Over the past few weeks, I’ve seen examples of courage that have blown me away.
Like millions of us, I watched the fabulous Brene Brown special on Netflix, which reinforced what I believe courage looks like. As Brene so beautifully states, courage starts with showing up and letting yourself be seen.
I want to share two examples of courage personified that I’ve witnessed over the past few weeks.
Courage in Self-Discovery
As many of you know, our son courageously let himself be seen in a very public way when he came out on social media as transgender on Transvisibility Day. He bravely told us three months ago that he’s struggled with feeling like he wasn’t in the right body for a long time, and he wanted to start the journey of self-discovery with regards to gender identity. He wants to explore this now, not years down the road. Even though Scott and I are incredibly supportive of LGBTQ, I know it still took IMMENSE courage to talk to us about his feelings and wishes. I can say right now, I wouldn't have had the courage to do anything of the sort at his age. To put myself out there like that in order to be my authentic self.
He showed up in a very big way and let himself be seen. He is courage personified and I am inspired by him to continue to practice this level of vulnerability and courage in my own life.
Courage in Diving into the Fear/Unknown
I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know a young man who is not only highly intuitive, but a man of great faith. Christian faith. As you can imagine, when he started to experience visions, voices, and dark energy attacks, he was terrified. I know that level of fear because I’ve been there. It happened to me when I first started to understand just how highly intuitive I am (when I was 36) so I hoped I could help him in a way that would bring more peace and understanding into his life.
I’m blown away by the courage he showed just being willing to come talk with me (a total stranger) and share his personal experiences with tears in his eyes. And I’m in awe of the courage he continues to show in truly owning that there is purpose in what he’s experienced and that he has the power to implement changes in thinking that boost his level of self-authority. Ultimately, he now has control over the scary happenings that plagued him for months and he’s learning how to manage his intuition and not be fearful of the God-given power he has within.
Witnessing both of these beautiful souls crack open their hearts to be who they are meant to be in the world is an honor, to say the least. As we all know, life is messy, complicated, and very uncomfortable at times but if we continue to listen to our intuition, we’ll always be on the right road, no matter what our head (or other people) might be telling us at the time.
For example, I followed my intuition and fought to give the Tedx Talk I knew I was meant to give in Sedona in November. I knew that censoring the talk and taking out bits of my journey in order to please the folks in charge was not what I felt in my heart was the right thing to do so I fought to keep in the parts about working on cold cases with law enforcement and visions coming to me out of nowhere.
Just this past week, I finally heard from TEDx staff in NYC why my talk (that I gave back in November) hadn’t been published yet. (I’m one of three presenters whose talks have not published because of this very thing.) Turns out, they feel my talk violates the content guidelines set by TED. I am still waiting on information regarding exactly what they feel violates the guidelines. Visions? #Metoo? Repression of memories? Talk of abuse? I’m hoping they will share this information soon.
From what I’ve read, they have the right to put a disclaimer on the talk, publish it only on the local TED website, or ban it all together. There are many TEDx talks that include intuition and one in particular was presented by a professional intuitive medium so it will be interesting to learn exactly what the problem is but I can tell you this—it’s all happening exactly the way it is supposed to happen. I’m no stranger to this type of scenario. It happened with Shark Tank, too. And the outcome was better than I could have imagined.
I’ll keep you all posted but I feel very peaceful about how it’s all unfolding and I will make sure that my talk is published regardless of the decision by TED. Nothing about my journey, nor Noah’s or my young friend I mentioned earlier, has been “comfortable” but maybe it’s not supposed to be.
Maybe we’re supposed to always strive to be exactly who we know we are in our heart and soul, unapologetically and authentically. No matter what society tells us.
So be brave.
Be unapologetically authentic.
What you allow will continue.
This was a hard one for me to “get” over the years. I was always giving the benefit of the doubt or operating from a place of fear. “What will happen if I say no to this person?” I finally broke this pattern by honoring my feelings and setting boundaries.
Follow your intuition and pay attention to the physical sensations you get — kick in the gut feelings, heaviness in your chest, etc. Sometimes your body will tell you to set boundaries with someone (or clear them from your life) before your mind will.
#boundaries #energyiseverything #intuition #abusesurvivor #healthyrelationships #energyattractsenergy #findyourtribe #physicalsigns
It's amazing to me that even now—after having escaped sociopathic abuse over a year and a half ago—I'm still recognizing that what I endured was not specific to me. I'm one of thousands (probably millions) who endured the same type of abuse in the same sequence. I've joked with other survivors (those related to my ex and those who were targeted by other toxic people) that there must be some kind of playbook handed out when it's decided the abuser is going to play the role of the psychopath/sociopath in this life.
To that point, another target of my ex let me know via a comment on my blog that she "dodged a bullet" with him after reading my blog posts. I'm assuming the same tactics and ploys were used to the point that when she read my blog, she recognized all of them as all-star "plays" that he used on woman after woman. Same lines. Same songs. Same promises. Same poor me stories. Same lies. Same "my ex is crazy and sick" stories. Turns out, he's not the only sociopathic Casanova running around executing these plays with the precision of an NFL quarterback—it's a common thread among ALL psychopaths. I can say first hand, when I watched Bravo's true story miniseries, Dirty John, my jaw hit the floor multiple times through much of the story that ended in death. So. Many. Similarities.
I recently read Psychopath Free, one of the best books on the subject of psychologically abusive relationships ever printed, and was struck by the validation it provided with regards to the playbook of social media tactics, manipulation of "the following", and retaliation after the relationship is over.
Jackson MacKenzie, author of Psychopath Free, writes, "Technology makes it so much easier for the psychopath to manipulate through triangulation....and they will strategically post ambiguous statuses, songs, and videos that suggest you might be "losing" them. They will share things that are intentionally meant to lure in the new and old targets."
Towards the end, I started to notice that the once lovey-dovey, romantic posts published about me were being replaced with passive aggressive memes aimed to do two things: suggest to "the following" and new targets I didn't know were targets that we were going down in flames and it was all my fault AND to ensure I saw that others were supporting him, i.e., triangulation. The man who once posted how much he loved that I used my mediumship skills to help grieving parents was now insinuating that I was choosing the afterlife over him...and asking others how they felt about that. You can imagine the support he got from "the following" when he posted it. I didn't recognize what it was at the time, I just went on the defensive like I had to keep explaining why I do what I do (and have done long before him), which was no different from when he met me. But now, somehow, it was wrong. After working with many survivors of this type of psychological abuse, I understand that what is praised and valued in the beginning (i.e., what makes you who you are) will be berated in the middle and publicly questioned in the end. And it's all part of the game. Systematically applauding who you are then tearing at the very fabric of your soul is at the sick heart of this type of abuse.
To quote Psychopath Free, "No matter how much they abuse their partners, toxic people will always have a loyal following of fans cheering for everything they do. These people are blinded by shallow flattery that the manipulators use to control them. Fan clubs change often, as psychopaths' friendships are neither deep nor meaningful in any way. All that matters is constant attention and adoration. Anyone who fails to provide this mindless reinforcement will promptly be replaced with someone who can."
The minute the fan recognizes inconsistencies and questions something, they're out. Unless the abuser feels he or she can get something of value from the person. I've seen it over and over again. The irony is the same person who claims to "not like drama" is constantly causing drama and upheaval within friendship circles. Fans, investors, clients, and family: everyone is at risk of being blocked and discarded. Blindly supporting (the majority of fans) or acting like you're a fan because the abuser owes you money or something like that is a mode of operation for some characters playing the role of the flying monkeys. The latter would say keep your enemies closer. I don't subscribe to that thought model because I feel it is anything but authentic and lacks integrity, but I see why some do this in the name of hope. Hope that they aren't eternally burned by the psychopath despite knowing the reality of the situation.
I shared the truth of what the relationship was after it ended. It wasn't something I was particularly keen on doing but I also knew that the only way to combat the calculated lies that were being shared about me was to tell the whole, ugly, embarrassing truth. I fell for a psychopath while I was married. I had to come clean about how and why, and all the mistakes I made along the journey. I'm not proud, but I know my story is not unique, and it's one that's helping others related and unrelated to him.
With that said, I knew retaliation was coming the moment I pressed PUBLISH on my blog. And boy did it come. Publicly and privately. I'm not going to rehash it here—all of the legal documents are posted on this blog . What I am going to do is again share a passage from Psychopath Free: "When the psychopath is the one who's discarded, you should prepare yourself for months (if not years) of harassment. Until they find another victim, they will pour all they're rage into ruining your life through intimidation and scare tactics. THEY WILL INVENT ONLINE PERSONAS TO CYBERSTALK YOU. This gives them the illusion of control..."
That happened to me, too. Fake FB personas writing to me telling me to stop talking about what I endured. Harassment of others involved in helping me tell my truth and theirs, as it pertained to him. The list goes on.
Again, another go-to play for psychopaths. Keep your mouth shut and you're spared. Be open about the reality and you face the covert and overt firing squad.
I'm grateful for authors like Jackson Mackenzie who are writing about this type of abuse. In this digital age, we have to be vigilant about who and what we trust. I wasn't at all. I trusted others opinions who were just as snowed as I was, in the beginning.
Also, look for signs that the play book is being used daily, and the new friend you met online (and possibly even through friends) might be anything but authentic. He or she might just be a well-practiced psychopath looking for the next target.
Most of us who have gotten to the other side of an abusive relationship know Shannon Thomas and her work with abuse survivors. She's instrumental in helping millions with her book Healing from Hidden Abuse, and this blog post (below) that she wrote for survivors' family and friends in 2015.
As a therapist, she recognized how difficult it can be for family and friends to understand what their loved one is/was going through. I was no exception. The expectation is that getting out of a relationship with a narcissist, sociopath, or psychopath is like any other break up. It's not. I recently read somewhere that survivors can expect to spend 18-24 months recovering. And I believe that in my soul.
From Shannon Thomas:
Family and Friends: Your Loved One Isn't Crazy
From reading the title, you might be wondering what this post is going to be about. I am writing this for the family and friends of survivors of psychological abuse. Why? Because I hear from many survivors who say that it is incredibly hard for them to describe the insidiousness of the abuse they experienced and many family and friends just don’t know how to support their loved one through the steps of recovery. There is so much to be said on this topic but I am going to try and just hit the highlights.....
When I’m talking with other abuse survivors who survived relationships with sociopaths and narcissists, I hear, “I wish I would have woken up sooner.”
“If only I had put a final stop to it all before I did.”
“I can’t believe I let it go on so long.”
Believe me, I get it. And I’ve said those things before but the further away I get from the abuse, the more I realize that maybe it ended when it should have ended. No earlier, no later.
One thing I know for sure is survivors carry around a lot of guilt and shame to begin with, whether it’s self-inflicted or not. Shaming oneself (or being shamed) for not getting out of an abusive relationship earlier undermines the survivor who is desperately trying to stand on her/his feet again after enduring pure hell. Personally, the survivors I know are the strongest, most loving people on the planet.
With that said, I know in my heart that if my personal hell would have been cut shorter than it was, I wouldn’t have learned several very valuable lessons about the journey I was on to heal myself. And I wouldn’t have learned different types of drastic measures taken/used when the abuser doesn’t want the partner to leave. Measures that I’ve been able to pass on to other survivors who, like me, were finally able to recognize the manipulation at hand and stop blaming themselves. I’ve taught a few how to investigate for proof, when proof is available. It’s the proof that helps survivors see the truth of everything they endured. It wasn’t until I saw proof of what I had suspected that I started making my way down the long, dark hall to the final exit door.
For those of you struggling or on the other side but you’re trying to make sense of what happened, know that what I’m about to describe is sadly textbook M.O. for many abusers. When you start to recognize emotional and psychological abuse in a relationship, the lengths to which the abuser will go to in order to keep control and reel you back can be drastic and unthinkable.
Had my relationship ended before it did, I wouldn’t have been on the receiving end of the:
I didn’t know that a loved one would be capable of causing such horrific pain by pretending to be hospitalized for a heart attack and then cutting off communication for a good length of time (silent treatment) AND would then go on to pretend to be standing on a bridge about to jump while I was 3000 miles away.
My intuition (and my detective skills from working on cold cases) came in handy, even though I still believed he was telling the truth the whole time he was sending me messages, because something felt off. In both cases, I resorted to tear-filled fact finding. In the case of the fake heart attack, I called every hospital in Philly to learn that not one had admitted someone by his name. (Unless the patient specifies their name not be given out, the hospital is allowed to confirm the patient is hospitalized.) Later on, I went straight to the source (those who knew where he was at the time) and received confirmation that despite a very elaborate tale of heart attack symptoms, an ambulance ride, his mother and brother by his side supposedly texting me on his phone from his hospital room shaming me for causing the heart attack, there was indeed no heart attack. No hospital stay. Only a ploy to make me feel it was my fault—which was thrown at me multiple times—and a way to reel me back into the relationship.
I continued talking to him despite knowing that he was likely lying about all of it, but at the time, I didn’t have the proof I needed to know for sure. Abusers tend to be very good at lying and part of me wanted to believe he wasn’t capable of doing something like this. To add insult to injury, I was still stuck in the cycle of abuse both emotionally and chemically, I just didn’t realize it. I went back to believing him even though my intuition was screaming at me.
About the time I was starting to pull away again after more abuse and control, the second ploy was, well, employed. This time it was a suicide attempt. Again, I believed him. I was in tears pleading with him to slow down and take a breath on text. He wouldn’t talk on the phone. Again, he blamed me for hurting him so deeply that he was led to the bridge that night to end his life. “Goodbye, my precious precious, love,” he wrote. Of course, this was after writing that he wished he’d never met me and that no one would ever hurt him again like I hurt him. I threatened to get his cousin involved in order to stop him from doing what I thought he was about to do. He flew into a rage. I now know why: he wasn’t about to jump. Hell, he was probably sitting in his car somewhere fabricating this whole scene while smoking a cigarette and drinking coffee.
In a puddle of tears, I frantically called one of my dearest friends who is an intuitive and she said, “Kiers, this isn’t true. He’s trying to reel you back in. He needs your reaction.” My cousin said the same thing. Others around me pleaded with me to recognize that it was, again, just a tall, excruciatingly painful tale. This time, it hit home.
A short time later, I came to learn that the bridge he mentioned in his text message to me was not a large bridge like I was envisioning in my head. Not even close. For the record, maybe he didn’t think I’d go as far as to investigate this (or that he should have used a different name of a bridge) but I did and I couldn’t believe my eyes. Turns out, this particular bridge is featured all over Youtube as a family-friendly place for pre-teens to jump into the water below while the camera is rolling. Parents are applauding their daredevil kids who decided to take the plunge off the beautiful, stone golf course bridge. The height of the bridge suggests that a jump off of it into unusually shallow water might possibly cause a break or a bruise. Or maybe he would have simply gotten lucky and found a few lost golf balls.
I’m now grateful to know the truth of all of it and be able to pass on the lengths psychological abusers will go to in order to keep control in a relationship. Before I experienced it, I never imagined it possible. Who knows, maybe the timing of this post will help someone struggling with something similar. I sure hope it does. And I hope if you’re beating yourself up about how long it is taking (or how long it took) to get out of an abusive relationship, you will take some comfort in knowing that there might just be a bigger picture you can’t see in the moment. Just keep trusting your intuition and keep searching for answers.
Timing truly does mean everything.