TED Revolutionairy Love
‘Love is the most therapeutic, love people as they are, not as they should be’
Getraumatiseerd zijn betekent dat je je leven blijft inrichten en plannen alsof het trauma nog altijd voortduurt – ongewijzigd en onveranderbaar – terwijl elke nieuwe ontmoeting of gebeurtenis wordt bezoedeld door het verleden.
Na een trauma wordt de wereld ervaren door een ander zenuwstelsel.
Alle energie van degene die erdoor wordt getroffen, wordt nu gericht op het onderdrukken van de innerlijke chaos, ten koste van zijn spontane deelname aan het leven. Zulke pogingen om de controle te behouden over ondraaglijke fysiologische reacties kunnen leiden tot een hele reeks lichamelijke symptomen, waaronder fibromyalgie, chronische vermoeidheid en andere auto-immuunziektes.
Dit verklaart waarom het essentieel is om bij een trauma het gehele organisme te behandelen: lichaam, hersenen en geest.
Narcissism and Abuse as a Co-Created Relationship System
Making your partner so bad that leaving is a vindication
BY: THE IRRELATIONSHIP GROUP
FEBRUARY 09, 2016 | ROMANCE
Narcissism is a topic of great importance, both for individuals and in terms of relationships. Blogs offer advice about how to tell if someone is a narcissist, about how to break up with a narcissist, even figuring out if you’re a narcissist yourself. An important, often unasked question, is how do relationships involving narcissism get going? Does focusing on one person’s or another person’s issues work, rather than what the two do together? Because people with developmental trauma tend to repeat abuse in adulthood (van der Kolk, 1989), we think it’s important to address things on both individual and couples’ levels.
“AS A PSYCHOANALYST, I BELIEVE THAT PEOPLE ARE MORE COMPLEX THAN ANY DIAGNOSIS CAN POSSIBLY DESCRIBE. YET, WHEN IT COMES TO ROMANCE AND DATING, IT’S AMAZING HOW EASY IT IS FOR US TO THROW DIAGNOSES – LIKE NARCISSISM – AROUND.”
NARCISSISM CASE STUDY: JILL AND TONY
Meet Jill. People see her as “a good person.” When Tony, a loose acquaintance, said he was looking for a place to stay till he could get his own place, she offered him her spare room. Never mind that the “extra room” was her studio: she felt that she shouldn’t just “leave a nice guy like Tony without a place to go.”
And besides, as she said, she liked the company. The understated attraction they felt added a good dose of “chemistry” to the mix.
Tony moved in, and at first it seemed fine. Though he didn’t really help with expenses, he did with housekeeping, and looked after Jill’s dogs when she was away. Since the arrangement was only temporary, Jill didn’t highlight that his room was where she worked. She didn’t mention how much anxiety it caused her to have it occupied, especially as an early-career fashion designer. A week after Tony moved in, they became “friends-with-benefits,” although Tony made it clear that he didn’t mean to interfere with Jill’s life otherwise. Not much imagination is needed to see that, though they told themselves they were just helping each other out, they were becoming emotionally entangled without fully knowing what they were getting into.
THE GRAFTS STORY
People living in irrelationship activate behavioral routines learned in childhood that relieved anxiety by making their parents feel better. We made the acronym GRAFTS as a simple tool to help organize our thinking: Good, Right, Absent, Funny, Tense and Smart.
Through GRAFTS behaviors, the child diverts his caregiver (usually his mother) from a negative emotion she has which interferes with her ability to take care of the child, temporarily restoring her
ability to provide. This happens over and over, laying the foundation for adult relationship patterning.
Jill used two GRAFTS when she was anxious and lonely: She became the Good person who came to Tony’s rescue; and she became Absent from her own life by ignoring her need for her studio space.
Tony’s GRAFTS matched up with Jill’s: he went along with Jill’s good-girl performance while remaining emotionally Absent, importantly assuring Jill (and himself) that their sexual relationship emotionally didn’t really matter.
This unspoken agreement allowed Jill and Tony to remain emotionally unavailable, and non-empathic toward one another—a defining characteristic of narcissism. Meanwhile, Jill also racked up another GRAFT, Tense, by walking on eggshells to make sure Tony remained comfortably unaware of her need for the extra room. They were only partly aware of how much resentment was building.
THE BEGINNING OF THE END
Before long, their arrangement started to break down. Jill came to see Tony as selfish, narcissistic and taking advantage of her—just the type of man she tried to avoid, moreover the kind of relationship she exactly didn’t want, which kept happening “to her”.
“IF YOU KEEP INSISTING THAT YOUR PARTNER IS THE BAD GUY, YOU’RE PROBABLY NOT GOING TO FIND OUT WHY YOUR RELATIONSHIPS KEEP GOING BAD.”DANIEL
For his part, Tony felt that Jill’s demands on him were growing, which violated their initial agreement of no strings attached. He also felt mistreated and even accused of being a “user”, over his “honesty” about their sexual relationship. Predictably, the situation blew up in rage, hurt and ugly, but predictable, name-calling and other personal attacks.
So here’s a synopsis, a peculiar how-to:
- Two people pick one another, thinking they are both amazing, but missing key information.
- Idealize one another for as long as the initial passion can maintain itself – and the idealization.
- The reality of the situation starts to emerge, as each realizes the other is neither perfect, nor “the answer”.
- One person feels disappointed, aggrieved and deceived, and the other person feels accused and unable to meet the demands.
- The first person escalates the demands and accusations, ensuring the other person will fall short, and the other person increasing retreats and has to protect themselves.
- The first person is now seeing the other person as selfish, and narcissistic, and the other person true enough is becoming more cold, distant and self-interested, cutting off.
- Break-up without guilt or remorse, because each sees the other as fatally flawed. They can part ways angrily, with a clean conscience, and perhaps a sense something wasn’t quite right.
“WHILE SOME PEOPLE ARE TRULY NARCISSISTIC AND THAT IS THAT, IT OFTEN TAKES TWO TO TANGO. WE MISS THE FACT THAT MOST RELATIONSHIP PROBLEMS ARE AT LEAST PARTLY DUE TO WHAT THE TWO PEOPLE ARE DOING TO, AND WITH, ONE ANOTHER. IN THIS CASE, A MALIGNANT TRANSFORMATION TAKES PLACE, AND EACH BECOMES THE OTHER’S NIGHTMARE.”
If Jill and Tony had the skills to notice and constructively address their irrelationship pattern, they’d have had a shot at building a space for true intimacy by identifying and avoiding their repetitive GRAFTS-based roles of narcissist and victim, or simply not get into it in the first place. Instead, loaded down with Jill’s self-righteous disgust that Tony was “such a self-absorbed prick,” and Tony’s fire-back that Jill was “just controlling phony bitch,” they came away “relieved to have gotten out of that,” each assured they had been innocent bystander’s of an emotional hit-and-run by a bad person.
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Bessel A. van der Kolk, MD, The Compulsion to Repeat the Trauma, Re-enactment, Revictimization, and Masochism, Psychiatric Clinics of North America, Volume 12, Number 2, Pages 389-411, June 1989.
TAGS: ABUSE, ANXIETY, DEFENSE, DEPENDENCY, DISSOCIATION, GRAFTS, NARCISSISM, NARCISSIST, SELF-OTHER HELP, TRAUMA
When Things Fall Apart: Tibetan Buddhist Nun and Teacher Pema Chödrön on Transformation Through Difficult Times
“Only to the extent that we expose ourselves over and over to annihilation can that which is indestructible be found in us.”
BY MARIA POPOVA
In every life, there comes a time when we are razed to the bone of our resilience by losses beyond our control — lacerations of the heart that feel barely bearable, that leave us bereft of solid ground. What then?
“In art,” Kafka assured his teenage walking companion, “one must throw one’s life away in order to gain it.” As in art, so in life — so suggests the American Tibetan Buddhist nun and teacher Pema Chödrön. In When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times(public library), she draws on her own confrontation with personal crisis and on the ancient teachings of Tibetan Buddhism to offer gentle and incisive guidance to the enormity we stand to gain during those times when all seems to be lost. Half a century after Albert Camus asserted that “there is no love of life without despair of life,” Chödrön reframes those moments of acute despair as opportunities for befriending life by befriending ourselves in the deepest sense.
Writing in that Buddhist way of wrapping in simple language the difficult and beautiful truths of existence, Chödrön examines the most elemental human response to the uncharted territory that comes with loss or any other species of unforeseen change:
Fear is a universal experience. Even the smallest insect feels it. We wade in the tidal pools and put our finger near the soft, open bodies of sea anemones and they close up. Everything spontaneously does that. It’s not a terrible thing that we feel fear when faced with the unknown. It is part of being alive, something we all share. We react against the possibility of loneliness, of death, of not having anything to hold on to. Fear is a natural reaction to moving closer to the truth.
If we commit ourselves to staying right where we are, then our experience becomes very vivid. Things become very clear when there is nowhere to escape.
This clarity, Chödrön argues, is a matter of becoming intimate with fear and rather than treating it as a problem to be solved, using it as a tool with which to dismantle all of our familiar structures of being, “a complete undoing of old ways of seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, and thinking.” Noting that bravery is not the absence of fear but the intimacy with fear, she writes:
When we really begin to do this, we’re going to be continually humbled. There’s not going to be much room for the arrogance that holding on to ideals can bring. The arrogance that inevitably does arise is going to be continually shot down by our own courage to step forward a little further. The kinds of discoveries that are made through practice have nothing to do with believing in anything. They have much more to do with having the courage to die, the courage to die continually.
In essence, this is the hard work of befriending ourselves, which is our only mechanism for befriending life in its completeness. Out of that, Chödrön argues, arises our deepest strength:
Only to the extent that we expose ourselves over and over to annihilation can that which is indestructible be found in us.
Things falling apart is a kind of testing and also a kind of healing. We think that the point is to pass the test or to overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don’t really get solved. They come together and they fall apart. Then they come together again and fall apart again. It’s just like that. The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy.
Decades after Rollo May made his case for the constructiveness of despair, Chödrön considers the fundamental choice we have in facing our unsettlement — whether with aggressive aversion or with generative openness to possibility:
Life is a good teacher and a good friend. Things are always in transition, if we could only realize it. Nothing ever sums itself up in the way that we like to dream about. The off-center, in-between state is an ideal situation, a situation in which we don’t get caught and we can open our hearts and minds beyond limit. It’s a very tender, nonaggressive, open-ended state of affairs.
To stay with that shakiness — to stay with a broken heart, with a rumbling stomach, with the feeling of hopelessness and wanting to get revenge — that is the path of true awakening. Sticking with that uncertainty, getting the knack of relaxing in the midst of chaos, learning not to panic — this is the spiritual path. Getting the knack of catching ourselves, of gently and compassionately catching ourselves, is the path of the warrior. We catch ourselves one zillion times as once again, whether we like it or not, we harden into resentment, bitterness, righteous indignation — harden in any way, even into a sense of relief, a sense of inspiration.
Half a century after Alan Watts began introducing Eastern teachings into the West with his clarion call for presence as the antidote to anxiety, Chödrön points to the present moment — however uncertain, however difficult — as the sole seedbed of wakefulness to all of life:
This very moment is the perfect teacher, and it’s always with us.
We can be with what’s happening and not dissociate. Awakeness is found in our pleasure and our pain, our confusion and our wisdom, available in each moment of our weird, unfathomable, ordinary everyday lives.
Remaining present and intimate with the moment, she argues, requires mastering maitri — the Buddhist practice of loving-kindness toward oneself, that most difficult art of self-compassion. She contrasts maitri with the typical Western therapy and self-help method of handling crises:
What makes maitri such a different approach is that we are not trying to solve a problem. We are not striving to make pain go away or to become a better person. In fact, we are giving up control altogether and letting concepts and ideals fall apart. This starts with realizing that whatever occurs is neither the beginning nor the end. It is just the same kind of normal human experience that’s been happening to everyday people from the beginning of time. Thoughts, emotions, moods, and memories come and they go, and basic nowness is always here.
In the midst of all the heavy dialogue with ourselves, open space is always there.
Another Buddhist concept at odds with our Western coping mechanisms is the Tibetan expression ye tang che. Chödrön explains its connotations, evocative of Camus’s insistence on the vitalizing power of despair:
The ye part means “totally, completely,” and the rest of it means “exhausted.” Altogether, ye tang che means totally tired out. We might say “totally fed up.” It describes an experience of complete hopelessness, of completely giving up hope. This is an important point. This is the beginning of the beginning. Without giving up hope — that there’s somewhere better to be, that there’s someone better to be — we will never relax with where we are or who we are.
Suffering begins to dissolve when we can question the belief or the hope that there’s anywhere to hide.
Decades after Simone de Beauvoir’s proclamation about atheism and the ultimate frontier of hope, Chödrön points out that at the heart of Buddhism’s approach is not the escapism of religion but the realism of secular philosophy. And yet these crude demarcations fail to capture the subtlety of these teachings. She clarifies:
The difference between theism and nontheism is not whether one does or does not believe in God… Theism is a deep-seated conviction that there’s some hand to hold: if we just do the right things, someone will appreciate us and take care of us. It means thinking there’s always going to be a babysitter available when we need one. We all are inclined to abdicate our responsibilities and delegate our authority to something outside ourselves. Nontheism is relaxing with the ambiguity and uncertainty of the present moment without reaching for anything to protect ourselves.
Hopelessness is the basic ground. Otherwise, we’re going to make the journey with the hope of getting security… Begin the journey without hope of getting ground under your feet. Begin with hopelessness.
When inspiration has become hidden, when we feel ready to give up, this is the time when healing can be found in the tenderness of pain itself… In the midst of loneliness, in the midst of fear, in the middle of feeling misunderstood and rejected is the heartbeat of all things.
Only through such active self-compassion to our own darkness, Chödrön suggests, can we begin to offer authentic light to anybody else, to become a force of radiance in the world. She writes:
We don’t set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people’s hearts.
Complement the immensely grounding and elevating When Things Fall Apart with Camus on strength of character in times of trouble, Erich Fromm on what self-love really means, and Nietzsche on why a fulfilling life requires embracing rather than running from difficulty, then revisit Chödrön on the art of letting go.