when they, that you can really reverse the tide of who that kid is or what it feels like to be them. If you become this, not just a safe place where they can then dump and share emotions about the more emotionally immature parent. But where you can actually start to build that secure attachment with them so they can go out and explore and be, and do and know that they have a safe place to come back to. And that your interaction with them isn't constantly talking about, hey, watch out or things, you, you know, make sure you don't do this, or I understand, I understand how frustrated he is, but if it's more about, hey, how was your day? And what was that like? And how's your job going? And what do you want to be when you grow up? And what's that relationship like? And what do you like about this boy or this girl? And I mean, that's the way you build a real relationship. Not trying to continually figure out, okay, how do we all manage this? How do we see how we approach mom or how we approach dad, whoever the more emotionally immature person is. 

So on that note, I want to get into an article that I really do appreciate. And the article is from Psychology Today and it's titled “How Narcissistic Parenting Can Affect Children.” And this is from Carol McBride. She's got a PhD in clinical psychology. And then she again is the author of this book that is highly recommended. The book is called, “Will I ever be good enough? Healing the daughters of narcissistic mothers.” She's also a licensed marriage and family therapist. And she has 30 traits of how narcissistic parenting affects children. So I'm going to read just a couple of paragraphs that she has as part of this article. And then I'm going to go through that list. And I'm sure that I'll comment on some of those, if not all of those how. How narcissistic parenting affects the children. She says, why does it matter if a parent is a narcissist, how does that hurt a child? She said, you might be asking this question. If you're a person that is currently co-parenting with a narcissistic ex, someone raised by a narcissistic parent or one who is in a relationship currently with a narcissist, or if you're a divorce professional working on a case that involves a narcissistic parent. 

And I'll put that out there right now. I now understand a lot of therapists listen to Waking Up to Narcissism. I'm grateful for that. I am so grateful for the ones that reach out and want to be a part of the women's group or one that would love to talk about this. A group of therapists so that we can start to really address this population. But I also have a thread in the group this talking about experiences in therapy that have been detrimental because if someone, if you are going to a professional who is not familiar with emotional immaturity or narcissistic personality disorder or traits or tendencies, then it can actually be, I feel pretty detrimental because you're often being told that you're just buying into the hype of narcissism and the, what will, what are you doing and what can you do? And just stand up to him or her, just tell them. And all of those things are things that can actually end up making things worse because you're engaging. You're letting the person see, you're letting the narcissist see your buttons to push and they will do so. Carol says, given my research and clinical experience, I want to provide some education and awareness about how this disorder hurts children. She said first, let me explain it. Narcissistic personality disorder is misunderstood when applied to someone who is just boastful, arrogant and all about themselves. 

So all these traits are annoying and not fun to be around. Narcissism is a deeper, more destructive disorder that has devastating effects on the people in relationships with the individual. It's a difficult disorder to treat. And some do believe it's untreatable. And she said the cornerstones of the disorder or lack of empathy. And the inability to tune into the emotional world of others. And I am hearing, I don't want to be dramatic, but on a fairly regular basis, that from those who don't understand what narcissism really is or emotional immaturity, is that just the fact of the, that the word is being used, causes a visceral reaction and people tune out. And I've also been told pretty regularly that the shifting I have been intentional on shifting the word narcissism to emotional immaturity and that, yeah, that's a lot more palatable. And then we can all take a look at the areas where we are emotionally immature. And then the key difference is the, are the people that are willing to then sit with the discomfort of the things that they are facing. And that, that is uncomfortable for them as a human being or as an adult. And then are they willing to self confront and do something? So then when somebody will inevitably, maybe even right now, the kind person is saying, okay, I got it. Tony finally gets it. He's telling me I'm the narcissist. You are not. If you are listening to this because you are trying to do something, you are trying, you’re obviously uncomfortable and you're out there seeking help, even though you're just, you're uncomfortable. 

So that is, this on this road of empathy. And so you are literally tuning into the emotional world of others because you're worried about how you're responding to your maybe narcissistic spouse in this. What we now know is a reactive issue, a reactive abuse issue, or you're worried about, am I doing damage to my kids? So you've already broken the rules of being a narcissist. That you are not lacking empathy. You're maybe overly empathetic because you are just, what is wrong with me? I gotta figure this out. And then you absolutely are able to tune into the emotional world of others, maybe even your tuning fork is on high alert that if you've ever used a tuning fork, which I haven't, that might've made no sense. If we go back to Carol's list, she has a list of how narcissistic parenting affects children. The child won't feel heard or seen. The child's feelings and reality will not be acknowledged. And I just did an episode a week or so ago talking about the emotional abandonment that is there in our childhood, that then we bring into our adulthood that we don't even recognize is not normal. And that is if you are trying to manage your relationship with your parent as a child, then there is a high, I mean, I'm going to say it's pretty much a given. That you, your emotions are not being acknowledged and you are not being asked to be taken on your train of thought about how you're feeling or what you're thinking about a situation. It's, if you are trying to express emotion, you're probably getting a lot of either just indifference, a flat affect or a, not right now, or will you need to get over it, or how do you think that makes me feel, or you got the version of emotional immaturity or narcissism where a parent then says, no, I get it. 

Let me tell you stories of my high school days and how I overcame it. And so the fact that if you look at how great I am, and then if you aren't doing the same, then it shows that you are not as good as I am. And then if you don't listen to me, then I can say, well, I told you. And then if you try to do what I'm asking you to, because it won't feel authentic to you, then I get to say, you're not even doing it. So it's a no, it's a no win situation. When you're trying to even express yourself as a kid, to an emotionally immature/narcissistic parent, the child will be treated like an accessory to the parent rather than a person. The chat will be more valued for what they do, usually for the parent then for who they are as a person. And I think that the letter that this teenager wrote that I read earlier. It starts to feel like that quite a bit. You're valued for what you do. You're only as good as what you do for others. I mean, that is a way you truly lose your sense of self. And that's where the pathologically kind people that find themselves in again, what Rosenberg so well says, the human magnet syndrome is that you are in this place of self-love deficit. So you feel like you are only as good as what you do. And so what do you do you continue to try to do for others to try to, to get them to love you? And that, that is working absolutely counter to the fact that you are of worth and lovable as a human being. 

And so if you are trying to get people to recognize or acknowledge you or love you, then that is you're not in a healthy relationship. The child will not learn to identify or trust their own feelings and will grow up with crippling self doubt. Here's what, this is what I tried to identify last week is that if you're not allowed to explore your feelings and emotions, if you're continually told that they're wrong or not now, or just get over it or don't worry about it. Then you are continually given this message that your feelings, you don't even understand them. They're wrong. And look at how that makes me feel. So now all of a sudden, I can't trust my own gut. I can't think on my own. And what am I doing now? I'm now actually going to start going to this person to ask for their advice or their opinion or what they think I should do. And they don't have my best, they don't have what's good for me in mind. It's oh, well, what can I do? How can I manipulate this at the moment? 

And that's that form of, of really, it's a form of betrayal trauma, where you're starting to go to this person. If you're a kid to your parent, or if you're a husband or wife to your more emotionally narcissistic spouse, and you're saying, hey, here's my heart. And, I need some help in managing emotions because we are inherently designed to deal with emotion in concert with another human being. It's part of our attachment. But then that other human being is taking advantage of that opportunity and manipulating it for their own gain. The child will be taught that how they look is more important than how they feel, because when there is a real lack of knowing or understanding your kid, and if they are only as good as the things they do or how they make you feel as an emotionally immature parent, then they need to look the part they need to look the part of, if you look a certain way, then that makes me look better as a parent. The child will be fearful of being real and will instead be taught. That image is more important than authenticity. And this is part of that, when I talk about abandonment and attachment issues that we bring into our relationships is that I'm so afraid that if I am being real. That then I may lose this other person. Now if a kid grows up with a secure attachment to their parent, and if they know that it is absolutely okay to be them, whatever that looks like, whatever they like to do. And again, I feel like this is where the emotionally immature person's listening to this, which I'm sure they haven't, they wouldn't have made it 24 minutes in at this point. 

But it's like, oh, okay. So if they just want to go shoot heroin between their toes all day, then I got to support that. If you're at that point right now, you've already been looking to pick apart this entire podcast. So there's not much that I can do to convince you. But if they want to go be a, I don't know if they want to go be an explorer and then a pirate and then an astronaut, and then they want to become a surgeon and then they want to raise bunnies and then they want to, I want to go on that journey with them the whole way because if any of that becomes a, I don't think that would be good for you, champ. Why am I saying that? Because I have no idea what it feels like to be them. So don't be the person that gets in the way of the hopes and dreams of your spouse or your kid. Because the reality is that doesn't mean that they're going to all of a sudden, want to be a pirate, astronaut who raises bunnies. The thing is that, if they feel like, oh, it's okay for me to say that I want to do that. Actually, I don't know if I really even want to. But if I'm continually told no, there aren't even pirates anymore, whatever that looks like. Well then what, what do I feel like? Okay. I feel kind of dumb. And I don't know if I'm going to keep bringing my hopes and dreams to you as my parents. Because you're shooting those down. And what is, I had someone in my office recently and all the person said was they wanted to look at going to a particular grad school and the parent immediately said, that's too difficult. And I just thought, wow, that was within seconds of this person sharing something that no doubt they've been thinking about for quite some time. And then they were met with their parent who doesn't even really know. Hey take me on your train of thought. Tell me more about that. And I just said, no, you wouldn't be able to do that. 

And in essence, implying that, hey, that's really difficult. I don't think you can do difficult things and you're not very smart. So then this person just said, okay, I guess I will not open up about anything again. The child will be taught to keep secrets, to protect the parent and the family boy triangulation. Hey, don't tell your mom, don't tell your dad. That is not a healthy way to live because then the child is now again, you know, feeling like anything they say, boy, am I split? Am I going to get anybody in trouble? Is this, wait, is dad gonna get mad at me because I said something to mom or vice versa. And the child will not be encouraged to develop their own sense of self. It goes right back to that secure attachment. They're trying to figure out what they can do to then, please me. I was going to say I'm going to be dramatic and throw out a very controversial thing and it's not that, but I was with one of my adults, two of my daughters over the weekend and we'd gone to help paint my daughter Mackie’s new salon. So as a matter of fact, plug two, if you are, if you live in the Provo/Orem area of Utah, then look up at beauty by Mackie on Instagram. And she's an amazing cosmetologist. But I had some of my nieces and nephews there while we were doing this and it was late at night and it's just so fun to talk to the kids these days and listen to how old I sound. But when we were talking, they were saying, you know, a couple of them are graduating college and they're not 100% sure what they want to do. And they were almost expressing that, like I know, I should know. And I said, oh, you know, if I can just speak from some experience as a human being and throw the therapist card in there as well. 

I feel like it's very rare that somebody at the age of 22 says, I think I know what I want to do for the next 50 years of my life. I've made this choice over the last two or three as an emotionally immature individual. But in reality if you are just on the path of just trying to learn and do and be that then you're going to develop your sense of self. Now, the controversial point I made was that I just threw out that I've worked with enough people that are people like lawyers and doctors and some of those professions that you've had to spend a tremendous amount of schooling on. And just, I'm just talking about anecdotal evidence that I have as a therapist for the first 15, 16, 17 years. And talking with some of those professionals and then I'm getting them in their mid thirties to early forties and their midlife crisis phase. And that's because when we sometimes dig back and go deep, they want it to be the let's just take a doctor for example. As long as they can remember, but when you go back and look at why. That it was because whenever they said, I want to be a doctor, you watched the parents beam because boy, talk about external validation. And then whenever you talk to your friends and if your friends saying, I don't even know what I want to do. And if you say I want to be a doctor, then all of a sudden, everybody kind of lights up and like, oh, that's cool. And then if you're a kid. Oh, you're gonna be so rich and you're gonna get to do all these cool things. So then the person got the validation and then that might've carried them all the way, even through medical school for some, it hasn't for some, they get two or three years in and then at that point, they're in a crippling amount of debt and they feel stuck. They really do. 

Or others, I remember talking to a podiatrist a long time ago. And he was talking about we're looking at scheduling and he said, I can't come in on, it was like Tuesdays or Thursdays because those were surgery days. And I said, oh my gosh, what is that like? I mean, that's just gotta be crazy. And then he just said you know, he's like after about the 2000 at the time that I released the plantar fascia, he just said, yeah, not so crazy. They all kind of look the same. And I just thought, oh, to that person that was thinking, this'll be amazing. They just have foot lined up after foot lined up and slice cut into that release of a plaintiff. Release the fascist to get rid of the plantar fasciitis. And so he said, I don't mind surgery. It's still a little bit cooler than just the office days, but the only point that I'm making is that boy, when you know, or you think, you know, that young, a lot of times that's because of that, I believe that external validation from parents. So the child won't be encouraged to develop their own sense of self. They may want to then say the things that will get them, if they are just truly being an extension of their emotionally immature/narcissistic parent. 

Then, if they say I'm going to be whatever and the parent goes, yeah, that's, that's my boy. Then they're going to be driven more to do that. Even if that isn't something they feel passionate about. The child will feel emotionally empty and not nurtured. The child will learn not to trust others because boy, if you've grown up in an emotionally immature household, there are going to be times where you have said something and you felt like that was in confidence, but then your narcissistic parent has then told somebody else that is that when it happens so often. And it's because that narcissistic parent in that moment is getting the validation off of you giving them a secret, promise you won't say anything, mom. And it's like, hey, you bet champ. And then as soon as I, mom's talking to her sister, well, no, I just told her because she lives in a different state. Or then telling a neighbor like, no, I told them, but they don't, I mean, they don't run in the same circles as you do. So it's like, oh, I'll absolutely keep your promise. I mean, until I don't, that's basically the creed of the narcissist in a sense. The child will learn. And that's not trusting. The child will feel used and manipulated. And I feel like that's where you start. Getting the vibes of highly sensitive people or the body keeps the score. The child will be there for the parent rather than the other way around as it should be. And that's what starts to create that anxious attachment vibe is that when the child needs the parent from an emotional standpoint, and the parent is, it's not a good time, which I, and I know we're all human, but I want to say which should not be the answer because if you're the parent, then I would love for you to model the fact that, hey for you, now is a good time because this now isn't about me. It's about the tiny human being that I've helped create. 

In that scenario then you're going to be there for your kid because if it's the other way around, that's where you start seeing this anxious attachment show up in adult relationships where you've said all I ever wanted to do was feel heard and understood. And then when the spouse finally says, okay, I hear you. And I want to understand you. It can feel emotionally overwhelming and engulfing, and it really can. The child's emotional development will be stunted. The child will feel criticized and judged rather than accepted and loved. And that's again where we have this vibe where we say, hey, champ, you can come and talk to me about anything. And then you come and say, I think I want to quit school. Or I think I want to join the army or I think I want to, and if the parent is saying, okay. That's just ridiculous. Why do you know how much time and effort I put into your schooling or if I really didn't teach you well enough to want to continue to be an attorney like me. And so when you're putting that vibe out again, it is all about you, not your kid. And so in that scenario, then the kid's going to feel criticized and judged. The child will grow frustrated, trying to seek love approval and intention and attention to no avail. Which will often then lead them to looking for external sources to provide them with the love approval and attention. 

And I'll just talk about, I was speaking at a conference not long ago. And somebody asks a question about, all the kids, everybody's smoking pot these days was the way that the question was put. And I just said, here's the challenge. And, and I'm with them, I'm with them on that. I feel like I still grew up in a time where, you know, that was the stoner. And I don't know what it's like to be a kid that is in their early twenties that has in essence grown up within most of the states, it's legal. So that's a whole different ball game. But I mentioned that I often talk with kids when they were feeling judged by their peers and especially if you're, I work in an area where there are a lot of people that are part of a religious community. And so then if that religious community says, hey, we're all together, we're all a community. But now within that community, let me do some judging. You drink energy drinks or your shorts are too short. Are you swear yeah, we're all the same. Except for now. I'm going to judge you about those things. And I said but pot, that world has no respect for the people that they're, we don't care what you're wearing or what you're saying or what you're doing because we all have this, this shared sense of purpose, which is, it's sad in that regard. But so in that scenario, though, if they're going to find love, approval and attention and not, if that is not provided in the home. Then they will seek that elsewhere. The child will grow up, not feeling good enough. The child won't have a healthy role model for emotional connection which then starts leading into the, when I say we don't have the tools from the factory to be able to communicate in a healthy way or to hold boundaries. Because, I feel like, I want to say, just remember that if you have grown up with a secure attachment as a child, and now you're a teenager and you know that you're okay because your parent has never continued to, I mean, they haven't hammered you with, I can't believe you said that, right? 

I don't, you know what, that, how that impacts me, if you just be able to say and feel and be, and now you go on a date and somebody says, oh, I don't think you should do that in college. Then your radar is going to be off the charts. You're gonna think, okay. I wasn't asking you for your opinion on what I should do with my career. But if you've been judged and manipulated and not heard or seen. And so you've tried to recognize, man, how do I show up? So I don't get this person mad. And then you say, you know, I want to be a, I don't know, computer programmer. And then that person, the person that you're sitting across the table from who you don't even really know. And they say, oh boy I've heard that those computer programmers now work long hours or are they sleeping all the time? Or, you know, you have to drink four liters of Mountain Dew every day. And they rot their teeth. I don't know, whatever it would be. But then if you as a person, then go, yeah, maybe I don't want to be one. And maybe I don't want to be a computer programmer. That's insane. I want the person who wants to be the computer program or showing up on a date. And if they've grown up and their parent has said, what do you want to do? And they've already explored pirates, they've already looked at astronauts, but they kind of found a sense of purpose with computer programming. 

So then the parent may not know anything about computer programming, but that doesn't mean that then, oh, you think you're better than me or smarter than me, but it's a holy cow. This is incredible that they're already finding and enjoying something. Let me get them all the computer stuff they need. And let me now ask them questions like, hey, what are you working on? And what does that like in, How hard is that and what do you love about it? Imagine being that parent. Now that computer programmer goes out into the dating world. And if anybody says, I don't think you should do that. They're saying, I don't understand why you're telling me what you think I should do. I mean, we're just here trying to order appetizers at this point and get to know each other, not tell each other what to do. Which I think that's the big key there. Which then leads into, she says the child will not learn appropriate boundaries for relationships. The child won't learn healthy self care, but instead will be at risk of becoming codependent. Taking care of others to the exclusion of taking care of self, not wanting to rock the boat. But not wanting to then question my sense of self, because that's what it's been like to be me growing up in a home where the parent was even letting you know that they did things better than you. When they were your age, the child will have difficulty with the necessary individuation from the parent when he or she grows older.

I was talking with somebody recently and we were talking about the enmeshment that they felt as they, after they got married, where their parents still felt, they wanted to say, I don't know, you don't seem like yourself. And this person was saying, I actually feel better than I've felt before with this connection, with my new spouse. But the narcissistic parent, they were not in essence saying, okay, we have done all we can do. And we have created a secure attachment with our, with this person. And now we hand them into the world of marital relationships. This individuated person and they are now going to go now, go, go and couple and thrive and start to form a secure attachment with your spouse. And then you guys will live happily forever and we're over here. And if you need us, let's go on vacation together. No, it's hey, let's talk every, you know, a couple of times a week and let me just make it all about myself. And let me start to tell you that you don't seem like yourself. When in reality, that means that you don't understand who I am. The child will get a mix of mixed and crazy making messages of do well. Make me proud as an extension of the parent, but don't do too well and don't outshine me because then you're going to think that you're better than me. 

I hope my kids turn out better than me, please. That would be a wonderful thing. Because, you know, we want to, I hope we want to advance those generations and every generation gets better. That would be a wonderful thing. I don't need to say, I always have felt like I was better than all of my kids. That's crazy. If the child out shines the parent, then they may experience jealousy from the parent. The child is not taught to give credit to self when deserved. Yeah, one of the things that drives me crazy is this concept around it's so bad to be proud of yourself, pride is bad. No, there's a healthy ego and healthy ego changes the world. Healthy ego is based on real life experience. If you can help somebody find the real sense of self and security, and then they start to go and do and achieve and explore, they change the world. But if that person is always worried about, I don't want to make anybody mad. And yeah, maybe I don't want to do that then, they're taught to burn all these emotional calories. Just trying to figure out how to manage emotion, relationships around them and trying to figure out is it okay to be me? I waited, I don't even know who I am versus the person that has been given the secure attachment. And again, they are going out and doing, and being, and finding and discovering and loving and connecting. 

Because that will, without that the child, again, if they haven't been taught to give credit where their own credit is due or self deserved, ultimately they'll start to suffer from a level of post traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety, in adulthood. The child will grow up believing that he or she is unworthy and unlovable, because if my parent can't love me, then who will be that one that resonates. If you create that secure attachment and that love with your kid. And they know that they are worthy of love, then they don't, are they going to be less likely to find themselves in relationships where they're trying to prove their worth or their love, they just get to be and do. The child will often become either a high achiever or a self sabotage or are both high achievers, because I'll be darned if I'm going to, that's the only way I got my validation. So I got to go above and beyond and I got to go overboard. And then I have to even puff myself up because I want to make sure that everybody knows that I'm good. Look you'll love me now, if I'm really special, right. And this one's hard that the last one that she talks about as a child will need trauma, recovery and want to reparent themselves in adulthood. Carol then concludes her article by saying, being raised by a narcissistic parent is emotionally and psychologically abusive. And it causes debilitating long lasting effects on children. It's often missed by professionals because the narcissist or emotionally immature person can be charming in their presentation. Displaying an image of how they wish to be seen. 

Now behind closed doors, the children feel the suffocation of self and struggle with loneliness and pain. The narcissist is not accountable for their own mistakes or behaviors. So the child believes that they are to blame. That they've flunked childhood. Sad, but I appreciate the way she says that, she said having worked as a mental health provider with thousands of children, as well as the adult children of narcissistic parents. She said, I see the above symptoms over and over again. And, boy, amen to that. I agree. And this is what I love that she said, because it's, I think this says this so well, the lifestyles differ and the stories differ, but they all have the same emotional banners and it's quite a list and it takes serious recovery work to get better and feel better. So she said, if you are the other parent or part of the extended family and are trying to ward off the effects of a narcissistic parent, then you'll have to double do it. You'll have to do double duty as the responsible one. And the best approach is to parent with empathy, the antithesis of narcissism. If you are a divorced professional working with a case that involves, help the kids. By first really understanding the dynamics of the disorder, don't minimize it. Make sure the children are in therapy and learning assertiveness skills to use with the parent who does not emotionally tune into them. Put the kids first. 

And I feel like in the work that I do, it really is approached by the pathologically kind person with empathy. The, and to the system narcissism. And help that person realize that they need to understand the dynamics of the disorder. Even if it's just along the lines of emotional immaturity, don't minimize it. And, and then if I'm talking to them, hopefully they are in therapy. And they're learning these skills. Now, the place where I feel a little bit different is that learning those assertiveness skills can be okay. But sometimes that's going to be just from a place of, I need to practice being heard and seen, even if I recognize that it's not going to be the case, but it's going to start to help define what it feels like to be you. 

So this one resonated. If you, if you feel like this would help anyone in their situation, feel free to forward it. If you have additional questions for me, reach out at contact@tonyoverbay.com or get ahold of me through Instagram at, I think Tony Overbay underscore LMFT or TikToK, if that continues to be a thing, the therapy account just cracks me up because it's, so it's so funny to watch, uh, just little random, uh, uh, videos that can be a minute, two minutes, go from just a few thousand views to all of a sudden you just watch one, just kind of take off for no reason. And then you refresh every hour and it's another. I don't know, 20, 30,000 views. And it's just interesting to see what people connect with, most of the stuff does have to do with traits and tendencies around narcissism or emotional immaturity. So it's just fascinating. Okay. Have an amazing week. And I will see you next time on Waking Up to Narcissism. 

People in relationships with narcissists, or extremely emotionally immature people, are often convinced, coerced, or controlled into believing that certain universal rules or commandments must be followed to continue in the relationship. In healthy relationships, both people are free to express how they do things and their likes and dislikes. Then if a change is necessary, it comes from mutually respectful conversations. Tony turned to the private women’s Facebook group to receive dozens of rules and commandments that many people kept to keep the peace in the home or because, over time, they believed that these were “universal truths.” It can take time to unlearn many of these rules, and they can even affect future relationships. Tony shares many rules and how to avoid them playing a negative role in relationships.

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

Transcript

Hey everybody. Welcome to episode 66 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 a few others, Murder On the Couch, true crime meets therapy. Which maybe by the time you hear this, it is being queued up and ready to be released. And the best way to find out what is coming next is please sign up for my newsletter. If you go to the show notes, there's a link tree link that will say link dot tree, something like that slash virtual couch and sign up for the newsletter. And you can also send me questions. I've been told that there might be a little bit of a challenge with the contact form, but if so, just send me an email at contactth@tonyoverbay.com. And I want to know your questions. I want your stories. I want some poetry. We're going to talk about that today. And, I also want to encourage you to look in the show notes as well and find the Waking Up to Narcissism premium question and answer podcast. It's 4.99 a month. And those proceeds do go to help people that are dealing with emotionally immature/narcissistic relationships, everything from paying for some therapy courses, programs, hopefully if the funds can grow to be able to help people with everything from legal expenses and moving costs. Because, a lot of times, financial abuse is one of the things that keeps people in unhealthy relationships and it is an absolute form of control. And that's some of the things that just, it breaks my heart. 

So today we're going to talk about the difference between rules and cuts. And, at the time of this recording, I still, for the life of me, want to find some sort of creative title. So if you are listening to this, you have already seen what the title of the episode will be. And you will know if I finally just said, forget it, rules versus cuts. Or if I came up with some clever something around commandments of narcissism or something to that effect, but when we're talking about rules versus cuts and, you'll get some examples of that. A lot of examples of that today from the private women's Facebook group. But there's a poem that I want to read first. And there's a thread in the group that is, it's amazing. It's beautiful. Where a lot of people will share poetry. So I just asked if maybe we could put everything in one place. And so I really feel like this poem. It just encapsulates and captures what those cuts do or what those are like. And then I think that will then help us frame what the rules feel like when you are in these narcissistic or emotionally immature relationships, especially when you wake up to the fact that it's okay for you to have your own opinion. 

And a little foreshadowing, things like a toothpaste tube do not always have to have a flip top, that it can have a turning top as well. And that does not make you a horrible human being if you like one versus the other. So, let me start with this poem and let me get a joke out of the way first, because I think this is, it's a beautiful poem. I think it's touching, people in the group talked about how it really brought a lot of big emotions out. But I was talking with someone else about poetry and the narcissist in their life. And they just, we were making a light-hearted comment about the fact that this person never appreciated the client that was in my office as poetry, because it didn't rhyme. And poetry is okay to not rhyme. So this does not rhyme , and it is powerful, nonetheless. So, let me read this, author unknown, because I want to keep that, keep that confidential. But there are a lot of poems in the group that I want to read over the coming weeks. So we'll do that as well. 

So it says, “I'm lost in your fears. They twist and turn, winding this way in that, then back again, an infinite circle, the lies slide like vines over the forest floor. I trip over the rocks of blame that you throw at my feet. I get peaks of sunlight, but catch only glimpses. The thick branches and leaves shroud the light and crowd the path. I find myself crouching lower and lower, taking up less space to make room for your ego. The night is drawing, but now I see the stars. They are my hopes and dreams. It surprised me when I learned the opposite of love is not hate, but fear. And the more I love, the less I fear. I no longer hack away desperately at your fears. I trace them. And I see them for what they are. Fear of showing yourself, because who you are might not be good enough. Fear of owning your choices, because if you do, you'd have to accept the consequences. Fear of taking off your mask because being vulnerable can leave you open for hurt. Fear of being wrong, because being right gives you a false sense of worth. The more I love and respect myself, the more clearly I see you. Your fears are not for me to hack away. I loosen my grip and climb. My view of this forest path has changed. Where it leads, I do not know. I look around and notice the air is thin up here and I'm afraid of heights, but here my wings can grow. And the light of truth heals me.”

It's beautiful. It really is. And talks about just what it feels like to trip over someone else's ego and to find yourself being small. And I just, I love that analogy of climbing up to the top of the trees and sure, it's going to be scary and you're afraid of heights, but ultimately that is the place where you'll grow. So I'm just really, I appreciate people that have creative talents like that. I feel like that poem, it says more in about two minutes then I'm going to try to communicate to you in the next 30 or 40 minutes with just trying to make sense of things that really just don't make sense. So on that note, there was a post that I thought was a short post that then just ended up bringing so much, so much content. In the group, one of the members said, even though I've been out for almost two years, I find it amazing how many rules I still catch myself following. Tony talks about death by a thousand cuts, but I feel like I've had to live by a thousand rules. I can see it's going to take a long time to figure out what are truly my own choices instead of old programming. And then she said, anybody else struggle with this? Which I can guess everybody that is in this situation, struggles with this. And a couple of people commented and said, they've been out for a year and it's amazing how far they've come, but how many rules they still think about. 

And somebody said, and not feel anxious while you're doing a specific task. And the person commenting there said that they were still in the relationship. So they don't really, they weren't necessarily thinking in terms of looking at the rules that they were now trying to. I don't know, un-attach from. So someone else just said that there are so many rules and that were introduced so passive aggressively, that it's hard to even remember. She said, when we started following the rules and she said she had been separated for almost two years and she was currently going through a divorce. But she said she was getting better at catching them now and slowly working to undo each rule one by one. But that can be really exhausting. And she says, I just asked myself, how do I want to handle this? What works for me? And do I really care about this? And someone else chimed in and said that sometimes they feel like they need to ask for their spouse's input on things if they're not intelligent enough to decide for themselves, and I almost feel like that's where I want to jump in and say, you're an adult. You've been getting along well up to this point in your life. And so it's okay for you to like the things you like and do things the way that you would like to do them. And what can sound so probably off-putting to the pathologically kind person it feels like, well, but then I'm just saying that well, we're going to do it my way. And there's really, there's middle ground. I don't want to just immediately go to this concept of compromise because I think that's where our brain wants to try to make sense of what that would look like. And sometimes we feel like, okay, well, I know what compromise is going to look like. He's going to get his way. So I might as well just acquiesce and give in. 

And it's not that bad anyway. But it's okay to have a conversation around well, we'll get there with some of these examples, but honest to goodness toothpaste lids, there were, you're going to hear some really interesting ones today where the more emotionally immature or narcissistic person just says, this is how it works. And then everybody knows it is not an answer because I will give this example until the cows come home. I still remember someone talking about the concept of common sense. And then I bring up the example of in some countries where a baby sneezes and a parent immediately puts their mouth around that nose and sucks up and spits out. And that's common sense to that person and then to somebody else that might be the most disgusting thing they've ever heard of. And why don't they use a tissue? Yet then for another person using a tissue just seems crazy because why am I wasting tissue paper and I'm going to get it all in my face. And I'm going to walk around. So let's just look at the way that people do things and why they like doing them the way they do. And if we start from there, now we're going to actually have adult mature conversations. Love or control. Not both in an adult relationship. So to the original poster, I had said once again, you're creating content for me and for the world. And I had just said that to anybody seeing this post, let's talk about rules. And I just said, can you share the rules that you heard? And I feel like, okay, we've got death by a thousand cuts, but I don't know, control by a thousand rules, but I really feel like this is something that will resonate. 

So the first person that chimed in with a lot of rules, she said, here are a few rules off the top of my head. Protein is the cornerstone of every meal and must be present. So you can see already where we're going to go, that this is something that is being preached and told. And while there may be some truth in some of the rules, we're open to interpretation. Or, and I know my wife and I talk about this so often that let's just take this one, for example, protein as the staple of every meal. And then it's, who's to say that in a few years, we will find out that the nation is over protein. So being able to make an informed decision is wonderful and being able to also have your choice in that decision is a powerful thing as well. So back to her rules, she said, here are the rules that she had heard. Again, protein, the cornerstone of every meal must be present. If meat wasn't highly visible, it was a constant barrage of complaints and questions. Is there meat in this? Where's the meat? I can't taste the meat. Now someone that is on a plant based diet, then if they are hearing that, sometimes the word meat can literally give a visceral reaction. But then to the person who is saying where's the meat, then they are going to say that the person on a plant-based diet doesn't know what they're talking about. So we can have different opinions. And here's the one I've alluded to two times already. All toothpastes must have a screw on cap instead of a flip cap, regardless of brand. Rationalized by flip caps are messier. If I did happen to buy a flip cap then I would hear comments about it almost daily until it was gone. And I understand that unfortunately, that's the relationship that some people are in, where they feel like, you know, it's not a big deal. I'll get the screw cap. Or whatever that looks like, 

But we're back to that death by a thousand cuts vibe or control by a thousand rules. She said next, we don't waste food in this house. There's the rule. If I needed to throw away rotted expired or moldy food, I had to justify and defend it. So much so that I struggled to throw anything away. She said he would also go through the trash to make sure I wasn't throwing things away without him knowing. So apparently it was very important for him to be the throwaway police or the wasted food police, or fill in the blank, which if we go back to control, I think that's pretty obvious that that's what we're hearing. She said, if I didn't wear a certain color nail polish or I didn't wear a certain nail polish color for over 10 years, because he doesn't like that color. But she said no rhyme or reason. He was also very rigid about my hair length, our kids' hair length. I had to tell him after the fact, if I was getting even a single trim on my hair. Otherwise, I had to promise not to cut too much because the kids needed to have certain lengths of hair. She said the bed must be made at all times unless being slept in, of course. And so if some of you were saying, okay, well, see, you know, it sounds reasonable, but then she goes on to say, this was hard to navigate because even washing the sheets was difficult because if he came home to no sheets on the bed, because they were being washed, he would panic. And I would hear about it for the rest of the night. 

Another common one. If dad is working, then everybody is working. She said, this is present both in my childhood home and my home with my husband. If dad was doing chores, then everyone else had better be doing chores. But she said, the thing is the distribution of work was already highly imbalanced. The rest of us did chores on a regular basis, while dad did them when and if convenient and only sporadically. So when it came to making plans for the holidays, his family came first because he had very close siblings and siblings cannot be apart. Or she said another one. The kids had to read for 30 minutes every night. And again, here's where I think that there's a tie in with death by a thousand cuts. And along with these rules, because somebody will say, well, it doesn't sound so bad. But she said this one was clever because it was hidden behind sound guidance for raising kids. Reading is good. But he would only allow them to read his books. She said the kids were little. At some point in kindergarten or first grade, they were expected to read Tom Sawyer, Treasure Island, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. So she said her kids grew to really hate it. And it was a, like she said, world war three, to get him to compromise because it was all about control. And I think one of the unfortunate things is that this is a point where I would, I would be curious to know what their relationship is with reading at this point in their lives. She said I had to be ready for physical intimacy at his request. It wasn't always granted, but it was an expectation met with pouting in the silent treatment if I said no. She said the kids were only allowed to have dessert on Tuesdays and Fridays. And I hear versions of this one often, and I think it's so interesting. So, let me, let me dig a little deeper here. So again, kids were only allowed to have dessert on Tuesdays and Fridays, but she said it was so rigid in his mind that if someone's birthday was on a day of the week, that was not on treat day, then it was a battle to get them to be flexible on having birthday cake. And she said the same goes for any holidays, if he did compromise, it became about a trade. And this is where I wanted to get into this fine. He said, I'll allow birthday cake on Wednesday. But that means no dessert for the rest of the week. And she said, I had to fight that battle many times. 

So you're here, I imagine a lot of the people that are listening to this content have similar experiences. And if you're someone listening to it and these are the rules that you give someone. And if you're saying well, right, but now is the time, welcome to the world of self confrontation. So if you are saying, everybody knows, but this is the best way. Then I'm grateful that you have found the best way for you. And if you think to yourself, will it just make sense to you or everybody knows? Well, I think I could probably question, I don't know if I was, I was asked, so I know that it's probably not everybody. I know I'm being a little facetious, but I want the people hearing this, that if you're one who has been living by these thousand or 2000 rules, To know that I just, even, this is where I just want to bring that awareness that that's not healthy in a relationship. That relationships are built upon. Tell me more, curiosity. What's your experience? What matters to you? And then eventually we work toward a compromise and I stumble over the word compromise so often because there are so many steps of communication that need to be had before we get the compromise. I understand compromise in a business setting is this art of war negotiation compromise. And, in that point, I think often if people are being real with themselves in a business setting that the compromises that they win, if they get more out of the deal. But I know there's also this belief that they, every, both people want to walk away and feel like they win. And I think there's psychology around that too. Maybe we have to confabulate a narrative that says, oh yeah, this is exactly what I wanted. But in adult human relationships, I'm you know, I'm feeling like I want to say I will grant the concept of compromise and negotiation. 

But it needs to be from a very healthy place of tell me more, what's your experience? Because we'll often find that people don't really care about certain things. Or we'll find that people had completely different experiences growing up, which led to completely different experiences or expectations as an adult. And so we want to have a tool to communicate about these things before we try to work out what that's gonna look like for our family, because inevitably the more alpha, the more dominant, the more direct, the more intense that person is going to most likely get their needs met. And then feel like, okay, good. We agree because the kinder person, the more emotionally sensitive or pathologically kind or highly sensitive person is going to find themselves over and over again, just acquiescing for the sake of, it's not worth the fight. But meanwhile, the message to the person that continually seems to get their way is that I'm right. But it's really, I am too controlling to really hear and understand my partner. Another person said that when I was married, I was told that we had to have sex at least every 48 hours to keep him satisfied. So he wouldn't look for other avenues of relief. She said, I followed this for the first few years of our marriage. It didn't work. I had to learn that this was his issue and not mine to fix. 

And, you know, at times I don't know why, but I feel like, I mean, I'm a marriage and family therapist. I've seen well over a thousand couples and a sex therapist talked about this all the time, but then I don't talk a lot about it on the podcast. And I think I confessed it on one of the podcasts that for some reason, I still imagine that a mom is playing this while the kids are in the van. And all of a sudden I'm talking about it trying to do these code words around intimacy. When in reality, this is one that I think is very, very poignant and timely. And I hear on a regular basis, that is not what I hear in emotionally healthy relationships. And that is the fact that from a guy saying to his wife, what am I supposed to do? Do you know how bad it hurts down there? If I don't have a release every 48 hours or 72 hours. And then a guy will then be in actual visceral pain. Oh my gosh, you have to relieve me. And, and I worry. And I feel confident that that is just really an unhealthy way. For somebody to get rid of their discomfort, the discomfort is that they would like to have sex. They would like friction on their genitalia, quite frankly. I feel like that is not saying I desire a deep connection. I desire an emotional connection. We are not working up the ladders of intimacy. There is not verbal intimacy. We could talk, we just have this deep connection, which leads to emotional intimacy. Now I feel like we can open up and talk about anything, which above that is cognitive and intellectual intimacy. This is where I like to say that one person can have their PhD and the other, their GED, but we're so connected verbally and emotionally that we're even having conversations about things that, we absolutely know that the other person doesn't know, but there's so much curiosity there because there's mutual respect. 

And up above that one is a spiritual intimacy. So at that point, if we're connected verbally and emotionally cognitive intellectually, then we can be in two completely different places from a spiritual place as well, because we respect each other and we are, of course we have different opinions. And how fascinating it is that I can have this opportunity to connect with another human being that has such different experiences, but we care about each other. And that is what leads to physical intimacy. It's a by-product of those other levels of intimacy. So if a person is saying my nether regions are in pain, please relieve them for me by friction on my genitalia, we're kind of missing the boat, but then other times I want you to desire me and I want you to praise me. And that is just, it's just not a setup for any type of real consistency with a connection in the relationship. So, she goes on to say other ones. She says, as a child, I was not allowed to pursue new interests. If I didn't show an aptitude for those interests. She said, for example, I really wanted to play soccer, but I wasn't athletic. So my dad only let me pursue art activities because I was creatively inclined. But she said for many years, I believe that exercise just wasn't for me, because I wasn't athletic enough. Now, right there, you can probably see where this is going. So I would imagine that the dad in this scenario, he maybe didn't like seeing his kid out there not being the best, because that would reflect on the dad that is making it about him. But if the kid wants to play sports and wants to play soccer, then that sounds like a great idea. And let them be the ones that are going to go and explore that and not live with this life of regret because they were unable to do the things that they wanted to do, that they saw their friends doing as well because then how does that carry over into adulthood? Like she said for many years, I believe that exercise just wasn't for me, because I wasn't athletic enough. She said, I even tried to go out for track and my dad, who happened to be a long distance runner, made me run a mile with him, she said, when I had never run a mile before. And then he told me, see, you can't do it. So you probably wouldn't be very good or successful in track or cross country. 

I know. I've paused dramatically. I think I need a sound effect of a record scratch at some point in every episode. Because, so long distance running, father says, come with me child and run a mile for the first time. Number one, look how easy it was for me. Number two, I beat you. Number three, I was probably even faster than you were at your age. Number four, see, this isn't something for you. And it's insane. It really, it really is. So then she said that she felt like she internalized that if I couldn't do something well or perfect, I should not pursue it at all. She said I had to learn that mistakes and failing or just learning opportunities and not character flaws. So if you are a parent that is not wanting your kid to do something, I would love for a quick self check-in. Now there are real things like financial burdens and issues. And I would say that if you're in a position where finances are an issue, then I would also look for other ways there oftentimes that clubs and teams will have scholarship opportunities, or there's the rec programs. And so I feel like there's often a way to have someone be able to at least somewhat explore the opportunities that they would like to. But I do know that there are financial burdens. But if you don't want to take them because you are worried that they will not be good. Now that's a you thing. If you were telling yourself, but I don't want them to do it because I don't want them to get picked on or bullied because kids are mean. Which I understand, but I will just say, go ahead and set a few bucks aside each month for therapy someday for the kid, then to say I was never even given a chance for the kids to bully me. I was never even given him the opportunity to see if it was something that I liked.

And I feel like that's one that I hear often. She said from a religious community that she said she's no longer a part of. And she said, and from her spouse, when she was newly married, there was an expectation to be the ideal, what she referred to as a Proverbs 31 wife, she was said I was expected to take on all the home duties, the laundry, the cooking, the meal, planning, the grocery, shopping, the cleaning, the organizing. Along with finances, bill paying, taxes, budgeting, because she said I was quote better at it. When in reality, she said, my spouse didn't know how to do it. And she also worked a full-time job where she commuted quite a bit each day while her spouse was finishing school. He would say they are far more important than sharing the duties. So at that point she had already graduated with a degree and she set a precedent for the rest of our marriage in which I was expected to carry a lot of the household duties on my own. She said when we started having children this included taking care of them and all that entailed. She said her opinion really wasn't asked after that point. She said he had to have the clothes he needed each day. I needed to have dinner on the table when he wanted. And she said, I thought it was being a good wife. I was actually being used and abused while my spouse had a lot less stress than I had. And she said, this made me susceptible to depression. She had sleep issues and reactive abuse. She said, I internalized that his life, activities and choices were the most important in our home. And she said and sent him the message that it was okay to ignore my needs. And she said I've had to learn to recognize what my responsibilities truly are and ask for help when I need it. And let go of the things that aren't that important. 

And let me just take a moment here. When she said I internalized that his life, activities and choices were the most important in our home. And I sent the message that it was okay to ignore my own needs. This is one of the things that if you are struggling with, if I stay in an unhealthy relationship for the kids and I understand that there is so much unknown out there, but I worry. As a therapist, as a podcaster, as somebody that works with this population. So often that I worry that this is the message that's being sent to the kids. That, that if the, let's say in this scenario and I’m working with men that are in incredibly unhealthy relationships with narcissistic and emotionally immature and abusive women. Which is a whole, again, I know I did an episode about it a few weeks ago, but it's a whole different ball game and it is really scary because the man often is not being given any benefit of a doubt. But in this scenario, if you are buffering and trying to manage your husband's relationship to protect the kids. Because you're worried that divorce will be bad for the kids. It's just, these are the things that I worry about. Again, a kid gets their external validation from their parents. And so if the validation that they are going to have, if the validation that they are going to get is going to, in essence, be trying to learn how to navigate the emotions of a large adult human being that is their parent, that they are seeking to go to for guidance and for support and for safety. Then that's what it feels like to be them. They are going to be someone that is learning how to read the room and put their needs second, and try to go small when the other person goes big. But if you are developing a secure attachment with your kid, which means that they're the ones that are actually going through and experiencing life, and you are there to say, tell me about it. How was it? What was that like? Do you want to keep doing that? Or what else are you thinking? 

Instead of, I don't like that. I don't think you should do that. I can't believe you're asking me that. Do you know how that affects me? There's a lot of I’s and me’s. They're not the cool kind that worry or I wonder, or I would like to know. So that message is being sent. Again, that breaks my heart. The message we're sending is that someone else's life, their activities and choices are far more important than mine. And instead it is not unhealthy. It is not narcissistic or egotistical to be able to have your thoughts, your needs and your wants, and be able to express them. But to someone that's safe because that's where it becomes a whole different experience. She said I've been ashamed for spending too much money. And she said, I've had to account for whatever I buy when we have financial discussions, but I'm not supposed to ask anything about my spouse's purchase. She said, even though we have Amazon packages coming to our home almost daily. She said we have separate checking accounts, but he makes more money than I do. And it's always questioning what I spend my money on, but it's not forthcoming on how he spends his money. She said I've learned not to ask about financial matters unless he is in the right mood. And I'm prepared to share my list of purchases. But still working on this one, reset has been asking for financial information for months, and I've decided that I need to budget my own money appropriately for now. And again, it is well within your right to have the financial information. It is well within your right to have a mutually reciprocal relationship where both of you are able to express concerns about money and purchases and be accountable for it. And it's uncomfortable. And that's again, where I go back to a narcissist or an emotionally immature person who is so prone to just dismiss and just run away from discomfort at all costs. So they don't want to have to admit that. Yeah, you're right. Sometimes I'm a little bit controlling about money and other times I just spend. I'm impulsive. Because that would be scary to say that, and it might be uncomfortable, but, but that's what adult mature human beings do in their conversations. 

They say, check this out. I impulsively bought something again today. Because if the other spouse is going to say. Oh man. Tell me what that's like. I know I've been there before, you know, I worry because I feel like we struggle with the budget, but maybe we can get on the same page. Can we hold ourselves? Can we work on this together? Can we deal with emotion in concert with each other, with another human being? Because that is where growth occurs, not in hiding, not in playing small. There is no growth in trying to manage someone else's emotions. Or just trying to continually rid myself of discomfort by giving in to the needs of others. The growth comes from feeling safe and secure as I express things that I'm going through for the first time in my life and having somebody there empathetically, caring, and saying, tell me more and what's that like for you? Because then I get to say, man, let me see what that is like for me. Let me do a little self confrontation, check this out. Here's how I'm feeling now. And I never realized what your experience was. And I'm not saying then the unicorn comes out and they point their horn behind a tree. And there's a pot of gold. It isn't that, you know, fictitious. To them, these types of conversations and relationships do exist in the world so if that is not what you are having you deserve to have better relationships and better conversations. So here is where I almost just went with commandments. So, the word commandments may still be used. You may have read that in the title. This person said you can use all of the following. So she said, you shall, shall never stop at target because they disallowed salvation army bell ringers at Christmas. You shall always buy American made. He checked my clothing for tags for years. Shall never put any type of flavored coffee in the coffee maker, shall always wash all new clothing and bedding before use. Shall never ask for things. This almost always was guaranteed by you. You would not get them. Shall not complain because doing so indicates that you're not grateful. Again, these are, this is an adult human being in a marriage where the other adult human being is saying that this is how you must be. And, and this is what, how our, our relationship needs to be framed. Just let that sink in. Because that is not a way to build connections. But she has plenty more. 

You shall not open the sunroof if he is in the car, you shall always check all of his pockets before washing his clothes because he could have forgotten something. You shall watch the salt. He monitored that like crazy. You shall get out of his chair. Particularly the kids when he would walk up to the chair and stand there and wait, you shall not open the bedroom window at night. You shall never tell anyone how many animals that we have, you shall not expect anything from him. He may or may not do what he said he would do. It depended on if he wanted to do that in the end. And you shall not question. Servers shall never be tipped. TV or music shall be played at his preferred volume. If it was too loud for his liking, then he would turn it off. And if you wanted it louder and he did not, that was incorrect. And if he wanted it down, you get the point. So she said, is that enough? She said, oh my goodness, what a miserable situation. So then someone else had chimed in and said, okay, maybe the title is going to be the false commandments of narcissism. So I think that that does speak to this quite well. Another person chimed in and said the one that I still catch myself abiding by is how to load the dishwasher. And I've already commented on this. I think in previous episodes, maybe even in the death by a thousand cuts. But she said, it's funny how the rules were always for things that he felt were primarily my responsibility, because of course he knew better how I should do everything. And to that one I did, I did say, I have literally, and probably shared with other people that I could do an entire episode on narcissism and dishwashers. She's in a new relationship and she said when her new partner was over, he was helping her with the dishes, and she says, because that's the thing that happens in healthy relationships without the expectation of sex later, by the way. 

He asked how I like things put in the dishwasher and she said, I sat there dumbfounded and I thought what's the angle. And then I told him about my ex's rules with the dishwasher, somebody else then just also chimed in and said that they also said, man, the dishwasher, why is this a thing? This is definitely how the rules played out in their home as well. And then other people chimed in and said, what is it about the dishwasher? And so I think that that is one of those things that it just it's, because it's a simple thing that then someone can criticize someone else about when, in reality, you can load or unload the dishwasher, to be honest, however, you would like now, are there more efficient ways? First of all, let's define efficiency. But even if that's the case, is your goal to get into a relationship so that you can finally have your way and let somebody know how much better your way of loading or unloading the dishwasher is because if that is your goal for the relationship, then I would love for you to be able to make that a clear maybe from the outset. Or from the onset of the relationship that, if somebody says, hey, what are your hopes and dreams? What do you want to get out of this? Do we wanna have kids? We want to be able to save together. Do we want to retire? I'm going to go on vacations. And if he says I would rather have somebody say at the beginning, to be quite honest, I've got this whole idea around how a dishwasher should be loaded or unloaded. And so that's really, my goal is to find someone that is doing it wrong so that then I can correct them. And then they will then applaud me. And then I will feel like my life is complete, which I don't think is going to be the case.

Someone else said that a memory was sparked. She said another rule of the household that they were not allowed to use their dishwasher at all. Even though it was brand new, we had to hand wash everything. If we dared use the dishwasher, then there was a litany of complaints. The dishwashers are a waste of time. My family had to wash our dishes. So your family should too. I'll drink from this cup, but I'll bet it's dirty because you use the dishwasher because the dishwasher actually doesn't do a good job. Or the dishwasher is too noisy. It is confusing. She said which it wasn't and I could go on and then more people chimed in about the dishwasher. Someone else has commented and said the rules are so many, so unpredictable, it felt like yet he would rail. On work or outside sources that would have a preference, not a policy that he would never follow those preferences himself. She said the rules happen to be on the things that I did and not him. The kids couldn't have donuts for breakfast, because donuts aren't breakfast. But then on the days that he would go out or maybe a Saturday morning and he would go out and run errands, then he would get them donuts and other pastries. But that was different because it was the weekend and he didn't have a chance to interact with them often. The kid should exercise a certain amount of time every day, but he would not put any effort into it. It was just a directive to me and I also happen to be working full time. She said he had preferences on everything that he passive aggressively let known. 

And she said, then I would hear about if I didn't follow the dog food, for example, needed to be left in the dog food bag and sealed until I scooped out the food at the time that the dog was going to eat, even though digging my hand in the bag would scratch my hand, whatever that would look like when I scoop the food, she said he left for quite a while, an extended amount of time for work. And she said, I started to feel rebellious and I started to break the rules. She said it and it still made me feel so anxious. She said therapy helped her realize how silly it all was from the outside. And that's the vibe that I would love for you to get from this episode of how silly it is from the outside, that I am an adult with a mind and opinion. I can make decisions and calls on my own, even without consulting my spouse's opinion. And she said, I have no idea when I started to follow his rules and I still catch myself following them without realizing it. I'm taking it day by day. She said, I don't have to give them a full report of every bite that the kids have eaten today. Because when I do then that's, I'm open for criticism. I can buy and use a dog food bin since I'm the only one who feeds the dog. And I prefer it that way. She said I can let the kids brush their teeth and the downstairs bathroom on occasion. Even if a kid tells me that dad wouldn't let me do that. I can even give my kids mac and cheese for a second day in a row. If that's how life is rolling that day and the kids can even have a cinnamon roll for breakfast. Even when it's not a weekend and it's not something that he does. Somebody else commented that it's the directives, the rules that are expected to be enforced, just not by the person giving the rules. 

Just a few more. There's another person that I just, I really appreciate this tape. She said, this is why I'm even struggling to figure out how to have a healthy relationship with her new husband. And she's in a very healthy, happy relationship now. She said there are all these unwritten laws in my head about how marriage works based on my old neural pathways that were created from a 20 year relationship with a narcissistic ex, she said, it seemed as if there was some sort of invisible exchange system that in order to ask a favor of him, I had to do something for him. If I wanted to have a girl's night out, he needed a week away on a hunting trip. If I asked him to help with some of the household duties, then I had to go out and do a big chunk of the yard work. If I wanted to spend money on something for myself, then he got to buy a new gun or something. And she said she has just a million more examples of this. And she said, I don't think I ever would have noticed how this is not a great foundation for a relationship, and how I did not feel like there was unconditional love. She said my husband now calls me out on it all the time, and calls me out, let me say in a good way. She said that he points out that there are just times in life when he is more available and will step up in times when I am more available and then I can do more. And it's not an exchange system. That love should not be conditional and full of unwritten laws and expectations of reciprocation all the time and I couldn't agree more. 

Other people chimed in and talked about how relatable that was, the silent what's in it for me attitude is so real. And then I just wanted to, I chimed in on this one and said, it's something that shows up unconsciously in new relationships. Because at that time, when I was reading through this thread for the first time, I had a session with somebody pretty recently. That was just, they were worried about what they didn't know that they didn't know about relationships. Entering a new one. And the fact that they just felt so anxious about. What are the things I don't know about a relationship? And when you're in a healthy relationship, of course you don't know what you don't know, but you're going to discover together, which then the relationship is filled with curiosity, which is amazing. She was very nice and chimed back in and said, it's interesting navigating a new, healthy relationship with past unhealthy survival tendencies. And I really appreciated that phrase that she used. She said, my eyes are wide open as I've learned a lot in this past year. And she said she hopes that she can use this understanding to reach out and help even more people navigate this unknown. And I thought this was a really good take too, another person chimed in and said that they also felt that they were living from these, these rules. And she said, I found myself guilting out whenever the narcissist, her narcissistic ex-husband, has the kids and has an appointment falls on his mornings or when he has the kids and that responsibility falls on him. She said, even if I tend to everything else on their schedules, she said, the one I'm feeling guilty about now is to drop off our son at a therapist, then wait for 30 minutes with wifi, comfy sofas, good free coffee, during a time that he has a break in his work schedule. 

She said here, the rule is everything to do with the children that does not involve a trampoline park or a swim park, is mine to do, not his. And I think that's one of the things that can be so difficult is you do want the best for your kids. And so if there is a chance that your ex and then we can stay in this scenario, whether it's the husband in the relationship with the immature woman, wife, or if it's the wife and the relationship with the immature husband, I feel like I could just continue to go on. There's so many. Let me just go through a speed round. Someone else said, I can't believe what a chord this struck, she said there were colors. He didn't like smells. He couldn't stand rules about candles, haircuts, clothing, perfume, purses, my jewelry, how to make the bed, how to fold the laundry, how to clean the lights, the thermostat, the air conditioner. Even how to sit on the furniture, how to arrive early, how long to stay, how I talked on the phone, what I said to the neighbors, the exhaust fan in the bathroom, the refrigerator, the car, she said so many issues around the car. There were rules about shopping for food, eating habits, rules for the curtains. No plants, no pets. And she said, and I felt like I was always in trouble if family or guests violated his rules, somehow it was my responsibility and I would pay the price after they were gone. She said, I swear, I could go on for a week and still be reciting the rules. I catch myself off these days, realizing. Did I get, she said, a lovely little, just a bit of pleasure. Every time I'm breaking one of his rules, the enormity of how bad it was, has never been a real eye-opener. She said, I think I'd become so programmed that it was second nature. But never again. And she said my house is now my rules and then other people chimed in. 

One saying I lived so many of these same rules and I was made to pay of guests, broke them. I needed to contemplate this better. Someone else then chimed in and said the smells. She said, ah, I can't use dry shampoo without him complaining about the smell. Candles, forget about it. Unless it's pine scented. If I wear perfume, he complains, I put makeup on, it’s who are you trying to impress? I don't care how you look because I'm doing it for myself, isn't enough. And I could go on. Another person said he didn't like certain restaurants because their sweet tea was awful, but made our kids order water everywhere, showers should last no more than eight minutes, but he never was able to provide the data of where the eight minutes came from. Picky eaters were not allowed, but he could declare boldly what foods he refused to eat such as oysters. The menu of dinners for the week couldn't have too much rice or pasta, but he was okay with potatoes. And she said she grew up in an area where rice and pasta were the staple, but then she also said, but that was part of what he despised of me being proud of my roots yet he was beyond proud of his. So basically anything that a double standard could be attached to, we'll go through a speed round and then we'll wrap this one up. Another person said, had to buy his favorite brands, or they were called poop brands. If we weren't 15 minutes early, we were late. If I didn't dry out chicken, he would complain that I was going to make everybody sick with salmonella. I couldn't turn the AC above 60 degrees for years, even though I have Raynaud's and my fingers will be numb, with a sweatshirt and pants. And then we would proceed to get mad that we wouldn't go to sleep naked because it was a freezing cold room. If I complained that meant I was ungrateful. I had to speak to them about feelings or important stuff at the exact right time. Not after work, not when he was hungry and not before bed. 

He made it clear that he liked all the girls' hair long. We couldn't cut it short. Also he didn't like it up. He didn't like it when I wore too much makeup or skinny jeans or capris. We wanted time to go to bed early with him, but he wouldn't help get the kids ready to bed for years. So when he finally did, he rushed them and made them upset before bed. We had rules on how many nights he would prefer I stay up late versus I go to bed with him. I was a night owl and he went to bed as the kids were going to bed. The dog was never allowed upstairs because of his allergies, but he was the one who insisted on getting the dog, even though he knew he was allergic. So many rules around air conditioning, haircuts and spending money, but she said there were also other rules like if you're tired, go to bed without reading or else he gets mad at you about it. Or if you say you're going to read, but you're on your phone and he gets mad about that. Or if you say you're tired, then don't go to bed. He gets mad at you. If you turn out the lights, but if you go to bed with the lights on, then he gets mad that you didn't wait up for him. Or he asks you a yes, no question, that feels like a loaded agenda. You have to guess the right answer. He gets mad. And if you try a clarifying question, he gets mad and barks, it's a yes or no question. Now I read those as quickly as I could, because that's the confusion. That even if you try to slow down and stop and make sense of these things, they're going to change. 

More people chimed in that you're so right, rules. Like when the movie is over, you have to stay in your seat and watch the credits until the credits are all the way done. Somebody else chimed in and said, yep. That's one for me too. And another person did say reading all of this made me realize something that my husband is hypervigilant about. Not appearing controlling that there are definitely examples of him having rules around kitchen cleaning, money, et cetera. But she said, here's what's funny or weird about it. He uses himself as the standard, which I should be measuring myself. He's under the impression that if he's doing or not doing something, I should be this way, he doesn't think he's being controlling. For example, she said he decided to stop buying his protein powder because of costs. And so now he's recently berated me about not using mine. He stopped buying his, so I should too. Same happens with cleaning the kitchen. Now that he's cleaning it more, everybody needs to be better about putting their dishes in the dishwasher right away. Even though he was never that diligent about the dishes when I was the one cleaning. Has controlled a super covert to me. And like others have said, uses a great deal of guilt. And even more so though, he puts rules on communication because that's less tangible than him controlling how much money I spend. I'm not allowed to make faces when I talk, no interrupting him. And as long rants don't be on my phone while he's talking, act very interested, but not too emotional. None of these rules apply to him. And if I break one, then he uses that as an excuse to turn into a raging teenager and say whatever harsh, cruel things he wants. 

And while I feel we could go on and maybe we'll save this for a part two, but I'll wrap it up with a comment that really did, I know I can, I use this phrase a lot, it breaks my heart. But one of the women in the group said, one thing that I really am having issues on learning in my brain, even though I'm still married, she said, is that my worth or worthiness of love directly correlates with my productivity. If I do enough, things are copacetic. If I'm not productive enough, I am met with anger, tantrums, name calling. She said my therapist is trying to really drill into me that my worth is not based on productivity. And I think that's one of the challenges here and people have chimed in and related as well. One of the people said I can really relate when my therapist sent me a copy of my treatment plan for therapy, the word busy-ness was highlighted and underlined. That we're so much more than that, but it's so hard to undo and we didn't become busy producers in a vacuum. It was an important protector at some point. And maybe still is. And I think that's one of the most, the largest challenges with this, the group of kind people that are in these relationships with emotionally immature or narcissistic people, whether again, male, female, whatever the dynamic is, that you're a kind person trying to make sense of things, trying to do enough. Because when you do, then that's some of the times where you are met with some bit of validation, but then when these rules, these rules just continue to change. And they aren't enough and they are crazy making because you are absolutely losing your sense of self. Then that can be this position where you just start to feel like I just can't make sense of anything because it's nonsense. 

So, if you have additional examples of these rules, send them to me at contact@tonyoverbay.com and we'll do additional episodes based off of this because I guarantee that there are going to be people that are going to just resonate with this concept of these rules, these, just double standard or passive aggressive, or do as I say, not as I do rules. And again, just know that if that's what you're dealing with in your relationship, it's not an emotionally mature, healthy relationship and it's okay for you to do things the way that you want to do them and especially to be able to have conversations about this. So I appreciate your time and I will see you next week on Waking Up to Narcissism.

Author Dana Killion joins Tony to discuss her memoir “Where the Shadows Dance,” available for pre-order at https://amzn.to/3yR0gIp Dana’s story is born of a life in turmoil and her husband’s addiction, a situation where the only way through was to write it. And as she wrote, the themes of her personal trauma became clear and loud. They screamed for attention because they are the themes of many women, not just women with an addict in their life, but women who have been silent and have set aside their truth for the benefit of another. Women who are ready to find the strength and solace Dana has found through her reinvention. Tony and Dana discuss similarities in Dana’s story with those of the women and men who find themselves in relationships with emotionally immature or narcissistic people in their lives and how vital the need for self-care and listening to one's instincts can literally be life-saving. 

Dana Killion is the author of several fiction books in the mystery/thriller/suspense category, including the Andrea Kellner series “Lies in High Places” https://amzn.to/3FzQQF7 “The Last Lie” https://amzn.to/3yPhqGn and her latest offering, her memoir “Where the Shadows Dance” which can be pre-ordered on Amazon at https://amzn.to/3yR0gIp

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

Transcript

Tony: Dana Killian, welcome to, and as I was sharing with you before, probably the Virtual Couch, Waking Up to Narcissism, I have a true crime meets therapy podcast, and I feel like your story's so good, I think that, welcome, welcome to the Virtual Couch Network. Let's put it that way.

Dana: Thank you so much. I'm thrilled to be here. 

Tony: Yeah, it's nice to have you and my audience will know that I really like to just kind of go back and forth, but I actually wrote questions because I just feel like your story is so fascinating and there's something that I actually heard in another interview that you gave where you talked about you were journaling in addition to therapy. So there's a part of me that wants to just ease into your story but, as a therapist, I applaud you for journaling, and I'm curious, what was that process like and how did it differ from how you write fiction novels as well?

Dana: I do. Yeah. Journaling was something I wasn't immediately drawn to. I had a therapist suggest it and my first reaction was horror.

Tony: Tell me why. What, what came up for you? 

Dana: I was still at that place, at that point of the fear of being discovered, my internal thoughts. I was still in the marriage at this point. I was still going through a great deal of pain and I wasn't ready to share. And I felt that journal would be discovered. And so it was a scary thing for me, but later on, I was in a different place. I was in a place of such emptiness that therapy was fine, but it really wasn't getting loosened up, all the stuff that kind of comes up in between the things that you can't cover in an hour, the things that were just really, for me, lots and lots of questioning. So I found a journal and I just started downloading and I, and I don't have any other way to, to frame it other than downloading questions, pain, how I'm feeling, without any purpose other than to get it out of my head and out of my heart. 

Tony: No, I love that. To get it out of your head, I often find that people are so afraid of, and you can have all kinds of yeah, buts. The yeah, but it will get discovered or yeah, but it will just go darker or, yeah, but it will make me feel worse. And it sounds like you had those thoughts as well. 

Dana: Once I actually started journaling, I was really excited to do it. Okay. It felt like I'd found a release and I was less afraid of discovery at that point. There'd been a lot of other conversations and I knew that at that point I needed to worry about myself and I needed to worry about finding a way to deal with the pain and the emptiness that was inside me and the journaling was something I was thrilled to do. 

Tony: And did that happen pretty quickly after you started the process or did that take a little time? Okay. I love that. I'm going to cut this clip and then send it to every client that I have, everyone I will have in the future, so I appreciate you sharing that. You talked about that you needed to think more about or do that for yourself. And maybe that might be a nice transition into, I would love to just hear your story because, part of the, where I felt like this would fit in the narcissism world or emotional immature world, I often identify this, there's an author, Ross Rosenberg that calls it the human magnet syndrome, where there's a pathologically kind person who then is with an emotionally immature, narcissistic person. And then it forms this human magnet where you've got the kind person continually caretaking, buffering, you know, looking for it. And I'm curious, Dana, and maybe let's just let you tell your story, but I just wanted you to know that's what a lot of my listeners are probably, coming at that from their own experiences being that pathologically kind or caretaker that has felt in this human magnet. So I'm curious if that was a similar feeling that you had. 

Dana: Well, so the, the quick version of my story is I was in a 25 year marriage to a very high functioning alcoholic. And he eventually went into inpatient treatment and did get sober. At that point, he had had therapy, but not rehab. But while he was at rehab, I then learned another part of our story that I hadn't known. He had been living a secret life, a life of other women throughout our marriage. An unknown number. This is kind of where the journaling process comes in. As I was trying to deal with the why's of all of that because he had gotten sober, he'd gotten sober for me, and now I've got this new hurt, this new problem, this new crushing blow to deal with. And journaling became a bigger part of my life at that point. And through the journaling, yes, I write fiction, so through the journaling, I began to see that I did have, and that writing that story, at least for me, was a good way to gain perspective on what had happened in my life. Because as you and all your listeners know, when you are in the middle of trauma and pain, you can't see the big picture, you can't step away from it. And there was so much in that stage of questioning myself and questioning him what has been real in my life. And the journaling gave me that opportunity to see that I had a story there, but I didn't know that was a story that I needed to write, but writing a book is not the same as publishing a book. That's how I incrementally got into this process. So I decided to write, and I wrote that awful dirty first draft, as we call it. And it was garbage and it was full of all this protective language. I tried to still, I tried to tell the story, I tried to use distancing language. I used every trick in the book to not face the reality of, and not to not say it all.

Tony: And Dana, at that point, did you feel, was it a, I didn't know what I didn't know, or I wasn't willing to confront, or were you aware that I am doing this because I don't want to get that close.

Dana: I was not aware that I was doing it until after that draft was done and I read it and went, oh no, this is not working. I can't do this if I am not as real and raw and honest as I can be. I mean, I can write it, but it's just therapy for me. I'm gonna do something else with this and I had to make that decision, the only way that it made any sense or had any value to me in the long run and to other people in the near term, was that I had to find a way to be as vulnerable and raw and human and full of flaws and embarrassment as I could, and I had to tell it from the truth. 

Tony: I'm probably just making assumptions, but as a fiction writer I often assume that someone who writes fiction, there's a lot of their story or truth in those characters, or is that the case with your regular books and then was there a point where you thought about turning this story into a fictional story?

Dana: Those are really good questions. Yes. In my fiction, they're small parts of me, and interestingly enough, there's small parts of me that I wish I had; I could make my character a little more confident, a little bolder, a little more persistent than I was because some of this, a lot of the the most difficult parts of the drinking stage were happening as I was writing these books. So my real life inched in, but I couldn't admit to that. It's not a hundred percent representation, but small parts of who I was and who I wanted to be came in. Did I ever think about fictionalizing my personal story? Not for a second. 

Tony: Okay. Oh, I love that. what you said a minute ago where even though this story is gonna be raw and vulnerable and full of flaws and you will most likely be open to others saying, well, why didn't you and I don't know if you've already had that reaction. 

Dana: I've had, one of the things that, again, you know very well is that there's so much silence around an issue that we feel guilt and we feel remorse and shame. And we're just trying to be silent to protect ourselves and to protect others. And so as I've begun to talk about this book, you know, and I was no different. I was very silent about what was going on, but as I was beginning to share parts of my story with people who knew me, the thing I heard is I wish I had known, I could have helped you, I could have done something for you. But by that time that comes along, there's so much silence. The story is too big, you don't know how to break it down. It's almost better, easier for me to say, here, just read my book, you know? 

Tony: I bet. Okay. So what I'm hearing Dana say is everyone that has gone through, but I mean, it really would, the journaling process alone, if you looked at it, if someday it would become a book, whatever it would take, I think to get that written out I think is such a good message.

Dana: It's immensely freeing. And that was, that was a wonderful surprise to me and as I've spoken to people who have been in difficult situations and who say, gosh, I've thought about writing a book, I just say, write it. You don't have to publish it. Take it in little steps. Get that stuff out of you, gain perspective.

Tony: How many years into your marriage was that moment where you found out about the second life?

Dana: We were 20 years in.

Tony: And then you stayed at another five, is that how long? 

Dana: Yeah. There were, we made two attempts at divorce. Okay, of this is devastating information in marriage and, yeah. I was a mess. I was in shock. I was curled up in a ball on the floor for a year at least. And there was an eventual attempt at divorce, but there was still so much love between us, which sounds bizarre, even as I'm saying it about myself, but there was, and we hadn't played out all of that love. We hadn't played out all of the work that he had done in getting sober to try to keep me in his life.

Tony: Well, and I would love to talk about that. And I feel like I do, I hear you with that. And I think a lot of the people on the, I mentioned off air that I have this private women's Facebook group for women in relationships with emotionally immature or narcissistic, and I say, fill in the blank. It can be a spouse, it can be an adult child, it can be a parent, and there's that, just dance, the trauma bond, that there are good times and so we wanna look at those. So when you say we tried to divorce in that world of emotional immaturity or narcissism, when somebody gets to the point where they say, I'm done, you know, I feel like, man, none of us like to sit with that discomfort. And so we want that relief. And sometimes all it takes, I notice, is a partner to say, hey, I get it and I'm gonna change. And now that makes that person feel better. And then the person who is fed up feels relief. And I'm curious, was that playing out as well? 

Dana: Absolutely. I think that when you've had a partner for so many years, and the most important thing, the thing that makes you safest is to be in his arms. How do you walk away or it's difficult to walk away. You love this person for a reason. And part of being in an addictive relationship is that you do understand you're forced to understand the compartmentalization that addicts are masters at. And so they put their drinking in a box over on the side and the whole of who they are is not the booze, it’s the bad behavior.

Tony: So of course you're gonna look for that, but here's this good, and would that, when I talk about the pathologically kind, I feel like it's in, in one's nature to want to just not focus on the negative but in you and be the cheerleader and you can do this and I see you. And would you, were you that role at all in the marriage? 

Dana: I had part of that role. Certainly. I think, I think we all do. Again, this is, this is someone we love. And we know the reasons we love them and we also have this sense of responsibility that if I leave, he's going to die. You know? At its bottom line, we have, we take on some responsibility, but what we don't see is, if we stay, we are dying, we're dying emotionally. And it is this dance until one of you breaks. It’s the question of who’s gonna break first.

Tony: Amen. It is, and I talk often about the, there's a book about trauma, I dunno if you're familiar. It's called The Body Keeps the Score by Vessel VanDerKolk. And that's where I feel like when the person who is losing their sense of self continues to go back in and say, we can do this. Eventually their body says we can't, so well, let's give you some anxiety, depression, high blood pressure, hypertension, let's throw some, you know, chronic pain in there and whatever that takes. But the person says, man, I,  but I love this person or we can make this work. So did you ever feel physical symptoms like that? 

Dana: Absolutely. I had moments where I was passing out, I was losing my hair. I had thyroid problems. Yeah, absolutely. You cannot be in a long-term chronic stress situation and not have physical effects. 

Tony: No, and I really do believe you, you know, I like to say the brain is a don't get killed device, so it's trying to say, this is not okay, this is not working. But I like when you mention, I mean, it's, again like is the wrong word at times. But as a therapist that wants people to feel heard and seen, that when you talked about that compartmentalization, just last night I ran a men's group for addiction and we really have been focusing lately on, in that moment when the person says, I will never do it again, again, it relieves that discomfort, their partner also is so grateful to hear that, so everybody feels good, but then they will never do it again until they do it again. Because once they get outta that discomfort, then that's where the work needs to occur. And I feel like that's the, but the person feels good now I'm not, I'm not gonna do it again. And then if the spouse says, okay, but what are you gonna do about it? Then all of a sudden, they're caretaking or they're, like they're overstepping their bounds. Would you have those moments where, I don't wanna say demand, but really ask him for recovery or what was that like?

Dana: Well, for us, there were just, there were kind of two stages. There was what was happening when I thought our only problem was the alcohol. And there was never a, I will never drink again conversation. It was, I will go to therapy, I'm gonna, I commit to doing this. Let me do this on my own. If I can't make this work, I will do rehab. And that continued, and he was honoring his promises. And of course there's always, oh, there it goes again. And the drinking becomes secret. And we reached a point where he only went into rehab when I said, you have a choice. You can have me or you can have vodka. That's when he went to rehab and he did get sober. So then our second stage was more, I will never hurt you again. And that was the sexual behavior. But there were lots of other, I had more guardrails I guess, around that behavior. I was far more cautious. I was far more distrustful. I had a private investigator ready, I had a postnup, I had all of these things in place and every time I erupted in any kind of fear, jealousy, concern, outrage, whatever it was, he behaved exactly as he should have. He was humble, he was contrite, he was empathetic. There was a shift in him once he got sober and that, and booze wasn't controlling his brain. He could then see some of these other behaviors. So I was still in the back and forth. What do I believe? What do I trust? What do I want? For that five year period of why am I doing this? You know? What kind of woman stays with a man who has been a serial cheater? Who was part of it and part of my own self-analysis and professional analysis too. 

Tony: Well, and I so appreciate your vulnerability here because I know it's gonna speak to so many people that are going through things like this, and they go to the, what's wrong with me? And then, I often just say, man, we don't know what we don't know. And then we find out, but we don't know what to do about it. And then we eventually do more than we don't, and then finally we become, and I know that sounds maybe a little bit out there, but that process I feel can take as long as it takes yet another cliche. But do you feel like there was a certain point where something just turned or clicked or you had made a decision, or was that more of just this gradual shading of lived experience?

Dana: Well, as I said, we made two attempts at divorce. And the first attempt, I think the way I sum it up most succinctly is there was just simply too much love. We had not played out enough of who are you after? Is there something that we can, you know, salvage isn't quite the right word, but is there something that can be made anew? Is there anything there worth? So it was a cautious stage. And I went through a great deal of time, of having second thoughts, packing a bag, moving out for a few days. It was, it was torture. But every single time, he did exactly what I would've hoped, he had become a different kind of man, a different kind of husband to me in that stage. I'm still in this place of questioning myself. And the big impetus for me to really see how empty I had become was when covid hit. There was nothing else in our lives to distract us. We simply were forced to be with each other. No diversion and to look at, I had to look at the relationship and my own life and my own self in a very different way without anything else in the way. And that's when I realized that although I think I want this relationship to find a path forward. I was never gonna get back to that place where I had adored this man. I know he's doing everything that he can to try to keep me in his life. He's doing everything I could have asked of him as a husband at that point.

Tony: Okay, yeah. 

Dana: But I was utterly empty. I opened my book with a scene where I'm standing from a 13th floor window looking out on Lake Michigan, wondering what it would feel like to stand on the edge of the water and just slip in. I wouldn't have done it. I wasn't dead. I wasn't suicidal. But to even have those thoughts because you're just so empty. You're desperate to feel something. That was what was the shift and the switch in me that said, this isn't the future I want. I want something better. I need something better for me. I still love this man. I don't love him the way I did. And we have played out everything we could play out in trying to save, protect, rebuild, however you wanna call it. A relationship that was largely wonderful. 

Tony: So Dana, I love that story because that really is, that is at the end of the day, trusting your gut and doing something that is, is scary and difficult because it would've been easier to just say, okay, I guess I'll remain numb, but at least he's trying. No, I'm grateful to hear that because I feel like a lot of the people I work with are in, they're in some really unhealthy relationships and feel same flatness or apathetic state, but then feel like, well, I guess that's just my lot in life and the people that have the courage, I think, and that's maybe a strong word, but to go through with the, what you went through, I think, you know, how are you now what do you, I guess, what advice would you give to somebody in that scenario?

Dana: Well, that's part of why I wrote this book. Because I felt that one, I need personally, I needed to heal. And speaking about everything I'd experienced would help me heal. But publishing a book would help other people who have been in the situation. Sometimes we need someone else. We need to see it through someone else's eyes in a very personal way to understand that it's okay to take a little step. I have spoken to a lot of women who have had addictive relationships, and the one thing every single one of them says to me is, I regret my silence, for as long as I was silent. We do it to protect our families. We do it for very good reasons, but ultimately that silence destroys us. Yeah. So my advice to anybody when you are, whether you're still in the relationship and trying to figure out if you should stay or you are out of the relationship and still dealing with the guilt and the regret is start first with how do I give up my silence? Who can I talk to? And it, you know, a therapist is great, but a therapist is not the same as facing your sister. And having her look at you with pity and horror and you did what? What I found as I've spoken to people, people close to me who did not know, they feel bad that they didn't know. 

They feel bad that they couldn't help me, and they are, for whatever judgment I thought might have been there in their eyes, it's not there. It was just me projecting it. That was me protecting myself. We cannot love another human being if we do not love ourselves. We can't have a decent relationship with anyone if we don't love ourselves first. And this for me, is part of going back to that place. I have to love myself. I have to be healthy myself. I have to be emotionally strong myself, and then the rest of the world will follow. And coming to the understanding that my husband's bad behavior, his drinking and his sexual behavior, were not about me. They were a hole inside of him that he was trying to fill. And he filled it in terrible ways. And his hole was, he did not believe he deserved to be loved. He didn't deserve my love. And then he just acted it out. He played it out. He made it true. And there's some comfort for me in understanding that.

Tony: Can I ask you a quick question? I love what you said about, because I think we are so afraid that if we share with people that we will be judged or there will be a lot of negative comments made. And I will say that to the narcissism or emotionally immature group, I've done a couple of episodes on what are called Switzerland friends. And what that is is when someone does open up to someone and they say, well, there's two sides in every story, or I'm sure that and that's where we talk about, if that is someone, then that isn't someone that maybe is the safest person to share with. But when you find someone that is gonna say, tell me more, or I wish I would've known or I could have helped. Did you run into any of those Switzerland type friends? 

Dana: I didn't personally. But there are, I understand where some of that came from. As I've spoken to other women, particularly when it comes, my husband was a very high functioning alcoholic. And like a lot of high, high functioning alcoholics, very smart, very successful, very charismatic. And so this is not the image that the world sees of him. And so as we began to tell close friends, they kind of minimized the drinking. They minimized it as, that's not the guy I see. Can't you just stop it? It really must not be as big of a deal as you make it out to be.

Tony: Yeah. And that's where I like what you're saying. But at some point, you know what you know, and I love that message. I have a couple of things from your book that I want to talk about, and so that reminds me of one, if I'm gonna go not in the order, but Where the Shadows Dance a memoir, I've read a lot of it and I have to tell you, Dana, a lot of times when I do the interviews, I wanna just do a quick skim, but it's a really good read and I think I'm just seeing so many things that parallel this magnet syndrome, people that are trying to get out of these unhealthy, emotionally immature, narcissistic relationships. But when you just said, when people would say, that's not the person I see. There's a, let me pull this up. Toward the end, you have a, I should have marked the chapter, but it was where you were going to see your dad about your mystery boyfriend. And I just, I love that. So I did, I wrote this down where, you know, he said, I must have a boyfriend. Your elderly father, he was unable to comprehend the divorce even years after the incidents that caused it. 

And then the quote you said, your father has concocted the only explanation that seems logical to him. I'm running off with another man. And I would love to hear what that was like. And then your sister reacted and said, dad, you know what he did.And then, and again, bless your dad's heart because I feel like this is what people, you know, we don't, none of us like to sit with discomfort. So I like when you said he concocted the only explanation that I often say, oh, we create a narrative to, you know, fit our view. But then, your dad said, yeah, but that was a while ago. I just, I don't understand. So, yeah, what was that like? And I mean, that whole dynamic, because it sounds like, you know, you were there taking care of your dad. What an admirable thing.

Dana: Yeah. It was at a stage that my father was very elderly, needing a lot of physical help. He was a man of the, you know, the John Wayne era. You don’t talk about your feelings. And this idea that I must be running off for another man. And this, to give some context, was after, you know, the real divorce and I was leaving and not only did I leave my marriage, but I moved cross country to Tucson. And he just was dumbfounded, but he couldn't say any of it to me. He could only say it to my sister because again, men of that era don't know how to discuss emotions and if I can't explain it to him in about two seconds, two, maybe two minutes. It just didn't mean anything to him. So he was just grasping for straws.

Tony: Well, and I sense that in the book, which I, that's why I just, I really feel like it's the story so well told, because I talk about this concept, this nonviolent communication where we make an observation and a judgment in an instant to try to make sense of the world. And so I think that is such a good explanation of that. And I almost feel like that's one of those tests of where you're at as an individual. If it can be a, bless his heart. You know, he was trying to make sense of that. Is that, and I felt that that was the case.

Dana: That's exactly. Exactly. At that point in his life, you know, he's an elderly man. He's set in his ways. I was not going to be able to convince him of anything. 

Tony: Well then I loved that. I feel like that must have been, was that nice to see your sister? You know, how do you know? But, you don't understand. So I felt like you got to see your sister care and your dad, bless his heart, and you know, I think I'm good and I mean, that's what I was imagining.

Dana: Yes, that's, that was exactly it. It was at a point in time that all of the hard decisions had been made. There was still a great deal of healing to happen in my heart. But yeah, a lot of the family expectation and the dynamic of who's gonna judge me and my family, what can I say, what can't I say? I had already shed that. I was firm in my convictions of what I was doing, and I didn't really need them to understand.

Tony: That's powerful right there, Dana. I mean that, and that's, I think when I work with people and whatever that shift occurs or when that happens, that it's, you know, again, I, and I say that's adorable. Like that concern they show and they look really angry and those are a lot of words. And so, but I'm good, thank you. You know, and I just, I sensed that in your book. Kind of going outta order, there was another part, chapter 19 and there were a couple things here, your 25th anniversary passes and I love how you said, okay. At first I'm okay, and as a therapist, I'm so fascinated by some people they say, oh my gosh, this date is gonna hang forever. And other people will get past the date and they think, well, it wasn't so bad. And I love that yours, I'm reading it. At first it was like, hey, that wasn't so bad. And then, 4:18 in the morning, So, and I, and I do have a quote from you that I really thought was good. But what was that like? I mean, what do you remember? 

Dana: I do remember that. I remember that very well. It was at a stage where I was caretaking for my father. I'm in this limbo stage where we are processing the divorce. I'm caring for my father. I'm in northern Wisconsin. I don't want to be there. I don't have a home. I don't know what my life and my future are gonna be. And I was back in this place of caring for another man who needed help, who was frail, and helpless and here I am repeating myself and my father also had started drinking at that point in his life in an unhealthy way. So it was a stage where I'm trying to sort through lots of complex emotions on my end, also feeling kind of frozen and stuck on where I couldn't move forward in my life yet. And so my emotions were really, a lot of rollercoaster, not stuck in the pain moments, largely. So I'm balancing out excitement for what could be and then, damn it, I'm dragged back into the past. And like anybody who's in some kind of traumatic, stressful situation, sleep can be elusive. And to wake up, four o'clock in the morning and go, here I am. Here I am. And if you, if you remember from that moment, I just, okay. I grabbed my computer and I just started downloading all the garbage that was in my head.

Tony: Again, I'm implying all these powerful therapeutic principles on you, whether you know it or not. And so that's why I love the I'm okay, now I'm not. And then I do, I say constantly when we ruminate and beat ourselves up and what's wrong with me, you know, we're looking for this certainty we won't find. So then I always say, you know, yeah, those are noted and now do, and you did. And you did, there's a quote that I really liked and you said, they say that time heals all wounds, does it heal or simply blunt the pain, the ache, instead of becoming a constant road that we no longer distinguish from the other roars, or roar, constant roar, that we no longer distinguish from the other roars assaulting our bodies and mines, I can't answer that. Not tonight, not on this day. Again, so well said. And I'm curious now, and I, you know, I have my answer that you need to say. I'm kidding, but you know, now, did that time, did it just simply blunt the pain or did time, what did time do for you? 

Dana: I think what time did was give me distance and perspective. Time itself, I don't think changes everything. Anything. If you stay stuck in your pain and your trauma, people do that. They do. I didn't know how I was going to remove that pain. But I was, I knew early on that I was committed to not letting my husband's behavior destroy me. And time for me was, it gave me a tool. It was just part of the tool. I couldn't do it alone. Speaking, writing, giving myself perspective, not only on myself, but his behavior, his addiction, his compartmentalization. It all had to work together and so time kind of helps things marinate. 

Tony: Oh, that's good. I like that. And, I want to now of course, jokingly say that was the correct answer, you know, that you, you did that correct, because I'm asked that question about time and how long, and then I unfortunately say as long as it takes and you're right where you need to be. And, but I know that can be helped when people are actively doing and then people say, do what? Well, kind of anything at first other than ruminating and thinking and so I just, I feel like your book, whether you know it or not, Dana, I mean it just laid that process out so well, and I think that it does often take longer than when people would like for it to take, but then when they're, they're through it, then it had to take as long as it takes. And I don't know if that was your experience as well. 

Dana: I think that's one of the reasons that I've, or a conclusion I've come to as I sat with the attempt at divorce number one, finally doing it, number two, so we had this, we had this five year period of being in the middle. And to be honest, I think there was a lot of healing that was going on inside of me, although inside the marriage. A healing that led to divorce. And that processing was, I think, essential. Had we divorced at our first attempt, I don't know that I would've been as healthy about it. I would've, I would've been a mess still emotionally, I would've sat with that anger longer than I did. 

Tony: That right there. I mean, that's where I will maybe go back in and edit me asking a question that sounded really smart. I'm kidding. I won't because that answer so sums up in my work as a therapist if someone wants to say, well, just tell me what I need to do and what do you think would be best? And, oh, don't hand me that power because then it will give you the opportunity that let's say, yeah. Well, I mean, I've seen that this is most 90 whatever percent of the time it won't work and you'll be happier out. But I'm not gonna say that because then if the person says, okay, because then they'll get out. And now if they don't feel good, the first thing they can do is say, well, the therapist said that it wasn't gonna work. What was I supposed to do? And I feel like what you just said there about that healing comes in that, there's a book that refers to it as the messy middle and I think that healing has to come, I mean, obviously within, but that might be within the marriage. And that is difficult because you're around the person that you're frustrated by, but you want to then talk about the frustration with the person.

Dana: Yeah, there is, and I certainly had a therapist who said, are you sure you wanna stay in this marriage?

Tony: Okay, yeah. 

Dana: And I intellectually knew I needed to leave, but emotionally I wasn't ready to do it. And so, yeah, I think this whole issue of time and how we beat ourselves up, the part to remember for all of us is that this is not linear. There is not one thing, and we will do like the addict does one step forward, two steps backwards. We'll reverse it and we'll get two steps forward and one step back. And this is normal and this is okay. As long as there's some progress and some change, what won't work is not to hold onto the pain and to that awful place where you regret and you can't even talk about it. And I'm already running into women who like, I wanna give this book to my friend because she's there and she won't even go near it. She can't even acknowledge that this was part of her life. Those are not people that are in healthy places. And it's so sad.

Tony: And when you were talking before, when we talk about your, that opening scene and you're looking and thinking about being on the edge of the water, or I have people that will say, hey, I'm not suicidal, but I call it the, but if a meteor hits me, that's not a bad thing, you know, theory where it's that again, the I think the brain is an absolute don't get kill device. So it is gonna do anything it can to get your attention. And so when people don't open up about things, keep things in their head, then they, I feel like, you know, unfortunately people start to get to this place of feeling everything from suicidal thoughts and ideations and especially not being willing to open up about that because that is a shame filled process as well. So I just, I think your message is really gonna resonate and I feel like hearing it from people that have been through it, I don't know what, you know, I think it really speeds up the healing process for those in it. And as a therapist I can say all the right words and people feel heard and understood, but when somebody has gone through it like you have, I feel like that just that, that it does, it speeds up the healing.

So I'm, I really, I really appreciate you coming on and your book was really, I mean, I really like it a lot. I'm a huge audio book guy, so I've already got your fiction books and they're all, can I ask a couple of just nerdy author questions? Okay. So, okay and I'll talk about some of this stuff in the intro too, but, okay, your books are, it's a Andrea Kellner series, so Lies and High Places, The Last Lie, Lies of Men. Tell me about the, tell me about your interest in lying, Dana. Tell me about the honestly, sell those fiction books because I love audiobooks and I listen constantly, so I'm excited to listen to those.

Dana: And the memoir's gonna be in audio as well. I'm working on that now. So I was starting to write the fiction as the heaviness, the worst part of my husband's drinking was happening. And I was starting to find out what was going on, what had been going on in his life. I made the decision to start writing before I knew the truth and for me, writing mystery, what I enjoy is the psychological part, the puzzle. The why, the how. I can't wait. Who's doing it? You know? I'm not into the blood and gore part. I want the psychological, behind the scenes what motivates people and kind of the short answer to the lies is in those books, my character, Andrea, she could uncover lies that I wasn't uncovering in my real life. 

Tony: Okay, now, now I have to listen. 

Dana: And lying is at the core of all of these crimes.

Tony: Okay. Well that's exciting. Okay. Can I get you to, uh, I have a new true crime meets therapy podcast coming out in a couple of weeks, Murder on the Couch, I would love to maybe have you come on there and let's break down one of your books. I think that would be a lot of fun. All right, Dana, what a, what a pleasure. I really appreciate you coming on and I think this is gonna resonate with the overall mental health audience of the Virtual Couch and then the Waking Up to Narcissism. I think it's just gonna speak volumes to people that are experiencing that. So thank you. And I'll have all this in the show notes, but where can people find you? 

Dana: I am danakillian.com, I have book pages for everything. There are links to purchase. It's available, the book is available for pre-order right now, and it will be available anywhere you like to buy books. 

Tony: Okay, and I read some of your online journal as well, and I mean, you've got a lot on your website and you are a very good writer. So I highly encourage people to go check that out. All right, Dana, I hope we will get to talk again. Thanks a lot. 

When asked if Tony had a podcast to refer to people who were moderately interested in learning about narcissism, he said, "of course I do!" And then he couldn't find one. This episode is for those of you who want to try and explain your situation to people you care about who want to know but who a) don't know what they don't know, b) you worry that without a bit of background, they will throw judgment your way and c) don't want to spend a lot of time researching something that they don't believe that they've experienced in their own relationships. Tony references “17 Signs That You’re in a Narcissistic Marriage or Relationship” by Arlin Cunic, medically reviewed by Ivy Kwong LMFT

https://www.verywellmind.com/signs-you-re-married-to-a-narcissist-5208165

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

Episode 64 Transcript

Hey everybody. Welcome to episode 64 of Waking Up to Narcissism. I am your host, Tony Overbay. I'm a licensed marriage and family therapist and host of the Virtual Couch Podcast, creator of the Magnetic Marriage Program, which is getting a revamp here in the next month or two. So if you want to find out more about the Magnetic Marriage Course, I've got an online pornography recovery program called The Path Back. There's a Magnetic Marriage Workshop, which is a $19, 90 minute, all the things you didn't know, you didn't know about your relationship that is available. Some new podcasts are coming out, one based off of a book about addiction that I co-authored with a gentleman named Joshua Shea and an upcoming podcast called Murder on the Couch, which is psychology and therapy meets true crime. So just the easiest way to find out about all those things. Oh, and we're here on Waking Up to Narcissism and the Waking Up to Narcissism Premium question and answer Apple Podcast is now available and you can find that, it's specifically on the Apple Podcast platform, and I will have links to everything in the show notes. And there's a link called a link tree that you can go to that will have everything you can find there as well. Sign up for the newsletter. I think that's the quickest way to get all the content that is going out. 

Someone reached out a while ago, and they just said, hey, do you have a podcast episode that you recommend for people to start with who don't know anything about narcissism or what a relationship with a narcissist or an emotionally immature person looks like. And as I traded messages with this person they went on to say that they had been out of their emotionally immature, narcissistic relationship for a while, and as they were starting to heal, they were starting to be a little bit more open with the people they felt safe with. And those people still, even the people that they really felt like were more than just Switzerland friends, were saying, well, tell me, tell me what that's like because I don't know, I don't know what to look like. I don't know really how to support you moving forward, which I'll, I appreciate that. And the person said well, first I responded and just caught me in a real good time and I said, I do, I absolutely have this. Let me look at the Waking Up to Narcissism episodes, I said, I swear I've tried to cover this on a couple of different episodes and I will get back to you. And then I did, I spent some time looking and then I responded again and said, okay, so I have episodes about who you can tell, how to interact with people who don't know that they are in a narcissistic relationship. But I did not see what I was looking for at first glance. So I think I need to actually do one.

So I said don't have one planned. So I'll get it, so then this person responded back and they said, okay, no worries. And they said they just had a lot of people who don't necessarily want to invest tons of time reading or listening to a lot of things, but they still would be interested and they want to support others. Just this person said a basic overview of the most important things to know might really help people understand. And they said that they typically point the people to the death by a thousand cuts episodes, and those by far are the episodes that have the most views. But I do feel like if someone, it will help someone get a little bit of an overview of what that would look like. But if a person is not in that relationship or has been in a relationship with the emotionally immature, it can still feel like you're being a bit petty if you are saying, well, here's a thousand little ways that they just annoy me because I find that the person who has not been in that situation, almost their first response is gonna be a yeah, but. Well, yeah, but have you ever been really honest or, yeah, but have you tried or, yeah, but have you looked at maybe some of the things that you're doing and then all of a sudden they move back into that category of a Switzerland friend. So this took me on an interesting ride of trying to find out the best content or identify the best content that I can share to then give someone that is just now tuning a better understanding of maybe what their friend is going through or maybe somebody in their family is going through as are leaving a narcissistic or emotionally immature relationship.

I started Googling how can you, I don't even remember what I started googling with this, but what do you tell people to explain that you are coming out of a narcissistic relationship? That is exactly not what I Googled, but I really spent some time because I had assumed that I had an episode on this and I came to the realization that it's a hard thing to cover with the other experts that are out as well, because if you are trying to explain what narcissism is in a nutshell to people that, number one probably don't really either they don't care and not saying that in a negative way, but that just hasn't been part of their vocabulary, part of their world and quite frankly, I know that people feel like the term narcissism is overused right now, and it is. It's being used a lot, which is why I've also made that shift to narcissism and emotional immaturity. I think that's pretty significant, but if you aren't in the relationship, it's one of those. I think here's another thing, another hashtag you can see on TikTok or any social media app, if you know, you know, so if you know what emotional immaturity and narcissism really is, it's because you're most likely in that in a relationship with someone that exhibits those traits and tendencies. And if you are not, you don't know what you don't know. So then if somebody is saying to you, hey, my marriage ended and it's and I trust you, and it's because I've got my PhD in gas lighting I think the person would literally say, I didn't even know you went back to, or if you want to then share something, this is that concept where when we are given something to observe, we also immediately throw a judgment in there.

So as soon as somebody says, well, I was, I'm coming out of a narcissistic relationship. The other person's immediate response is they're gonna view things from their own lens and they are going to observe what you're saying and they're gonna create a judgment in that very moment just to try to make sense of things for them or to ease their own anxiety because if they now feel like that you even just saying that are somehow implying that, well, how could you not have known it would've helped if I would've had your support earlier, which is not what you're saying, then that person receiving that information, they may say, well, I mean that that's a real strong term. Or, well, I think everybody kind of throws out that term, says the person who just needed to throw out a judgment along with their observation. And so that again, is why even when you're trying to share with people that you think are safe, it can feel unsafe. Here's the direction that I think is going to make the most sense, I found an article and it's from verywellmind.com. I like that site. And it is “17 signs that you are in a narcissistic marriage or a relationship”, it's by Arlen Kuk and it's medically reviewed by Ivy K Quang, who's a LMFT, like myself. And the reason I think that this is the angle to go is because I could not find an article that just perfectly addressed the question that this person had sent. So we're gonna go over these 17 signs, and I'm gonna give some concepts coming from a point of where I'm gonna assume that if you are listening to this, it's that somebody's maybe asked you to listen to this or you really are trying to understand emotional immaturity or narcissism.

So I'm gonna read a bit from this article and then I will make my own thoughts and comments kind of from the angle of this question that was posed earlier. The article starts by showing a graphic that says, narcissistic traits to look out for in a partner. So you feel like you have to walk on eggshells, or they lose their charm behind closed doors, or you're constantly criticized, they break promises, you get the silent treatment, maybe they've cheated, and I think even just starting with those six things from this graphic of narcissistic traits to look out for in a partner. Again, I'm assuming, or I'm taking the angle that you, the person that is listening at this point is listening because maybe somebody's forwarded you this podcast and you are really trying to understand more about the situation that this person's been in that I think this is why this is so significant because you may not be, you probably aren't aware that they have been walking on eggshells around their spouse, that their spouse has lost their charm behind closed doors that their spouse is constantly criticizing them, which then if you only see the good side of that spouse or former spouse, and the person that is coming to you now feels like they can trust you enough that they want to start opening up to, then I want you to even just sit right there. And if this is a big surprise to you, then that actually is, is one the warning signs or the red flags because that means that the face, that the person that you were unaware is being now these accusations of this person's a narcissist or has these emotional immature tendencies that you have never seen them before. 

So now all of a sudden, I want you to step into that, the shoes of the person that recommended this episode for you and think, man, okay, I need to start putting my empathy gear on, because that would be really hard if this person that is now coming to me and sharing this information with me is doing so, coming out of a marriage, coming out of a relationship, I, the observer made the judgment that everything is great. So Wow. And that now that marriage is dissolved or is on the way to divorce and this person is coming to me I need to believe them. I need to meet them where they're at. And that would be really difficult then if they were being constantly criticized or the person that this person's married to loses their charm behind closed doors or gives them the silent treatment or is continually breaking promises or has cheated or so, I hope you can see the direction that we're heading today. So in the article Arlen then says, signs of narcissism are often hard to spot in the beginning stages of a relationship, but over time, the can be seen more clearly, which is a bit of an understatement. If you are in this relationship and all of a sudden you find the life preserver that is a book, a podcast, a group of people that are having a similar experience, all of a sudden it is very clear. And as a matter of fact, it is so consistent and patronistic that it almost becomes a bit mind blowing. And the emails that I have I think well over a hundred pages now, single spaced on a Google document that say, hey, it sounds like you're reading my mind, you were there in the bedroom as we argued last night, or you're sitting in the backseat of our car, or you're, you know, any of those emails, it really is because it becomes so incredibly predictable that all I'm doing is just commenting on the things that I see in my office on literally a daily basis. The article, they go into the DSM five. The diagnostic manual for clinicians about narcissism, and they give the view, and this is why narcissism is not always understood.

It really isn't because they go into the grandiose sense of self importance preoccupation with fantasies is of unlimited success and power. Belief that they are special and unique and can only be understood by or associate with other special status or high status people, a need for excessive admiration, a sense of entitlement, interpersonally, exploitive behavior, a lack of empathy, envy of others, or a belief that others are envious of them, a demonstration of arrogant or haughty behaviors and attitudes. So at least five of those criteria must be met for a specific diagnosis of narcissistic personality disorder, and that's why I will say, okay, there are two or 3% of the population that may fit that five out of nine criteria for narcissistic personality disorder. But what's funny about something even like that is let's say that the person meets four of those, then you go, ooh, okay, I almost thought he was a narcissist. But, no, he's, uh, he's one, one of those away. Or if somebody, you know, hits six outta nine, then all of a sudden are we bordering on psychopathy or sociopathy?

So I, a little bit of a struggle for me when people are talking about, can you diagnose my spouse? Well, I can't diagnose your spouse for sure. Or can you, yeah, I thought you said he was a narcissist, or I thought you said she is a narcissist. Oh, I will never say that. I will say, boy, they, they show signs of narcissistic traits or tendencies, but really we're talking more about emotional immaturity. And that's where I think that things start to be a little bit easier to understand. And, I have taken great liberty in an article by Eleanor Greenberg, which says “The Truth about Narcissistic Personality Disorder”, I think that this is one of the best articles as far as I'm trying to make sense of narcissism but Eleanor Greenberg says, this is so well put, and so, so put in a very simple manner, but she says that narcissistic personality disorder, she says it's the name for a series of coping strategies that began as an adaptation to a childhood family situation that left the person with unstable self-esteem. The inability to regulate their self-esteem without external validation and low empathy, and that need for external validation and unstable self-esteem is really, those are the traits of the emotionally immature person with narcissistic traits and tendencies because emotional immaturity then is where it is my way. I cannot be wrong. Gaslighting is a childhood defense mechanism. It's not my fault, it's your fault. And that has been the air that this person has breathed since childhood. Because if they got in trouble or if they took accountability or ownership of something, then they would hear about it and boy would they hear about it. And as a child that attachment wound is deep. So the fact is, you want to do anything you can to know that you matter and to survive in that relationship. And so the way that you get those needs met is to not not react when you are being blamed for something because if you get in, you may die. And meanwhile, your own parents have most likely not modeled, taking ownership or accountability of things. They've either just given the silent treatment or they said, well, I wouldn't have done it if you kids would've cleaned up your room, whatever that looks like.

So narcissistic traits and tendencies are emotionally immature, I think is a little bit easier to digest. So we get back to this article then so I'm not really looking at the concept of well what's the proof that this person's a narcissist, if, again, you, as the person listening to this episode, I would love for you just to just try to get into the shoes or the, into the experience that the person who is sending this to you what that experience is like for them. So they go on to, here's some of the behaviors they say of people with narcissistic personality disorder, and I will add in our narcissistic traits and tendencies or emotionally immature people. And, I do appreciate Arlan says, well, many of the following behaviors can be indicative of a narcissistic personality disorder. Only a mental health professional can provide an accurate diagnosis. And this is, this is why I don't talk about things in the way that this article does. And again, I'm referring to the article. I really like the article, but I am just gonna address the concepts of emotional immaturity and narcissistic traits and tendencies. If someone needs the full-blown narcissistic personality disorder diagnosis, then that is the, that is something that the person needs to do through I dunno, a mental health exam or those sort of things. So let's get into those signs so you don't feel connected, says that your partner talks with you when it's convenient.

However, they've never actually asked what your plans are for the future, or how can we work together to build the life. They constantly brag about themselves and their accomplishments, and they rarely show interest or ask questions about anything going on in your life. Their happiness comes from external sources, such as prestige at work or money, and you wonder if they're even capable of feeling romantic love or an emotional connection. So let the games begin. Here we go. And, and I appreciate when he says, don't ask what your plans are for the future, or if they do, there's an angle, if there's a, hey, so what do you wanna do this? And this is where it's gonna start sounding like all or nothing behavior, but it's because of the person that has left a relationship and that is saying, hey, can you listen to this podcast? I think this will explain things a little bit better than I can. At the point where that person is left, I feel very safe in saying that they have spent years most likely trying to, trying to manage the relationship, trying to care, take the relationship, taking more ownership for things than, than I wanna say it's humanly possible, in hopes of keeping the peace. They've been questioning their own reality. They've been gaslighting themselves, they've been being gas lit, and they've continued to try and explain things so that this emotionally immature and narcissistic person will understand. But, Arlen, put it simply, this is the thing where their happiness comes from external sources such as prestige at work or money or power and control. So this is where the concepts of control are interesting. And now if this person wants, if the, let's say the narcissist says, well, I didn't know what I wanna do this weekend. Instead of it's, this is the part that is so just, it's hard to, to imagine if this isn't the way that you operate, but let's say that they, I don't know, they wanna go to a movie on a Saturday night and they say, hey, what are your plans on Saturday?

Now, in a healthy relationship, you might say, oh, I was, I don't know, I was going out with some friends. And then, that scenario, healthy relationship, you might say, oh man, that sounds, period, because I want that person to thrive or have fun or I, I will make my, my desires and needs known, but I'm just gonna bring awareness to that because I know that if my spouse already had plans, then I, who am I to say, well, you must change them. So if I said, oh, I, man, I wish I would've jumped on that earlier. I was thinking about it, I thought it would be fun to go see this movie, but I didn't even, it, it's on me. I didn't. I mean, look at this accountability, right? This is something that is not common or isn't really happening in a narcissistic relationship where your, your partner is going to say, oh, man, I, if I would've mentioned that earlier then, then maybe that would've been an option, but you already have plans, so we will go do something another time.I want you do do the things that you would like to do. I mean, because then at that point, if she says, oh no, I actually, I was, I was trying to find a way to get out of going with my friends because they're going somewhere I don't really like, it's loud there or, that's a healthy relationship. 

And now this is where I, I kind of joke about the fight is then her saying, I would actually really love to go to the movie and him saying, oh no, I really don't wanna be the person that got in the way of your plans are you with your, and that's a healthy way, the unhealthy way is that the guy just said, oh, okay. No guy, go ahead. Like you, yeah, you always go with your friends, but yeah, that's fine. I just thought maybe one, we would go to a movie, you know, because he wants to go to the movie and most likely he probably knew that she had plans with her friends, but he's now, oh, I forgot. I forgot. I just, I thought I had mentioned this movie and it's just, I dunno so I wanted to see it for a long time, you know, and this is one where if the, if the wife knows that also earlier in the week, he said, I didn't know that this, that this was a movie, but now she's made to question her own reality. If he's saying, if she says, oh, I thought earlier you mentioned that you weren't even familiar, that this had been adapted into a movie and no, he wants to go see the movie. So instead of him saying, uh oh yeah, no, you're right because he wouldn't, and that scenario's like, oh no, I didn't say that. I said, no, I'm glad that this thing has been adapted into a movie. I mean, this is, and here's what the gaslighting looks like, I've actually, I dunno, I've kind of enjoyed this story since I was a kid. I mean, I remember my grandpa telling me the story, so, no, I've actually been wondering when this would be a movie since I think about the time I was 10. But that's kind of funny that you think on Monday that I said that I, that I wasn't even aware that this had been adapted to a movie. I mean, it just kind of shows me that you don't really hear what I say. And you, matter of fact, that's kinda a theme in our, in our relationship. So now that went from all of a sudden this guy, instead of him just saying, oh my bad, I was thinking it would be fun to go to a movie, and I just saw that this thing had been adapted into a movie. And I like this story as a kid, but we've got all the time in the world, how the vibe, the energy there, the emotional immaturity is, is amazing.

But in this narcissistic relationship, that is the vibe that we get. So the person can't just say, here's what I would like to do. Because then they're gonna have to take ownership of the fact that they forgot to mention it earlier. And now when the, the kind, the pathologically kind person, as I like to call them, says, uh oh, ah, my bad. I thought that you, I didn't even know you wanted to see that now you just handed them your buttons. What you, you didn't know. You don't know. You don't really know a lot about me. I don't really feel like you really understand me or hear me. So by the end now, the narcissist gets to go see the movie that he just found out about on Monday, but that he confabulated this narrative that is he's, that's his only wish from his dying grandpa, was that someday they'll make this movie and you'll go see it on the first Saturday evening after it comes out. So now he also gets to go to that movie feeling in control and power and getting that narcissistic supply of control because at his core, unfortunately, that means I, we will still be together because I must maintain control because if I am vulnerable and open, this person might lead me because I have no idea what that feels like to be an interdependent, differentiated human being having two different life experiences, where in reality that is absolutely the goal of a relationship. So, you don't feel connected. That's item number one, I think of 17. I don't think we're gonna make it through all 17. 

The next one, you'll feel manipulated. Your partner will make subtle threats throughout the relationship; they may not be direct with their words, but you get a sense that if you don't do something for them or give in to what they want, bad things will happen. Sometimes it's easier to just go along with what they want, even if you don't agree. And this is a way of controlling and manipulating their partners to get what and often people in this kind of relationship, what life was like before the manipulation started. And, I'll tell you, this is just on my mind right now because I'm having an expert, a friend, a current therapist Jeff Stewart, he's gonna come on and talk about coercion and especially coercion in intimacy. Because one of the dynamics that happens so often in emotionally immature relationships, and I'm gonna go right now with the, again, the, what we're gonna say, the guy is the narcissist or the person that's incredibly emotionally immature, but the, this coercion. So even if we're talking about things like intimacy and sexuality, where if the guy wants to have sex with his wife instead of being able to put that out in a confident way and having adult healthy conversations around intimacy and sexuality. And maybe him respecting the fact that she may not want to when she's been with the kids all day, or if kids keep running into the bedroom or whatever that looks like, then he may then start to pout or he may start to withdraw, or he may start to just feel like, man, you just don't care about me. I mean, I don't even know why I'm here. And so then she knows, okay, I know how to get out of this. Then we will have sex and then he'll be good for a few days. And then equally then he'll say, you know, you don't, you don't initiate enough. You don't, you don't desire me. I want you to do that. So I want you to desire me, but then I also want in essence to do duty, sex, or, you know, transactional sex because that's what I want when I want it. So that can really feel like manipulation. 

And then I appreciate the way Arlen says that sometimes it's easier just to go along with what they want, even if you don't really agree. And that's a way of controlling and manipulating your partner to get what you. And so to the emotionally immature, narcissistic person that that is, that continuous, almost push and pull of, of pushing their agenda and then withdrawing and pulling their agenda along and having you as the spouse or the partner just in this unsettled state, constantly trying to figure out, okay, is this the part where I'm supposed to praise him. He's the man or is this the part where I need to pity him and then go rescue him. I'm not really sure because the reality is the narcissist isn't really sure because it can change in any given moment. Arlan goes on to talk about the next one. You don't feel good enough and this one is such a common theme, such a common theme. You have feelings of inadequacy that don't match what you've accomplished in your life. You know, you go into the relationship feeling like this is gonna be one of the greatest things in the world and we're gonna thrive and grow. And I, we're gonna be a power couple, but then your partner tends to put you down or make negative comments about the things that you do.

You've lost touch with the things that you used to enjoy doing because you don't have time for them anymore. And, here's where I think things are really fascinating. He says, maybe you're always tired. It's difficult to get out of bed in the morning. You become hiding things from family and friends or feel ashamed about what goes on in your life. And then you start to lie to cover up the things that your partner does or doesn't because that's what people start to do when they lose their sense of self because they are spending so many emotional calories and so much time trying to manage their emotions, manage their partner's emotions, manage the room, to buffer for the kids that they, that is the part where they are not, they're not exploring and thriving and growing and continuing to nurture hobbies and friendships and passion because there's no time for that. When you're trying to figure out what's wrong with me, why can't I get him to hear me or understand me? Why do I feel like I'm not being seen in anything that I do? And what can be so difficult is now added to that if the wife is spending the majority of time with kids as caretaker, because little kids by nature are little narcissists, but that's a, bless their heart kind of way, but they're egocentric. Everything's about them. So they're absolutely not gonna validate mom at all times. 

So now if she's not getting that support or validation from the relationship as well, then she really does start to feel like, what, what is my purpose? I mean, I must be doing everything wrong because nobody is listening to me. And that can just start to break someone down. So again, if this is the listener who is hearing this, that someone suggested that you listen or if you caught the title of this, which I haven't named yet, but hopefully I'll put something very clever about, what you need to know about your friends that are claiming to be a narcissistic or emotionally immature relationships. It's probably a little bit too long, but that person has not felt good enough. This person feels manipulated, that the person doesn't feel a connection or didn't feel a connection with their spouse. The next one, he says, you're constantly being gaslit. when somebody constantly denies things that you know to be true, such as you're pretty confident in that example earlier that he really did say, I did not know that a movie had been made about this story that I had heard as a kid, you heard that you know the things you know because you're willing to admit the things that you don't. So in that scenario, oh no, I remember that. There are other things, plenty of things I don't. He says, for example, your spouse might make a comment like, you just don't remember right about something that you know happened. They'll gaslight you into believing that certain things never happened or that they did things because of something that you did or you said. 

First your partner may tell lies about your behavior and then try to twist reality so that it fits their version of events rather than what really happened. And you might begin second guessing yourself, and that is part of that feeling like you are going crazy. And if they do this in front of family members or friends, which they often do, then those people may start to think that the problem is with you instead of your partner. And here's the problem, because you as a kind person don't want to, don't, you don't wanna be mean. So it's hard for you to say that is absolutely not true because most likely by the time that he is sharing that information to friends or family, you've already been in this situation for quite a while and at that point you've probably questioned your own reality or you definitely know if I say anything right now, he is going to lose his crap when we get home. So, it can be really difficult for others to realize what happens behind closed doors because your partner appears charming on the surface. You avoid conversations. It may seem as though every conversation with your partner ends up in an argument, no matter how hard you try and stay calm and not get upset by what they say or do.

The narcissist constantly tries to push your buttons to get you to react. Controlling others' emotions gives them a sense of satisfaction, so it's easier to just avoid conversations. But at some point, if you're in an adult relationship with a partner, conversations need to occur or they are going to occur when you finally need to make them happen, and you start to realize that, man, I just don't like bringing things up around him. And then your body starts keeping the score, your heart rate starts to elevate, you start to get panic attacks or sweats. And then just the ramifications or the, just the, it's almost like this ball rolling downhill and picking up momentum is that at this point now, you already know this is not gonna go well. My body is telling me this is not safe. But at some point we have to have a conversation about, you know, the finances or the car or the, or the kid going to college or needing to pay for something. And you just think, okay, here we go, and now whatever button, whatever button I expose so that if I say, hey, so I've been meaning to talk to you about this, but I just, I'm, so, I just feel like our conversations don't go well. And then your spouse will say, um, yeah, they don't go well because of the way you're, look at how you're showing up. What am I supposed to do? And, this is all here we go. So batting down the hatches, we're going into battle. That is not a way to be in a relationship. And again, I have to keep reminding myself, if you are the person hearing this, this has been the experience of the person that is now saying to you, I know it looked great on the surface, but the reason why I would just smile and just giggle when he would say, yeah, she doesn't really know much about what she, she's horrible with money. Am I right, guys? That is not an okay way to communicate, especially how and if that person now is willing to put that face out there in public. 

You can only imagine or can't imagine what's going on behind closed doors. You're made to feel responsible for everything. Narcissists think that everything that they do is always somebody else's fault, including the things they do wrong. So you won't get an apology from a narcissistic person. They don't see other people as being on unequal footing. And your partner will not take responsibility and they will blame you. And that is, that is, again, this is that concept of the air they breathe. And so when I talk about, so person listening, when I talk about, I give these five rules of the way to, in essence, show up or interact with someone that is narcissistic or emotionally immature in your life. And, I would take another 10 minutes to explain the reason why I, I even hesitate on the phrasing of these five things because I am meeting people, my goal is to meet people where they're at. When people first start finding out about emotional immaturity and narcissism, they're typically met with a, hey, leave your relationship right now. But when the person finds this information, they think, no, I, number one, that would be scary to leave my relationship. Or we have kids, or we're a financial mess. And so I can't just do that. So maybe with this information, then I can change the dynamic. So I say, raise your emotional baseline, which means I want that to start really exploring self-care, and even if it's starting with having hopes and dreams, because already their life has been consumed with trying to manage their relationship, that the last thing they're doing is thinking about themselves other than from a survival instinct.

Raise your emotional baseline. Self-care is not selfish. The second one I talk about is getting your PhD in gaslighting. So just meaning what we talked about earlier with gaslighting, that is the world that this person is living in that has probably sent you this podcast or that you're aware of that was trying to open up to you. And that would be hard if they're now, now even look, if you are saying to them, and this is a, bless your heart, you're just now listening to this yourself, but if you're now saying, oh no, I don't think narcissism is a, well, by definition, you kinda just gaslit them. So now you can go back and say, hey, my bad, I'm now understanding I'm starting to learn more. The third thing is to get out of unproductive conversations. I tell them, please, because the conversations are where you are continually just handing them your buttons, handing them your buttons, and they will use those later. The fourth thing is learning to set healthy boundaries, but unfortunately, know that boundary, a boundary is a challenge for the narcissist or the emotionally immature. But here's the big one, the fifth thing, there is nothing you will ever do, I tell them, that will cause your partner to have the aha moment or the epiphany- that has to happen on their own. And a huge part of the challenge is the kind person has been trying to get through to the emotionally immature, narcissistic person, without understanding that that is, that is not gonna happen. So they've continually given examples and talked about their feelings, and this is hard for me, and continually going on and on in that regard. In the hopes that this narcissistic person will then at some point say, oh, gotcha. Okay man, I, I didn't really understand what was going on. But that's not gonna happen.

So then the more things that you say and do, the more ammunition that you're typically giving that person. The next one that he talks about is that you feel responsible for everything. And narcissists think that everything is always someone else's fault. And I love that I'm not a big all or nothing statement guy, but I have no problem with this one saying, I think that everything is always someone else's fault, including the things that they do wrong. You won't get an apology from a narcissistic person. And this is a fascinating one because I have tried, I have literally tried especially well before I understood narcissistic traits, tendencies, emotional immaturity, but I still remember the very moment that a person, the wife had said, he's literally never said he’s sorry. And she brought up some pretty hurtful things that had happened in the relationship. And I said, is that true? And he blank stared at me. And then at the time I didn't realize that this is where you can watch an extremely emotionally immature or narcissistic person revert right back to this childhood defense mechanism. So when I talk about gaslighting as a childhood defense mechanism, there's also fight, flight, freeze, fawn. And that freeze is where, where the person will literally just go blank and it's as if they emotionally shut down, because that is definitely a defense strategy of having to take ownership of something until you just say, okay, well, I guess we aren't going to have this conversation. 

And I have watched that on the couch where you can watch a successful older male or female person, successful meaning they get to have financial means positions in the community, but when it comes down to the point where they feel that they may have hurt that someone in their family or they may have done something wrong where they will, they may try to get angry. They may try to withdraw, but at times they will just go blank slate, and then you eventually say, okay, this is just pointless. And move on. It's really interesting. So, they just will not take responsibility because ultimately that responsibility could mean that they did something wrong and it goes back to what it feels like to be them when they were younger is a no, I can not get in trouble. As if from childhood, they're screaming subconsciously that you don't understand people who get in trouble, their families get really angry with them and they cut them off. A matter of fact, there's a concept called the narcissistic discard, where once you are no longer serving their purpose, it's really easy for them to move on to another supply. And that's where you'll even see in narcissistic family systems where the parent, when they don't feel like they are getting validation from their kid will often then discard the kid in a sense. And that's where you start looking at the concepts around a scapegoat child in the family. And if you have been in a narcissistic family system, or if you even are around people that this is maybe what's happening in their family, you will often notice that one of the kids seems to just get an awful load of, I was going to say crap. I know that's not a psychology term, but they're going to get the brunt of the negativity in the relationship. 

And then that will typically mean that there is someone else in the family that is the golden child. And the golden child has consciously or subconsciously learned how to play the game to make the parents feel good about themselves. And then it's that back to that black or white all or nothing thinking of the emotional immature, where then that must mean that there is someone in the family that then will get the brunt, will get, in essence, blamed for everything. So even if a parent gets angry, yeah, okay, sure, fine. I'm sorry. I got angry, but I wouldn't have been angry if you would've just listened to me or if you wouldn't have done those things that you were doing. And as a matter of fact, now, I can't believe that I'm the one that has to apologize. And now I'm really frustrated at you again. So that's even that concept of a narcissistic apology. Is one where it will still end up being about the narcissist being right. And you being wrong. You're walking on eggshells, it says. Do you ever feel as though you're walking on eggshells because you never know when your partner is going to explode or be in one of their moods? Typically it goes like this, everything seems fine, but then something minor happens and they go into a rage, even a small thing, like somebody at work being recognized for an accomplishment while your partner feels overlooked. 

It can cause a narcissist to throw a fit. And this is known as narcissistic rage. And you probably will feel like you've lost yourself now because all of your decisions are based on what will keep your narcissistic partner happy. So if you are listening and then you are starting to try to put the puzzle pieces together that maybe someone that you love or are aware of or somebody who even suggested you listened to this podcast, or even if it, again, as you listening to this and starting to wake up to the narcissism in the relationship. That is a major one where you start to feel like all of my decisions are based on what will keep this other person happy. And now I'm even putting that on my kids. And I'm putting that on those around me of, hey, a mom's having a rough day today, so everybody needs to kind of back off and so we're, we're putting that emotionally immature narcissist person's needs ahead of all of the rest of ours. And that is one of the things where people stay in these emotionally immature or unhealthy relationships, and they sometimes say, no, I'm doing it for the kids. But in reality, you're teaching the kids to learn to suppress their emotions and to read the room and try to figure out how to show up so that somebody won't get mad at me rather than just showing up and being. And having a secure attachment with a parent or the ability to go out and do, and possibly even make mistakes and then come back and it doesn't become something that then the parent says, see, I told you so, or the parent gets to take the one-up position and say, man, I never would have done that when I was your age or, or why didn't you learn from the stories that I've told you? So the narcissistic or emotionally immature parent can go right back to making it about themselves. 

You see through the charm, he says on the surface, your partner can be charming and confident and accomplished. However, this seems this way only because they're so skillful at hiding their true colors in public. They say all the right things and people love them. But the second that you're alone with them, then things change. And it's really fascinating. A lot of the examples when I'm working with individuals directly, where as the mask starts to drop on their emotional immature partner. They will, and I do sound like I'm being almost in my own all or nothing thinking where, when they start to identify these patterns, they're so strong. The traits are so strong that then they will say, but sometimes, my spouse will be really nice to me. And then I often say, okay, well, right now let's just put a little pin in that and say, what's the angle? And then typically you'll circle back around and find one recently where the person had shared that they realized, oh, it was because someone else was in the room. Or it was because they were being nice because they knew now they found out in hindsight that whatever the situation was that their spouse had now had done a 180 on and said, oh no, I, you know what I think I would like to do that. It was because when they got to this place, then they were, in essence, given praise for going to this place. So, there is this angle. And so you may see through that charm that others do not. 

Feeling constantly criticized, and I wanted to make sure that I got to this one and the next one, your needs are ignored because either some of those people that I think that didn't grow up with a healthy relationship modeled, or they are in an emotionally abusive or emotionally immature relationship, don't realize that this is not part of a healthy relationship. So Arlen says your partner is excessively critical of your parents. They might make comments about your weight, your clothing, your choice of hairstyle. They make fun of you or put you down, and this might happen behind your back and or to your face. They also make fun of others, especially people they perceive as lesser than them. Someone they deem as less attractive or wealthy in general. They're highly critical of everyone. So one of the things that I will hear is if somebody will say, well, yeah, he comments about my weight often. You know, I remember just a heartbreaking story early on in my therapy career of a woman who had had a couple of kids and her husband would just continually, when she would get out of the shower just make fun of her weight and just criticize her. And she, I remember her saying in my office, she said, I mean, but it's a fair point. I mean, I have put on some weight. I said, it's not a fair point. How much weight did he put on when he had kids? Which isn't even the point. I mean, you're going to show up in the relationship and when you have a healthy relationship, then you want to be there to support each other. And so the narcissist who, or the emotional immature, is saying things that being hypercritical of someone to put them in a one-down position. Because let's say that that person now, I don't know, got in perfect shape, then that narcissist isn't going to go, okay, everything is great. Now I will stop criticizing you because unfortunately that's the way that they show up in the relationship because they still feel that they need this control or power. 

And so one of the ways that you can gain control or power is to put someone down. And criticize them. And it's really hard because if I'm working with the individual who is being criticized, then I'm saying, okay, this is a concept where I really don't want you to even engage or to give that any validity. So if you know that you are doing your best really is what it is. And let's say this woman who had had a couple of kids and she was just trying to do her best and survive and hang on, then the last thing I wanted her to do was then say, try to say well, but you don't understand. And because once you engage with the emotionally immature narcissistic person, then now they are now again, they get that dopamine bump because now they feel alive because that's their, in essence, their sense of purpose is getting their validation through other people. And it rarely means a positive version of getting validation. It typically means a way to control and a way to manipulate. And then he says your needs are ignored. Your partner thinks only about their own needs and how things affect them, not you or anything else, including the kids, if you have a family. And they'll end up doing things that benefit themselves, not you or the relationship together. And you give some examples of, they may want to have sex when they want it, but not when you do. They expect you to pick up after them and they take credit for your hard work. They get upset when others treat their family better than yours. They favor certain children over others in the family, if they feel that child actually makes them look better or that child is the one that listens to them. 

And along those lines, your needs are being ignored. I think that this is the part where when you start to look at the selfishness of narcissism, that you really can step back when you can step back and take a look at the situation in the context of the event, let's say is that if the narcissist wants to go to a basketball game, then they are going to come up with every reason that they can, that this is the most special basketball game. This is all they've ever wanted to do is go to this one game. If you want to go to the game and they don't feel like it, then you're going to hear that it's pretty expensive and it's a school night. And I don't think that we really need to stay out late. And so that's the part where you will find yourself confused at times, because if you want to do something and they want to do it, then, okay that works. If you want to do something and they don't, then sometimes you feel like, why do I even bring it up? Because I know where this is, this is heading. Or if I go do it, then I'm going to hear about it and now it is going to be this thing that is going to be used against me. Your family is warning you or is oblivious. I thought that was a really interesting part because it's true. He says your family has told you, they don't like how your partner treats you or your family is oblivious to anything wrong because your partner has been feeding them the lies about you. Either way, your partner is a point of contention when it comes to family relations. 

And there's a concept that he doesn't talk about here, but it's also called, well, it's sequestering, where you will often find that the person in the relationship with the narcissist is often told don't, don't talk about this to other people,that's embarrassing. We don't air our dirty laundry out to others. So you can often feel isolated. And so if your partner is showing up as the wonderful person that they are trying to present themselves as, that's part of what can make you just feel crazy is if you feel like no one else really understands what I'm going through or seeing this, but so often, and this is just something to note. So often when people get out of these relationships, they will hear many people say, man, you know, yeah, I didn't think that looked very good or I don't think that looked very healthy and the person getting out of the relationship will often talk with me in my office about, why didn't they say or why didn't they tell me before? And then that one's a pretty quick version of me asking the client, well, what would you have thought at that time? Because when you are in that relationship, you are also trying to defend the emotional abuser, or even it can be at times the physical abuser. Because if you have to admit that your relationship is not good, we have this just survival mechanism that kicks in that we want to go to this place where we say, okay, then something's wrong with me so I can make this work. So it's a, one of those concepts where until you were in that position to be able to do this work to self confront, and maybe start to really sit with that discomfort and then be open and start to take in this new data. 

It can be the exact opposite where you feel like you need to defend the person. I will often find that in the beginning of those types of relationships, if somebody will come in and seek help from me that they are going over and over with what's wrong with me, I must be broken. And then they will start to open up a little bit about the relationship. And often during that opening up process, I will hear, I mean, but I've got my faults too, or I know, I know he means well, or none of us are perfect and those sorts of things are, they are, in essence, invalidating themselves and what their experiences and wanting to just say, if I can figure this out, and so that can just be a really difficult situation for somebody as they are starting to just wake up to this overall unhealthy relationship that they're in, he says, one of the other key signs, if you've been cheated on in our system often is often a master flirt might be cheating on you. They're very charming and not as sweet people off their feet. That's the love bombing side of things. Here's something that I won't go into too much detail because this would probably be a completely different podcast, but there's, it's that paradox of the emotionally immature narcissistic relationship with the pathologically kind person. And what I mean by that is, when Arlen's talking here about you've been cheated on, is that the narcissist will often just go seek the dopamine dump for the supply of adoration. And when they do that, that can lead to physical affairs, emotional affairs. But I will often find a good pathologically kind person that is coming in because they feel so incredibly guilty about turning to another person emotionally and yeah, sometimes physically as well. 

And this is going to sound again, here's what I call this, this paradox of this relationship where it can be someone who has been, in essence, driven into a relationship with someone else who sees them and hears them and understands them because we crave to be seen and understood. So if we aren't getting any of that in our, in our marital relationship or our long-term committed relationship, and then somebody at work or a neighbor or someone else truly sees us and hears us and really is inquisitive and curious, that can be almost like a drug in and of itself. So when you have the version you've been cheated on and this article where it's the narcissist, who is in a moment, and then feels like they are just getting this dopamine bump of this person, just adores them and puts them in this just high status situation. Then they may act out sexually. And then in that same narcissistic way of, and then just immediately, okay. I can be done with that, but then meanwhile, you've got the pathologically kind person who has tried for decades to make a relationship work. And now they're coming in because they feel incredibly guilty because they like communicating with, I don't know, the school crossing guard or the person, the barista at Starbucks or the person at work, because they feel like here's somebody that actually is asking them questions and wanting to know more about them, which it can just, that can be like a drug itself. 

Which can lead to that next one, where he talks about feeling unloved. When you got together, you felt like the most amazing person in the world. However, as time went on and problems arose, your partner starts to de-value and ignore you. And this is a red flag that they're not who they made themselves out to be in the first place. And, I'll pull the marriage therapist card here and say that I have sat with a number of emotionally immature people who, when we're having the couples therapy, they will say, let's say that it's I know I keep going with the that's what I typically see my office, but I know it can be the reverse. But if the wife is saying, okay, this, he was this amazing person who wrote love notes and we did fun dates and we just had all this spontaneity when, before we were married. And now that's changed. And I have numerous examples that come to mind of where the husband will look at me and say, yeah, that's the way marriage works. Can you tell her? And that's, you know, never ask the therapist a question that you don't know the answer to, because that is not the way it works. That you don't love bomb someone to get them into your grasp and then just settle back down and say, okay. All right now, we just, now let's just settle into life. It's now we're trying to find a partner who we can go through life with. So as we go through experiences in life, then we can start to process them together, live them together so that I can really share my hopes and dreams with a spouse and that I can also be open and willing to comment that they may have questions, or even healthy criticism at times. 

Or if someone will say, hey, tell me more about that interaction you just had with one of the kids, like help me understand what’s going through your mind and not in a oh, okay, really? What's going through your mind right now? But help me understand so we can grow to be better people and in a stronger couple. You get the silent treatment, this, this one's huge in the world of emotionally immature, your partner uses a silent treatment as a power play to control you. And they will withhold affection and they'll ignore your existence until they feel like being nice again, which is when I call, hey, do you want to ride bikes? And that's only usually, well, no, it is not usually, it is when it will benefit them again, like getting what they want a lot of times it's when, okay, now they're ready to be intimate again, or when they feel like, okay, they need you to do something for them, he also mentions you can be stuck financially. Maybe we'll explore that in a future episode, but an emotionally immature narcissistic person is very impulsive and doesn't take a lot of ownership for the things that they do. So they make bad financial decisions and choices. And that's just one of the things that happens. That doesn't mean that everybody that makes bad financial decisions is emotionally immature or a narcissist. 

And then just a couple more. You can't rely on your partner. When they make promises, you never know if they're going to keep them. Narcissists are notorious for making promises and then breaking them when it's convenient. You don't feel as though you have a partner that you can rely on and you find yourself having to do everything yourself. And a lot of, again, all or nothing or everything statements there, but one of the consistencies that I've been noticing a lot lately and trying to write more about is that I really do feel like when I am working with someone that is just struggling with emotional immaturity and they are coming in and they are seeking help and they want, they're willing to self confront, that we get back to that concept of, we don't like to sit with discomfort. And so, especially if somebody is more on the emotionally immature scale, it can be really easy when they feel uncomfortable to be put on the spot and with someone saying, hey, can I count on you? I need to buy these tickets in two weeks. Can you do this thing with me? Then it feels good. One way that they will alleviate that discomfort is to say, yeah, I want to do it because I think that they really do, maybe in that moment, want to do it. But that also is just a way for them to say, okay, I've alleviated that discomfort. I will kick that down the road. And there's a lot of kicking the can and the world of the emotionally immature that I will do a lot of things later. But then when later comes, then, if that has not been something that's put on their radar or something else comes up that they would rather do, then here comes the gaslighting. The, you know, I'd only said that at the time, because I thought that was what you wanted, but the more I thought about it, I'm kind of, I can't believe you put me in that spot. 

And that's not, or, you know what, you can take one of the kids that I'm sure that they would love it. As a matter of fact, I think that that's kind of what you probably should do, but really it's not me being willing to say, hey, I said that in the moment, because that is what I wanted to do, but then I should've let you know that I was only saying that because I really wanted to make you happy and get rid of my discomfort, but no one emotionally immature is going to have that kind of insight, especially right early on when you're trying to wake up to this narcissism or emotional immaturity in your relationships. He ends by saying you've asked and they won't change, narcissists aren't willing to change because that would mean admitting something is wrong. And we've spent a little bit of time today talking about that is just the air that they breathe. That admission of being wrong feels like the end of their world. It feels like that will lead to sure abandonment, which will eventually lead to death. And so rather than just saying, taking ownership and accountability, my bad, what can I learn from this? What do I need to own up to? It’s a lot easier to just say that that's ridiculous. I don't, I don't do those things or, well, when you start working on your stuff, then come back and talk to me and then I'll see what I can do about mine. So, your partner isn't willing to change their behavior, then he ends by in essence saying, well, you might be in a relationship with a narcissist. 

So if you have made it this far, I appreciate that. If you're the person that's in this relationship with the emotionally immature or someone that is struggling with narcissistic traits or tendencies, then you know, you're on this journey. You're starting to wake up to this in the relationship. And just, if you can go back and find those episodes that talk about the five things that I recommend that you can do, if you feel like you're in this emotionally immature or narcissistic relationship. And if you're somebody that is trying to understand more about what someone is going through, if they have said, if they have mentioned the concepts around narcissism or emotional immaturity, I hope that you can see that this is a, this is one article that has 17 different things that say you may be in a relationship with a narcissist or an emotionally immature person and boy again, I will acknowledge that if you Google this concept, you will see that there are 17 things, 30 things, 50 things. There are so many different articles that talk about these consistent patterns of behavior. And it's because they're very consistent. So, please don't take it lightly if someone is saying that they are in a relationship or escaping or getting out of a relationship with someone that they feel is emotionally immature or narcissistic, because it has been a slow process, a death by a thousand cuts process to get them to the point that wherever they are right now. So what they really need is somebody to say, man, tell me more. And that sounds hard and I'm here for you and what can I do to help? That's some of the best advice that I can give if somebody is asking you to take a look at what these concepts of emotional immaturity or narcissism look like. 

All right. Hey, thanks for taking the time. If you have questions, feel free to send them, and contact me through my social media contact at Tony Overbay underscore LMFT on Instagram, at Virtual Couch on TikTok or Tony Overbay licensed marriage and family therapist on Facebook, or you can email me contact@tonyoverbay.com and I will see you next week on Waking Up to Narcissism. 

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