Fear of engulfment in an intimate relationship

Please subscribe to Coach Vaillant newsletter for new exclusive content

Lire la version en Français

Differentiating fear of engulfment with codependency and trauma bonding

Codependency is different from fear of engulfment. Codependent people have no sense of self, and have an extreme focus on others as a result. They are needy, terrified of being alone, and cannot function on their own. They have no autonomy. They want people in their lives not because they love them but because they cannot exist as an independent being. They can have anxious attachment though it is not always the case.

Trauma bonding came from bonding with an abusive parent or caretaker. The child had to face constant invalidation of their feelings. Borderline personality disorder and disorganized attachment develop as a result. It is different from fear of engulfment because the person wants to stay attached to their abuser though they may be terrified and resentful. It follows the “I hate you, don’t leave me” pattern. They may have been the scapegoat in a family dynamic.

So what is fear of engulfment?

Fear of engulfment is the fear of getting controlled by the romantic partner or losing yourself in the relationship. It is a very strong fear of being swallowed by the partner. Fear of engulfment comes from enmeshment trauma and acts as a major obstacle in intimate relationships. Their attachment style is the avoidant. They are often over independent or self-reliant as they are so afraid on relying on others to get their needs met. It is difficult for them to receive from other people as they do not want to owe anything in return. They are terrified of trapped-indebtedness. They are suspicious of other people initially as they are perceived as dangerous. They live their intimate relationship in their head instead of their heart. They compare and have often impossible high standards for their partner who can never be enough. They see their partner as someone restricting their freedom. They are overwhelmed by being responsible for someone else’s feelings as they were taught it was their job to fix if their loved one was unhappy, even if it means we are losing ourselves in the process. They are confused between self-love and selfishness so carry a lot of shame about taking care of themselves in a nurturing way. As a result, they often do what they do not want to do in a relationship and resent it later. These people have often a compulsive need to succeed to compensate for the lack of love and connection in their life. They desperately need to prove to themselves that they are lovable and worthy and external success is a way they reassure themselves. They experience a form of social isolation and spend less time than others in social settings. As a result, they get less feedback than others about social clues and develop personality quirks that are often socially inappropriate. Because they were the Golden Child, they experience emotions as an adult that are polar opposites: talented and worthless, blessed and cursed, favored and picked on. As soon as someone wants something from him, his terror of losing himself is activated, and he automatically resists his partner. He does not even think of asking himself if he wants to do whatever the other person wants from him or if it is in his highest good. He just resists. He resists because not being controlled is more important to him than anything. Not being controlled is more important than being loved. The irony is that he is being controlled by his obsession of not being controlled.

The fear of engulfment hides a fear of rejection and abandonment

In truth, the avoidant avoids himself before he avoids others. When the avoidant shuts down to others, it is just a reflection of his inner walls because he is so afraid of being hurt again. He doesn’t want to attach to someone special because he is so afraid of the pain of separation. However, if he doesn’t attach, the relationship is doomed so he keeps experiencing abandonment which comforts him in his conviction that attaching is dangerous. This becomes a vicious cycle. It seems counter intuitive that the Golden (Chosen) Child would feel unlovable however being enmeshed with one parent often provokes the resentment of the other parent and siblings. The avoidant is so afraid of being rejected that he would rather take care of all his needs himself. He makes it impossible for others to provide for him and cater for his needs. He feels threatened by intimacy because of his fear of rejection and getting badly hurt in the process. This connects to childhood trauma. Like everyone, he wants to be loved but he has decided that love is too dangerous. When someone gets too close to him, he gives up on his desire to be loved because he sees it as the only possibility not to get hurt. He shuts down the part of himself that is starving for intimacy. He doesn’t believe his heart is resilient enough to recover and learn from a break-up.

Resulting relationship issues

The adult Golden Child who defended against the invasive parent by
building a wall will not let in their spouse. The love avoidant is typically attracted to the love anxious because she represents his disowned self: the insecure child that had to disconnect not to face the pain of rejection. The partner feels unloved, rejected and uncared for. When they become too starved emotionally, they just leave the relationship. They are often attracted to self-centered partners as well. This is their way of re-creating unconsciously the dynamics of the parent-child relationship. These partners will reflect that other people’s needs are more important than their own, another trauma from their childhood. Or they may attract someone who is just as inattentive and emotionally unavailable as they are so that they may experience what it feels to be with someone who is guarded. It may be very difficult for anyone of their partners to match with their enmeshed parent who is idolized. No one is good enough compared to mum or dad. The favored parent replays the same dynamic in return to show that no partner will ever have a closer relationship than they have. The avoidant is prone to have affairs as it fulfills his desire for physical intimacy and ego rubbing without any emotional commitment. He is very critical of his mates as this allows him not to become too close to them. He always believes there is another better option, someone more beautiful, younger, smarter or wealthier.

What are the childhood traumas that created the fear of engulfment?

Girl Hiding in Corner

I was deeply enmeshed with my mother as a child. She had deep abandonment traumas because she was raised in the foster care system. I was parentified to meet all of her emotional needs. I was the Golden Child. Then, when I was 9, she left me behind to start a new life and I was left with my absent father for 18 months. Considering this background, this is no surprise that I have had such a hard time with the fear of engulfment in my romantic life. We become intimacy phobic when intimacy and closeness were associated with pain in the past. As the Golden Child, we learn to deny our own needs to the benefit of our parent. We understand that our parent’s life is better when we ask for nothing and our parent feels better because they believe they have risen a model child. Here are some of the signs that you were enmeshed:

  • The child is a source of emotional support for the parent, and is the parent’s best friend
  • The parent shares age inappropriate information with the child
  • The parent says in confidence that he is the favorite, most talented of lovable child
  • The child connection with other children is discouraged
  • The child feels guilty when he spends too much time away from the parent
  • The child unique and positive qualities are not reinforced
  • The child independence is discouraged
  • They are very porous boundaries between the child and the adult
  • One parent was chronically lonely, angry or depressed
  • The parents live an isolated life with few friends
  • The child feels responsible for the parent
  • The child is parentified
  • The parent is over-involved in the child’s life
  • The parent pretends to be self-sacrificing
  • The child is not provided with a structure and limits that guaranties his safety
  • The parent is incapable of taking care of his adult needs
  • One or both parents had substance abuse problems
  • The boyfriend of girlfriend is never good enough for the parent
  • The parents were divorced, widowed or did not get along
  • There was a lack of money that caused parents and children to stay home with each other more than it is healthy

In summary, the parent is ignoring the needs of the child. The parent uses the child to satisfy needs that should be met instead by other adults – romance, companionship, intimacy, advice, problem solving and ego fulfillment. Children cannot handle that much psychological pressure as they are not equipped to fulfill adults’ intimacy needs. When the parent says “You are such an easy child”, it is meant “Don’t feel any negative emotions”. When the parent says “You are so special”, it is meant “Be what I need you to be. I have needs you have to satisfy”. Their future love life will suffer immensely as a result. The child is not given the attention he needs to grow-up as a healthy emotional being. There is simply not enough adequate protection, guidance, structure, affection, nurturing and discipline. Their development stops and they get stuck in a narcissist stage of development. The cycle of disconnection continues as we treat our loved ones as we were once treated. Because the enmeshed relationship is all-encompassing, we recreate the need for this intense fusion at the beginning of the relationship that quickly erodes to meet with resistance.

Solutions to break away from enmeshment

Because the enmeshment started with the parent-child relationship, we need to realign our relationship with our parents. The relationship with our parents is very important because it influences the rest of our relationships. We need to relate to our parents from our adult part rather than the child in us that feels controlled. We set clear boundaries with our parents when it is necessary without feeling overly disappointed if they fail to honor them. We become objective about who they are, their qualities but also their shortcomings. We accept them as they are without compromising ourselves in the process. We are supportive but not to our detriment. We stop blaming them for our difficulties as we empower ourselves to make the necessary changes in our lives. We understand that the aspects in them that trigger us the most, are the ones that caused the most psychological damage in us. They also trigger us the most because they mirror unsavory aspects of us that we are too ashamed to see.

If we have children, we can deprogram the enmeshment by raising our children differently. We keep reassuring our child of our unconditional love. We refuse all forms of emotional manipulation through guilt or coercion. We may use the Love and Logic educational method instead to encourage them to take good and positive actions. We do not hesitate to apologize and explain why when we make mistakes as parents. We practice what we preach. We only share with them information that they can handle given their age and maturity. We encourage their independence without making them feel pushed away. We respect their free will without giving up on our important responsibilities as a parent.

The most important work we can do is however with our romantic partner. We commit to an authentic relationship where we overcome our shame to express our true feelings in a constructive way. We transcend our fear of rejection to be truthful. We face the guilt of hurting our partner by sharing our authentic truth. We are attuned and compassionate in the process, not cold and disconnected. We express our boundaries with clarity and in the most gentle way. We refuse any form of manipulation and calculation for our own little benefit. We make space for the aspects of us that are afraid of intimacy and we explore the traumas and the hurt that are behind. This will catalyze our healing. We treat the other person as we would like to be treated. We commit to listen to our own feelings, and to listen to this inner compass no matter what the consequences may be.

Your ideal partner is the one that represents your repressed inner child. Instead of shutting them down as we have done in our early life to survive emotionally, we reverse the process to celebrate them. We give them everything our inner child did not receive. By loving them this way, this immature part that is the seat of our soul can grow again. Then we can become whole and wake up to a life that feels good.

French translation below – Article en Français ci-dessous

Qu’est-ce que la peur de l’envahissement au sein d’une relation intime? Et comment la dépasser?

Il est important de commencer par différencier cette peur affective de la co-dépendance et de l’attachement pervers. La co-dépendance est différente de la peur de l’envahissement. Les gens co-dépendants n’ont pas d’identité propre. Par conséquent, tous leurs comportements tournent autour d’autres personnes qui sont en général narcissiques. Ils n’ont aucune idée de leurs propres besoins ou identité, ils sont terrifiés d’être seuls, et ne peuvent pas fonctionner par eux-mêmes. Ils ne disposent d’aucune autonomie. Ils veulent des gens dans leur vie non pas parce qu’ils les aiment, mais parce qu’ils ne peuvent pas exister en tant qu’être indépendant. Ils peuvent avoir un attachement anxieux/ambivalent même si ce n’est pas toujours le cas.

L’attachement désorganisé/désorienté vient de la relation avec un parent maltraitant. L’enfant a dû constamment faire face à l’invalidation de ses émotions. C’est ainsi que se développe le trouble de la personnalité limite (borderline). Ceci est bien différent de la peur de l’envahissement car la personne souhaite rester attachée au parent maltraitant. Cette relation suit le modèle « Je te hais, ne me quitte pas ». Ils ont souvent été le bouc-émissaire dans une dynamique familiale narcissique.

Qu’est-ce donc que cette peur de l’envahissement?

La peur de l’envahissement est la peur d’être contrôlé par son partenaire ou de se perdre dans la relation. C’est la peur d’être envahi par le partenaire. La peur de l’envahissement vient d’anciens traumatismes et est un obstacle majeur dans les relations amoureuses. Leur style d’attachement est “évitant” selon la célèbre théorie de l’attachement de John Bowlby. Ils sont souvent très indépendants car ils ont très peur de compter sur les autres pour satisfaire leurs besoins. Il leur est difficile de recevoir car ils ne veulent pas devoir quoi que ce soit en retour. Ils se méfient des autres personnes qu’ils ne considèrent pas comme dignes de confiance. Ils vivent la relation intime dans leur tête et non pas dans leur cœur. Ils comparent et ont souvent des exigences impossibles pour leur partenaire qui n’est jamais assez bien. Ils voient leur partenaire comme une personne qui restreint leur liberté. Ils se sentent envahis à l’idée d’être responsable de quelqu’un d’autre. Ils sont ont du mal à discerner l’amour de soi de l’égoïsme. Ils ont honte de prendre soin d’eux-mêmes. Ils font souvent ce qu’ils ne veulent pas faire dans une relation par peur du rejet et en éprouvent du ressentiment plus tard. Ces personnes ont souvent un besoin compulsif de réussir professionnellement afin de compenser le manque affectif de leur vie. Ils ont désespérément besoin de se prouver qu’ils sont dignes d’amour et respectables donc le succès extérieur est un moyen de les rassurer. Ils sont isolés socialement et passent moins de temps que les autres en groupe. Par conséquent, ils reçoivent moins de retour que les autres sur les normes sociales et développent fréquemment des personnalités excentriques voir anti-sociales. Parce qu’ils ont souvent joué le rôle de “l’enfant parfait” au sein d’une famille narcissique, ils ressentent beaucoup d’émotions contradictoires une fois adultes: talentueux ou nul, béni ou maudit, avantagé ou persécuté. Dès qu’un partenaire leur demande quelque chose, leur terreur de se perdre dans l’autre est activée, et ils s’opposent automatiquement à ce dernier quelque soit le bien-fondé de la requête. Ne pas se sentir contrôlés devient pour eux la chose la plus importante, bien plus que de se sentir aimé. L’ironie est qu’ils sont en fait contrôlés par leur obsession de ne pas être contrôlés.

La crainte de l’envahissement cache une peur du rejet et d’abandon

En vérité, la personne “évitante” s’évite avant d’éviter les autres. Lorsque les personnes “évitantes” se ferment aux autres, elles le font essentiellement par peur de rejet. Elles ne veulent pas s’attacher à un nouvel amour parce qu’elles ont en fait peur de la douleur de la séparation qu’elles ressentent comme inéluctable. Cependant, à moins qu’elles ne s’engagent dans la relation, le couple est voué à l’échec et elles se retrouvent donc dans un cercle vicieux. Les cycles de rupture amoureuse dus à ses propres blocages émotionnels les isolent chaque fois un peu plus.

Le fait que “l’enfant parfait” ne se sente pas digne d’amour semble contradictoire. Cependant la préférence d’un parent provoque souvent le rejet de l’autre conjoint et aussi celui des frères et des sœurs. La personne “évitante” a tellement peur d’être rejetée qu’elle préfère être la seule en charge de tous ses besoins. C’est donc très difficile de lui venir en aide et de lui apporter un réconfort car elle garde tous ses proches à distance. Elle se sent menacée par toute relation intime à cause de traumatismes passés qui viennent en général de l’enfance. Comme tout le monde, cette personne veut être aimée, mais elle a décidé que l’amour et l’intimité sont trop dangereux. Quand quelqu’un devient trop proche d’elle, elle renonce à son désir d’être aimée parce qu’elle considère que c’est la seule possibilité pour ne pas avoir le coeur brisé. Elle ne croit pas que son cœur soit assez fort pour guérir et apprendre d’une rupture amoureuse. 

Des problèmes relationnels récurrents

L’adulte qui était auparavant un “enfant parfait” et qui a mis en place des mécanismes de défense contre le parent envahissant et narcissique aura beaucoup de difficultés à s’ouvrir à son conjoint. Selon la théorie de l’attachement, la personne “évitante” est en générale attirée par un partenaire “anxieux/ambivalent” car il représente un aspect en elle qu’elle a réprimé: cet enfant intérieur rempli d’insécurité qui a dû se déconnecter de ses proches pour se protéger émotionnellement. Et par effet miroir, son partenaire se sent aussi mal aimé, rejeté et laissé pour compte. Et quand la relation devient insupportable, ils rompent. Ils sont aussi souvent attirés par des partenaires égocentriques. C’est leur façon de recréer inconsciemment l’ancienne dynamique de la relation parent-enfant. Ces partenaires narcissiques leur renvoient que les besoins des autres sont plus importants que les leurs, un autre traumatisme de leur enfance. Ils peuvent aussi attirer quelqu’un qui est tout aussi inattentif et émotionnellement indisponible qu’eux-même afin de ressentir leur froideur affective. Ils continuent à idolâtrer leurs parents même à l’âge adulte et leur partenaire n’arrive jamais à la hauteur du parent, qui en retour n’hésite pas à critiquer le conjoint pour renforcer l’idée qu’aucun partenaire ne pourra jamais rivaliser avec la relation parent-enfant. Tout cela est aussi un moyen pour garder leurs partenaires intimes à distance et de trop s’attacher à eux. La personne “évitante” est susceptible d’avoir des aventures extra-conjugales car cela satisfait son besoin d’intimité et d’amour physique sans le risque d’engagement émotionnel. Elle croit toujours qu’il y a une autre meilleure option, quelqu’un de plus beau, de plus jeune, de plus intelligent ou de plus riche. 

Quels sont les traumatismes de l’enfance qui créent la peur de l’envahissement?

J’étais en fusion avec ma mère quand j’étais enfant. Ayant été élevée à l’assistance publique, elle avait des traumatismes profonds d’abandon. Je devins donc parentifié pour répondre à tous ses besoins émotionnels ce qui était amplifié par le fait que mon père ne remplissait pas émotionnellement son rôle de mari. J’étais dans ce contexte “l’enfant parfait” selon la terminologie de la théorie de l’enfant parentifié. Puis, quand j’ai eu 9 ans, elle a quitté le domicile familial pour commencer une nouvelle vie et je suis resté alors seul avec un père qui ne me manifestait guère d’affection pendant 18 mois avant qu’elle ne me récupère. Compte tenu de ce contexte d’abandon, il n’est guère surprenant que j’ai eu des difficultés dans mes relations de couple. Nous avons peur de la proximité amoureuse quand cette même intimité nous a apporté tant de souffrances par le passé. En tant qu’“enfant parfait”, nous apprenons à nier nos propres besoins au profit de ceux de nos parents. Nous avons appris que nos parents sont de meilleure humeur quand nous ne demandons rien et qu’ils croient ainsi avoir fait un enfant modèle. Nous étions impuissants et ne faisions que subir ces traumatismes lors de l’enfance, cependant nous avons désormais le pouvoir de guérir ces troubles affectifs par le travail intérieur.

Voici quelques-uns des signes que vous avez eu une relation trop fusionnelle avec un parent qui peut être source de cet envahissement:

  • L’enfant est une source de soutien affectif pour les parents, et est le meilleur ami du parent
  • Les parents partagent des informations qui sont inappropriées au vu de l’âge de l’enfant
  • Le parent dit à l’enfant en toute confidence qu’il est le favori et le plus talentueux de ses frères et soeurs
  • Les relations proches avec d’autres enfants sont découragées
  • L’enfant se sent coupable dès qu’il passe trop de temps loin de la mère
  • Les dons et qualités uniques de l’enfant ne sont pas renforcés si cela n’est pas utile au parent
  • L’indépendance de l’enfant est découragé
  • L’un des parents souffrait de solitude, d’alcoolisme, de dépression ou de rages incontrôlées
  • Les parents vivaient une vie isolée avec peu d’amis
  • L’enfant se sent responsable du bien-être du parent
  • L’enfant est parentifié
  • Le parent est trop impliqué dans la vie de l’enfant
  • Les parents se plaignent souvent de se sacrifier pour leurs enfants
  • L’enfant n’a pas un cadre qui lui permet de se sentir en sécurité
  • Le parent est incapable de subvenir par lui-même à ses besoins d’adulte
  • Un ou les deux parents avaient des problèmes de toxicomanie
  • Le petit ami de la petite amie (ou vice et versa) n’est jamais assez bon pour le parent
  • Les parents ont divorcé ou ne s’entendaient pas. Un des parents est mort jeune
  • Il y avait un manque d’argent dans la famille ce qui incitait à rester tout le temps à la maison

Dans ce contexte, le parent ne tenait pas compte des besoins propres de l’enfant. Au contraire, le parent utilise l’enfant pour satisfaire des besoins qui devraient être satisfaits par d’autres adultes – l’intimité, l’amitié, la résolution de problèmes d’adultes ou se donner un sens dans l’existence. Les enfants n’ont pas la capacité émotionnelle à faire face à autant de pression psychique. Lorsque ce genre de parent dit: « Tu es un enfant si facile », il sous-entend «N’exprime pas d’émotions négatives». Lorsque le parent dit: « Tu es si mignon », il sous-entend « Sois ce que je veux que tu sois car j’ai des besoins à satisfaire ». La vie affective future de l’enfant souffrira énormément de ce conditionnement car l’enfant n’a pas reçu l’attention et l’amour inconditionnel dont il avait besoin pour grandir de manière saine et harmonieuse. Leur développement émotionnel s’arrête et comme leurs parents, ils restent bloqués dans une phase narcissique. C’est un cercle vicieux qui se répète de génération en génération jusqu’à ce que l’enfant devenu adulte fasse le travail intérieur nécessaire. Sinon, nous sautons d’une relation passionnelle à une autre afin de recréer le sentiment de fusion avec le parent avant de revivre le même envahissement. Mais une relation amoureuse ne peut supporter autant de projections et de pression et ce n’est qu’une question de temps avant que les disputes et les reproches ne remplacent l’infatuation première.

Solutions pour dépasser l’envahissement affectif et psychique

Parce que cet envahissement a commencé avec la relation parent-enfant, nous avons besoin de remettre en question les relations avec nos parents. La relation avec les parents est très importante car elle influe sur le reste de nos relations. Nous devons apprendre à communiquer avec nos parents en tant qu’adulte plutôt que de rester figer dans le rôle de l’enfant qui se sentaient contrôlé. Nous fixons un cadre claire avec nos parents quand cela est nécessaire mais nous ne sommes pas trop déçus s’ils sont incapables de le suivre. Nous devenons objectifs sur qui ils sont, leurs qualités mais aussi leurs défauts. Nous les acceptons comme ils sont sans pour autant tolérer tout comportement toxique. Nous les soutenons comme nous le pouvons, mais pas à notre détriment. Nous arrêtons de les blâmer pour nos propres difficultés et nous nous faisons confiance pour créer la vie que nous souhaitons.

Nous comprenons que les situations qui nous blessent le plus sont reliées à des traumatismes passés non résolus. Nous souffrons émotionnellement car nous résistons à voir ces aspect en nous qui font ressortir la honte ou la peur. Une manière efficace de travailler sur l‘envahissement parental est d’élever nos enfants différemment, en les rassurant souvent sur notre amour inconditionnel, en refusant toute forme de manipulation émotionnelle par la culpabilité ou la contrainte, ou en suivant des méthodes éducatives d’autorité positive et bienveillante afin de développer leur autonomie dans la responsabilité. Nous n’hésitons pas aussi à demander pardon à nos enfants lorsque nous faisons des erreurs tout en leur expliquant pourquoi. Cela évitera qu’ils nous idolâtrent et cela va les aider à s’aimer eux-mêmes en tant qu’êtres imparfaits. L’important est d’être un exemple car nos enfants apprennent avant tout de notre comportement plutôt que de nos préceptes. Nous prenons en compte leur âge et leur maturité avant de partager avec eux des informations sensibles. Nous encourageons leur indépendance sans qu’ils sentent abandonnés. Nous respectons leur libre arbitre, sans renoncer à nos responsabilités importantes en tant que parent.

Le plus important travail est cependant à faire avec notre partenaire afin de sortir de nos troubles affectifs. Nous nous engageons dans une relation authentique où nous nous efforçons de surmonter notre honte et notre culpabilité afin d’exprimer nos sentiments de manière constructive. Nous dépassons notre peur du rejet afin de dire la vérité de notre ressenti tout en restant dans l’écoute et la compassion. Nous exprimons nos limites et nos besoins personnels avec clarté et bienveillance. Nous refusons toute forme de manipulation et de calcul pour notre avantage personnel. Nous laissons s’exprimer ces aspects en nous qui ont peur de l’intimité avec présence et compassion. Nous n’avons pas peur de revivre consciemment les traumatismes qui se cachent derrière afin de catalyser notre guérison émotionnelle. Nous traitons l’autre avec le même respect et gentillesse que nous souhaiterions recevoir. 

Nous attirons en général des partenaires amoureux qui expriment naturellement notre enfant intérieur réprimé. Au lieu de les brimer comme nous en avons souffert par le passé, nous inversons le processus et nous les célébrons afin de libérer ces aspects en nous également. Nous leur donnons tout ce que notre enfant intérieur n’a pas reçu. En les aimant de cette façon, les aspects immatures en nous peuvent se développer à nouveau. Nous sommes ainsi en route vers une destinée heureuse.

Love & Compatibility – Part II

Read Love & Compatibility – Part I

Love is like war

Please subscribe to Coach Vaillant newsletter for new exclusive content

A lasting and fulfilling love relationship may be one of the rarest things to experience in this life as mere mortals. Couple issues are common and the divorce rate has been exploding all over the world over the past decades. When people needs are moving up the Maslow pyramid, from pure survival to creating a life that feels good, they have higher expectations and they aspire to an emotionally fulfilling intimate relationship. Many people are expert at projecting how good they are doing as a couple to the outside world but as soon as they are home alone, difficult arguments may start. Actually, very few couples are experiencing the following attributes that would characterize a successful intimate relationship:

  • Feeling loved, seen, understood and cared for
  • Enjoying spending time together
  • Heartfelt intimate connection that translates in feeling the other in oneself such as giving to our beloved feels better than giving to oneself
  • Physical affection including great sex
  • Lots of laugh together
  • Mutual trust

Such relationships are a very rare gift, and nothing can come even close to bring us intense happiness. Keeping it for the long run is even rarer.

THE LURE OF PASSION

The lure of passion

There is a common belief that love stories always end up badly. This is why we say falling in love instead of waking up to love. Romantic love is this intense and all-consuming feeling to merge with another. It is not rational, explainable or conscious. It feels more like a mystical state than anything else. It stems from the depth of our subconscious. It yields incredible power to change the course of any life, and its primary purpose is to break the walls required to promote our inner growth.

Romantic love is a way for nature to urge us into forcing us to solve our unresolved fragments, to bring our shadows into light and to work out our Karma. It is one of the ways for spirit to orchestrate our growth as a spiritual being having a human experience.

First, intense love attractions are about our traumatic past so that we may re-experience them in a different form to bring them back to our conscious mind, and complete healing. Girls with an absent father will automatically look for an emotionally unavailable man. They try hopelessly and futilely to be loved by them. It is their subconscious attempt to get loved by dad again. A man who was abandoned as a child will repeat over and over this pattern of abandonment with his partners. We replay the trauma of the past tragically and we get hurt badly. Some of us are able to reflect upon these difficult experiences to heal our painful past to create a life that feels good. But many of us sink even deeper into addiction, or develop mental and physical health issues.

blind love

There is nothing like love to transform us to our very core. Love relationships also act as a strong indicator of the qualities we need to develop within to become whole. We fell in love with someone because they have attributes that we want to possess. They are guiding us through our journey of self-development. We are not even conscious of this process. Attraction is based on how much a person is able to reflect our disowned self. This is why shrewd businessmen lacking empathy are often attracted to highly sensitive women. They represent the heart they have lost along the way of their financial success. Unfortunately, we quickly start doing to the object of our love what we have done to the aspect of us this person is mirroring, the aspect of us that we have disowned. We shut it down, we judge it as weak and incompetent with the repercussions we know to the detriment of the relationship. This is largely the reason why many love stories end up badly.

The first beautiful phase of a romantic relationship shows us what we can become as we achieve our full potential. These states of consciousness include feeling incredibly alive, ego dissolution, feeling one with all, sharing and feeling love with an open heart. So why don’t we go directly towards this magical potential that we all possess instead of getting lured by the reflection of this love in another human being? Why don’t we go directly for the fire of self-love and trust that a beautiful intimate relationship will manifest in this physical dimension to mirror that love?

dog love

On an amusing and anecdotal note, many people give up on human love and just buy a dog. They know that no one would ever be able to provide this level of unconditional love exhibited by their pet. Some others just turn towards God, Jesus or Buddha because an imaginary being that they project as perfect could never do them wrong. They just project the pure love potential that exists within all of our hearts to an external projection. And some others again look for self-realization. At the end, it is all the same search for love, to realize that it lays within our own heart.

LOVE AS MANIPULATION

love as manipulation

There are many wrong reasons to be in an intimate relationship with someone. We may be afraid of feeling lonely. We may feel incapable of taking care of ourselves financially, emotionally or physically. We may want to look good (or avoid looking bad) to our family, friends or community. We are ashamed of all these reasons so we manipulate to get our needs met. Seduction takes the form of manipulation. We show the other person the aspect of us that will appeal to their own insecurity and lack: we want partners with a sexy body to boost one’s self-esteem, another one with a muscular one to feel safe next to him, a wealthy partner for financial security, a witty boyfriend for fun, an intelligent girlfriend for stimulation or someone empathic for warmth and support. We all intuitively do this as part of the seduction game. So we start the relationship on the promise of what the other person is looking for, but this is a small aspect of us. Quickly, we cannot help showing who we truly are, especially if we live with our lover. All our flaws and all the dark reasons why we wanted to be in a relationship go on the open. This is the moment of shock where the beloved becomes ugly and scary. Unfortunately, we are already hooked and it is too painful to leave. It will remind us possibly of how unlovable or unattractive we are, or of the traumatic childhood event where we were abandoned. We prefer not to say anything, not to rock the boat. Tension builds in the relationship. More distance or activities outside the relationship are required to soothe this terrifying intimate mirror.

mel gibson dating young woman

However, a relationship that was based initially on something we are not or very partially is doomed. It is simply not sustainable to keep pretending. Less and less of our energy gets invested in the relationship. We start looking at other options, project our own limitations into our lover, and build resentment. We enter the relationship on the basis of manipulation and we get surprised when we get manipulated in return. This is the story of the 65-year-old dating a 25-year-old who gets shocked at the price tag that comes with it. This is a business transaction, not a relationship. One of the most common and unconscious forms of manipulation is the game between the love avoider (typically played by the man but not always) and the love anxious. As long as the woman is not attached, the man showers the woman with attention, gifts, fun outings and compliments. But as long as the woman opens her heart to the man, he gets scared, feels suffocated and the fear of commitment takes over. The woman hurts deeply as a result so she starts detaching. He panics about the lost love and with the extra distance, the man is comfortable again to pour love again into the woman and does everything he can to win her over again. But he becomes commitment-phobic as soon as he wins her back. This game can continue indefinitely.

At worst, romantic love may also become a mirage, a coping mechanism not to face our inner void or even an addiction. At best, it opens the gates of our heart and to the divine.

I have a long-time friend now in his 70s who has a long history of relationships. He has done it all. In the 90s, I knew him in a polyamorous setting with 3 beautiful women. While this could have appeared like a dream for many men reading this article, he told me recently that being alone is better than being with multiple partners. And being with a special person is better than being alone. This was his wisdom after over 50 years of relationships and it was genuine. It is so easy for us to play games, lie to ourselves, get lost in distractions rather than opening our heart to true intimacy.

LIMITS OF COMPATIBILITY

love as friendship

After being burned out so many times with the lure of passion, we may decide to take a different approach. We go online and answer the hundreds of questions of match.com and eHarmony to find a perfectly compatible partner. Enough of the drama, of the crazy step kids and the misunderstandings. We finally find someone with the same interests in life, the same culture, the same sex drive, the same diet, the same vision for life, the same social status and with kids of the same age. The relationship feels good and drama free. We feel we have finally transcended our past traumas to experience a relationship that feels good. We realize we can be friends in addition to lovers.

But after a while, we feel something is missing. We are missing the butterflies in the stomach. We crave for that intense passion that made us lose our mind. We are missing this feeling of fusion where our ego dissolves. We start wondering about the opportunity cost of compatibility. We cannot deal with the grief of missing real love, especially when we have experienced it before and we know how it feels. We may have a great loving friend but we start thinking this may prevent us from meeting our soulmate. A compatible relationship may feel more like a friendship than love. While a strong friendship between lovers makes life much easier to live, there is still the part of us that likes to be out of control and even obsessed about the object of love. This intensity is making us feel alive. When routine takes over, our lover may feel more like a roommate who shares now with us all the stress and burden of our life. At the same time, just meeting for the good times and doing fun things together feels empty after a while. We want something more, a fusion where we are able to share all of who we are, not only the bright side. We starve to be seen fully in all of our light and shadow, and to be loved with all our idiosyncrasies. But we are terrified that our partner would run away if they see our dark side. After all, the personality tests we took were all about our conscious aspects and not the defects we are ashamed of.

couple texting

In my practice, I see people with high conflict relationships that have been together for a long time, and some that never had an argument who just decide to separate. Conflict is not what ends a relationship. To some extent, we fight for things we care about. To stop caring is what ends a relationship. Some people see relationship just as a way to get one’s needs met. This is so prevalent in this time of consumerism and social media. However, a love relationship is more defined by what we are able to give than by what we are able to get. Love is not rational. It is not about convenience. It is more an art than a science. It is all about feeling, and it is hard to make sense of all these feelings. We like stability and peace, but too much of it makes us feel uneasy. The moments of doubt and uncertainty in the relationship make us remember not to take anything for granted, that we are together by choice and not because we have to. We marvel at that irrational love we cannot explain because it is unconditional. Great sex is based on duality, on the opposites that challenge each other. When we are too similar, the polarity decreases as well as the sex appeal. Sometimes, a lover may even create some futile arguments to spark some flames because she/he becomes afraid that the relationship may become dull.

DEVELOPING DEEPER INTIMACY

spiritual love

Relationships are difficult because we are a multiplicity instead of being a unified whole. There is an aspect of us that is looking for fusion. However, there is another aspect that is looking for individuality and freedom. As a person, we are the composite of many layers of our past development that encapsulate with each other. The baby part wants to find fusion again with mum, and the toddler in us wants to explore away from mum. And we possess many other aspects that contradict each other. To be a human being is complex and it gets worse as we age. This is why it is so important to be introspective to know oneself and become more attuned. This way, we can compensate this inner complexity with good communication to accommodate the needs of both our internal parts and the ones of our partner. Of course, it is easier said than done.

Love starts with getting infatuated with the partner’s qualities that we desire subconsciously, the aspects of us that we have disowned. This is a form of narcissistic love, where we are in awe of our own potential through the mirror of the beloved. I believe however that true love is based on embracing and even loving the other person’s shadows or quirks. This is what is going to make a relationship last.

The reality is that we do not want to work on a relationship. We want to be in the flow. Of course, when children, material and status considerations, fear of abandonment are in play, there are very big incentives to make the relationship work. So we start problem-solving the relationship like a problem at work. We read relationship books looking for the magical recipe to fix the relationship. Love becomes a project. We become roommates or business partners with our mate and the intimacy fades away. We calculate, monitor closely what we do or say to reach an outcome. However, the flow of love requires free expression and spontaneity. It is about creating a container large enough for the person to express themselves fully so that they may be seen in their totality. It is about living in the present without any parachute. It is about reminding ourselves that love is a gift and not a due and it may vanish or come back at any time. It is about letting go off control. This is where self-love is so important. If we do not possess enough self-love, the idea of losing the object of our love is unbearable. Jealousy sets in. Otherwise, we understand that our lovers just reflect the love that is within us.

It is a wonderful feeling to be in a relationship because we want to and not because we have to. This is only possible if we have enough autonomy. Two hearts that love each other in total freedom is magical and it can be so terrifying at the same time. And it is even better when we cannot even explain why we love someone. It is an act of grace. I have learned to enjoy missing a lover and it is a such good indicator of the love I feel for her.

love at first sight

A relationship needs space to grow and this amount of space is dependent on the people in the relationship. Creating space helps to counter the tendency we have to take people for granted, to remember the qualities instead getting stuck on the deficiencies. The time when we miss each other genuinely takes away the natural erosion of life and routine on the relationship.

I go back to the words of intimacy expert Peter Sandhill. According to him, it takes 3 main ingredients for a fulfilling intimate relationship. First, we need love or the powerful subconscious pull that brings two beings together. Every relationship goes through ups and downs, and without this powerful attraction, we simply will not have the perseverance and the commitment to face the challenges coming our way. Secondly, we need compatibility so that we may experience more beautiful memories, enjoyable shared moments and connection time instead of conflicts. This will keep the relationship fresh and limit the natural erosion of everyday life on the relationship. Third, we need the tools which are the combination of our inner work, effective communication and relationship knowledge. We need to stay students of life and commit to become the best version of ourselves because a relationship is nothing else that the closest mirror to the totality of who we are.

love exploration

What makes love so unique is that there are no rules. It is a continuous exploration. As we evolve and reflect, we have the ability to co-create a relationship that feels good for both partners or part ways. There is no magic formula but we have much power than we can imagine to heal and experience gratifying relationships. We may learn from the experience of others but, at the end of the day, it is really up to us. Authenticity, communication, creativity, commitment, openness are the constants. And let’s remember that love is more about an art than a business where flow, inspiration, courage will always mean more than willpower, problem-solving and planning.

The black widow

Please subscribe to Coach Vaillant newsletter for new exclusive content

Version de l’article en Français (video in French below)

The black widow is a spider that is well-known for sexual cannibalism. She would sometimes eat her male counterpart after being impregnated. While the idea of devouring your mate may seem terrifying, the idea of eating your own offspring may sound unthinkable, but it has been observed with a number of animal species. Female wolf spiders frequently practice filial cannibalism. Zoologists are assuming they get an energy benefit from this unnatural practice and they might be using it as a source of food when other sources are scarce. This same behavior is unfortunately much more common than we may think on a psychological level with human beings.


Many of us enter parenthood more for unconscious reasons than conscious ones. For example, our parents had children so we feel it is the right thing to do. At a subconscious level, we may want to heal our own childhood by having children of our own. We may be afraid of being alone or need to make our existence meaningful by having offspring that will survive us. In some culture, there is some expectation that children will take care of us during our old age. On a more positive note, we may aspire to have children to experience unconditional love. While it is painful to separate from a romantic partner, time heals everything and we move on with our life. The same cannot be said with children. Children are the flesh of our flesh, and we are never able to move on completely from the loss of children. Conflict with our children torments our soul. On a psychological level, our children reflect our light and shadow even more than romantic relationships. This is why parental relationships suffer a high level of projection. As such, our children are ultimately our most challenging teachers, and often choose to fulfill many of our unrealized dreams.

The ideal parent is able to see the uniqueness of his children, does not project his own unfilled desires and aspirations into them and encourage his children’s development according to their own abilities and desires. The ideal parent brings unconditional love, presence and support to the child so that he may eventually become autonomous and create a life that feels good on his own terms. Parental love should be about what is best for the child independently of what could be best for the parent. This is why we call unconditional love and the hidden purpose of parenthood is to bring us closer to this state of being.

Unfortunately, many of us have experienced trauma and we are far from being an ideal parent. As a result, we suffer a number of psychological ailments such as fear of loneliness or abandonment, depression, disconnection, low self-esteem, scarcity consciousness and many other insecurities. As long as we are not whole and we have not experienced the fire of self-love into our heart to become a sun of our own, the reality is that we are likely to vampirize our children. When children come to this world, they are pure and radiate unconditional love. They are still connected to Source so they easily fall prey to parents that are not whole and will pass on their own traumas to their children. I have a number of coaching clients that had neglectful or abusive parents. They may be scared to revisit the painful memories but they had no choice but to accept the shadow of their unfit primary caretakers. As such, they can move rapidly through emotional healing as they are not trying to protect the ghosts of their painful past. However, I commonly have clients with parents that exhibit narcissistic love. These are actually harder to work with, as it is so difficult for everyone to let go of the idea that they were not really loved when they were the center of attention of their parents. Wires are crossed in these children. The child (or the grown-up adult) is still convinced that he was loved whereas he was actually used and manipulated for the parent selfish motives. It may be difficult to observe and accept as the parents apparent actions only seem to indicate love & care.


This type of narcissistic parental love may be expressed in many ways. Parental narcissism is actually so prevalent that many people may become angry while reading my examples below as these may be the only times where they felt actually loved and cared for. Narcissism is just a mental state that limits us to see only our own reflection and not the child’s uniqueness when we relate to them. Unconditional love is rare and precious, but once we experience it, it is easier to let go of this form of conditional love.

Too much emphasis on school grades

So-called “good” parents are very identified with their offspring school grades. They make sure homework is done perfectly. They get offended if their child gets less than a perfect grade and do not hesitate to schedule a meeting with the teacher in such case. They punish the child emotionally when they get an unsatisfactory grade. Actually, this parental behavior is unhealthy for many reasons. First, it teaches the children that they are loved only upon achieving specific results, therefore they are not worthy as they are. This is conditional love. Additionally, this attitude does not nurture autonomy in children. They work to get good grades to please their parents and not get in trouble with them rather than for their own good. This is programming them to choose a career in the future to please mum and dad instead of choosing a path that is truly fulfilling. Over focusing on school results is a way for parents to avoid their true role as educators. The smarter parents understand the limits of the school system, and coach their children in other areas that is not covered by standard education. They develop their children emotional intelligence, character, compassion, expand their horizons, teach by example, promote their interest in sports and hobbies. While it is important to coach our children to have good results at school, it is far from being a necessary condition for living a successful and happy life. Many parents with low-esteem will use a child with good grades to compensate for their own insecurities and personal sense of failure. If they have one child with good grades and another one struggling at school, such parents will cause deep psychological damage to the child that is challenged academically. This child will feel even more unlovable, unworthy and is likely to resent his sibling. This is setting up the unhealthy dynamic of the Golden Child and the Scapegoat that is well known by therapists.

When extra curriculum activities are used as projective identification

While it is natural for a parent to initiate their children to activities they are familiar with for their mutual enjoyment, there is a healthy balance to reach. I knew a woman who dropped off musical school when she was 16 as her parents had prepared her to become a concert pianist. She refused to play at home for her family and friends as the memories of the pressure of having to play 6 hours a day had been traumatizing. However, when she had a son, she made a point that he would take piano. She would teach him piano from time to time but every session ended with her son’s tears. She was repeating her own trauma through him by giving him the same harsh treatment that she was once the victim. There are some professional athletes that had to endure a high level of projection from their coach parent. The 8 times grand slam tennis champion Andre Agassi went public about his father who put him through a brutal training as a young child. When young Agassi rebelled, his father just shouted at the top of his lungs “You’re a tennis player! You’re going to be number one in the world! You’re going to make lots of money. That’s the plan and that’s the end of it”. Mary Pierce is one of the best French female tennis players of all times. Jim Pierce, her father, once reportedly screamed “Mary, kill the bitch!” at a tennis tournament his daughter Mary Pierce played in. He verbally and physically abused his daughter. His outbursts at events were so bad that the World Tennis Association banned him from attending all tournaments. Many parents use their children to raise their social status vicariously. They use their children to look good to their family & friends. Sometimes, they have something to do with their children achievements but more often than we think, the children’s accomplishment are reached despite the parents’ unhealthy projections. These children feel excruciating pressure from their parents to perform and this is hindering their ability to truly enjoy their sport or activity. They tend to exhibit a lot of stress and anxiety. Failing in the activity would just reinforce the subconscious belief that they are not lovable.

Using children as weapons of war

Unfortunately, children are often caught in loyalty conflicts. In case of high divorce conflict, the narcissistic parent would turn his own children against the other parent. The children are brain-washed to take the alienating parent’s hatred towards the former spouse as their own. These parents are extremely toxic they are putting the child in a position to hate half of themselves. The psychological damage that these children suffer has been well-documented. Even outside of parental alienation, it is quite common for a parent to project their own resentment toward a friend or family member with their own children. One of my clients used to have a very close relationship with her stepdad. However, when the relationship ended the mother manipulated her daughter to behave very harshly towards the stepdad to get back at him. As a result, this young woman has had very unsatisfactory intimate relationships with men as she is very tormented subconsciously with the guilt of hurting someone she loved. The same process of alienation is not limited to the narcissistic parent’s former partner. Loving connections from uncles, aunts, grandparents, cousins and friends can be severed the same way.

My daughter as a Barbie doll

If the girl is good-looking, she may be used as an object of self-glorification and unhealthy pride for the parent, typically the mother. She is made to wear pretty little dresses and apparel to become a way to boost the self-esteem of the parent. The daughter is therefore compensating for the mother’s fear of getting old and losing her attractiveness. There is nothing wrong in the action of making our children look good when we can afford it. It is all about the intent behind the action. We need to examine if we have selfless or on the contrary self-centered motives. Because there are so many parents who think their children are so incredibly pretty, many photography agencies are exploiting this parents’ weakness by promising to submit the photo-shoot to modeling agencies. They charge an outrageous price for the photo-shoot but never submit anything. In such instance, the mother is grooming her daughter with the sole intent of getting attention and this is not coming from a nurturing instinct. In another example, a mother felt some jealousy towards her sister. She went over the top to make her daughter look gorgeous before visiting her aunt. The purpose was not a friendly and caring family visit. Her real agenda was to show that she was better than her sister because she had such a lovely, well-behaved and pretty daughter. Good behavior in this mother’s book is synonymous to anything that her daughter does to make her look good, and bad behavior is the opposite. The child’s best interest is never considered. She is just seen as an extension of the mother and any attempt to escape from her control is severely punished.

Children used as retirement and financial support

This is more prominent in cultures that do not offer a satisfactory retirement plan to their citizens. Parents have children so that they may support them financially and even physically during their old age. Parents see children as an investment, and if the child deviates from the plan that the parents have set-up, they are condemned as ungrateful, selfish and unworthy. This is the opposite of unconditional love. Children are geared towards careers that bring more money such as doctors or lawyers instead of following their passion. This way, they will not be a financial burden on the parent but on contrary could contribute to the parents’ materiel well-being in their old age. A friend of mine got a law degree just for his father. When he graduated, he told his father “This diploma is yours, now I am going to do what I like” What a waste of time! A caring parent is preoccupied first and foremost with his child’s happiness, not with the benefits he will draw from his children’s material success. While transactional relationship are required in the field of business, the world of family and friendship is there first to teach us about unconditionality. Real love is about giving without any expectation in return. I have a friend who used to help a lot financially his wife’s parents when they were married. When they decided to separate, she kept the expectation that her ex-husband should keep paying for her parents’ lifestyle. She has been suing her ex husband for the last 5 years for exorbitant child care fees charged by her parents for spending time for their own grandchildren! The irony is that she is also preventing her children to spend any time with their father.

Self-sacrificing behaviors

These self-centered parents are distorting reality to manipulate their children to feel a sense of indebtedness so as to better control them. One of my friends had a mother who had an affair with a young man during their marriage. She told her daughters that he was the love of her life but she decided not to leave their father as a sacrifice to them. In reality, she never had any intention to divorce as she enjoyed the financial stability of her emotionally unavailable husband. The daughters felt terrible as they felt responsible for their mother’s “sacrifice”. Many of these children, once they become adult, become very concerned when they receive anything in a relationship. They are afraid this may be used against them in the future. Some mothers may say they sacrifice having a fulfilling career because they had to raise their children while in fact they were afraid to face the workplace. People should never give out of sacrifice. Either they give from their heart or they should not give at all. I have heard from many grown-up children that they would have preferred not getting anything than feeling guilty because of their parent self-sacrificing behavior. They understand this is just plain manipulation. These parents have the habit of convincing their children that their own selfish behaviors were in fact self-sacrificing. They are just teaching their children that it is wrong to have needs of your own, and the only way to fulfill desires is through manipulation.

The helicopter parent

An helicopter parent pays extreme close attention to a child’s or children’s experiences and problems. This a coping mechanism not to experience their own inner void, self-worth issues and dissatisfaction about their own lives. They oscillate between being over-loving, over-protective or over critical to their children. With their actions, they are depriving their children of their own experiences and are severely limiting the child ability for autonomy. Children raised with helicopter parenting show poor emotional regulation as they are never given the space to handle, process and reflect on their own emotions. Whether they are feeling sad, angry, disappointed or distressed, the parent immediately takes over in solving the situation for them. Hence, they are disabled to handle real-life situations without their parent. The parent is enabling the child’s over-dependency of the parent. If the child is on school trip, the child will insist for example to talk with her mother at night before she is able to fall asleep. This child will continue to call her parent every day even far into adulthood. The child never cuts the umbilical cord with the parent which severely impacts his/her ability to experience life. The parent stays omnipresent and this leaves no space for other intimate relationships in the grown-up child.

The “gift” as a control mechanism

Such parents may give very generous gifts to their children however they may take the desired object just as quickly if the child deviates from their line of conduct. One of my friends had a boyfriend she was madly in love with. He was receiving financial support from his parents, and the parents found that she did not have the appropriate social status for their son. They threatened to cut financial support if he were to stay with her. He broke off with her shortly after. Another one of my friends got a dog when she was a teenager. She adored the dog as she received unconditional love from the animal in sharp contrast with her parents. The mother did not like the fact that her daughter could pour so much love outside of her. She got her husband to tell their daughter that they could only keep one dog because of the size of their house, but because her mother was very attached to her own dog, they would then give away the daughter’s dog. The daughter became so enraged with this decision that she actually became cruel with her mother’s dog. As a result, the dog started to exhibit some dangerous behaviors and they had to part with that dog too. The daughter developed some toxic guilt traumatizing this animal, and had to eventually work through it in therapy. This type of parent shows his or her omnipotence by making clear to the child that he has the ability to give but also to take away. In the most extreme form of this pattern, it is common for satanic cults to make little children attached to kitties before sacrificing the young cat in horrific ways in front of the child months later. This is imprinting the child with a deep sense of powerlessness so that they may be more easily controllable to follow the cult’s agenda. When the child becomes aware that anything they care for may be taken away at any time, they refuse to connect intimately with anyone or anything outside the toxic organization.

Preventing competing child’s intimate relationships


There are some parents that cannot stand if their children may start showing more affection towards someone else than themselves. They have a strategy of “divide and conquer” to stay #1 in their children’s heart or mind. Such parent would criticize the child’s boyfriend or spouse behind their back to ensure the child shows loyalty first to the parent and not to the romantic partner. One of my clients’ mother had left “inadvertently” an open bottle of pain medicine at her house and my client’s dog ate dozens of pills. The dog barely died as a result. Toxic mothers may even get jealous of their daughter’s attachment towards their newborn. In another situation, one mother took away her pregnant daughter’s chair as the latter was going to sit down. As she didn’t notice that the chair has been removed, she fell abruptly and almost got a miscarriage. These parents are very proficient at slandering anyone that may become too close to their child. These could be children, romantic partners, other grandparents, friends, animals or even competing activities that could prevent the narcissistic parent to feel his/her dominance. These parents only know possessiveness because they know no real love in their heart. There is a common pattern in families when the mother becomes jealous of the daughter as she becomes an attractive teenager. This mother would then use her husband to punish the daughter on futile ground. This achieves multiple goals at once. First, it reassures the insecure mother about the loyalty of her husband. Secondly, it antagonizes the daughter towards the father to ensure that the mother-daughter bond stays primary. Another mother would make sure to exhibit all his son’s pictures with his past girlfriends every time a new girlfriend of his would visit. This would make the new girlfriend feel insignificant and create strife in the relationship. The hidden purpose is to ensure that she stays the dominant female figure in her son’s life.

Before we can experience real love, we need to recognize what is not love. Narcissistic love can exhibit many of the attributes of real love: deep care and concern, commitment, gifts, affection and positive compliments. To differentiate conditional and unconditional love, we need to consider if the parent is able to see the child as separate to him, that he possesses his own desires, aspirations and dreams that may be different from the parent. While we come to this world in a state of fusion with our mother, the process of maturation is about recognizing our own individuality separate from our parents as we grow-up. It is also natural to be egocentric and think we are the center of the world as a small child. Problems start arising when we do not develop past this stage because of childhood traumas. Real love stems in complete freedom when we choose to spend time and affection with people we care for. Not because we have to, but because we want to.

French translation below – Article en Français ci-dessous

La Veuve Noire

La veuve noire est une araignée qui est bien connue pour son cannibalisme sexuel. Elle mange parfois son homologue masculin après avoir été fécondée. Si l’idée de dévorer son compagnon peut sembler terrifiante, l’idée de manger sa propre progéniture devient alors impensable. Toutefois, cela a été observé chez un certain nombre d’espèces animales. Les araignées loup pratiquent fréquemment le cannibalisme filial. Les zoologistes supposent qu’elles obtiennent un bienfait énergétique de ce repas contre nature et elles le font d’autant plus que d’autres sources de nourriture deviennent rares. Ce comportement est malheureusement beaucoup plus fréquent que l’on ne pourrait le penser à un niveau psychologique chez les êtres humains.

La plupart du temps, nous devenons parents plus pour des raisons inconscientes que conscientes. Nous pouvons le faire par simple mimétisme de nos propres parents. À un niveau inconscient, nous pouvons vouloir guérir les traumatismes de notre propre enfance en ayant nous-mêmes des enfants, voire même pour combler notre propre vide affectif. Nous pouvons avoir peur d’être seul ou nous voulons donner un sens à notre existence, c’est pourquoi nous voulons une descendance qui nous survivra. Dans certaines cultures, nous comptons sur nos enfants pour prendre soin de nous pendant nos vieux jours et ce également sur un plan financier. Dans l’ideal, nous pouvons souhaiter avoir des enfants afin de leur donner un amour inconditionnel et qu’ils puissent se développer afin d’améliorer le monde dans lequel nous vivons. Bien qu’il soit très douloureux de se séparer d’un partenaire romantique, le temps finit par apaiser un coeur blessé. Cependant, nous ne pouvons pas en dire de même en ce qui concerne nos enfants. Nos enfants sont la chair de notre chair, et nous ne sommes jamais en mesure de guérir complètement de la perte de nos enfants. La blessure persiste et tout conflit avec nos enfants nous perturbe profondément. Sur le plan psychologique, nos enfants amplifient nos aspects de lumière mais aussi notre part d’ombre, encore plus que ne le font nos relations amoureuses. Voilà pourquoi les relations parentales souffrent d’un fort niveau de projection. À ce titre, nos enfants sont en fin de compte nos enseignants de vie les plus difficiles. Ils choisissent aussi souvent de réaliser les rêves que nous n’avons pu réaliser.

Cependant le parent idéal est capable de voir le caractère unique de ses enfants, et ne projète pas ses propres désirs et vocations manquées sur eux. Ils encouragent le développement de leurs enfants en fonction de leurs talents et de leurs propres désirs. Le parent idéal apporte l’amour inconditionnel, la présence et le soutien à l’enfant afin qu’il puisse devenir autonome. Il les aide à se créer une vie heureuse. L’amour parentale devrait se focaliser sur ce qui est le mieux pour l’enfant indépendamment de ce qui peut être le mieux pour le parent. C’est ce que nous appelons l’amour inconditionnel et c’est ce vers quoi nous devons tendre en tant que parents.

Malheureusement, nous sommes loin d’être des parents idéaux du fait des traumatismes que nous avons vécu lors de notre enfance. Par conséquent, nous souffrons d’un certain nombre de maux psychologiques comme la peur de la solitude ou de l’abandon, la dépression, l’indisponibilité émotionnelle, une faible estime de nous-même, la peur du lendemain et bien d’autres angoisses. Tant que nous n’avons pas intégré et purgé tous ces aspects en nous et que nous ne sommes pas capables de nous donner de l’amour, nous sommes très susceptibles de vampiriser nos propres enfants. Lorsque les enfants viennent au monde, ils sont purs et rayonnent d’un amour inconditionnel. Du fait de leur innocence et pureté, ils deviennent les victimes de parents qui leur transmettent leurs propres traumatismes. Un certain nombre de mes patients qui ont eu des parents négligents ou abusifs, ont souvent peur de revisiter les souvenirs douloureux du passé alors que la guérison émotionnelle peut aller d’autant plus vite lorsqu’ils ne cherchent pas à protéger les illusions d’un passé cruel. Beaucoup de mes patients n’ont connu qu’un amour parental narcissique. Il est très difficile pour l’enfant une fois adulte d’accepter qu’il n’était pas vraiment aimé alors qu’il se croyait le centre de l’attention de ses parents. C’est une situation très confuse. L’enfant maintenant adulte veut se convaincre qu’il était aimé alors qu’il était en fait utilisé et manipulé a des fins égocentriques par ses parents. Cela est d’autant plus difficile à accepter que les apparences sont trompeuses, et que les gens extérieurs renforcent cette même image du parent parfait.

Ce type d’amour venant d’un parent narcissique peut être exprimé de plusieurs façons. Le narcissisme parental est en fait si répandue que beaucoup de gens pourraient sentir la colère monter en eux en lisant les exemples ci-dessous car ceux-ci peuvent être les seuls moments où ils se sont sentis vraiment chéris et aimés. Le narcissisme est juste un état de conscience qui nous empêche de voir à l’extérieur de notre bulle et donc de voir le caractere unique de l’enfant en face de nous. L’amour inconditionnel est rare et précieux, mais une fois que nous en faisons l’expérience, il est alors plus facile de cesser de s’accrocher à l’amour conditionnel.

Trop d’emphase sur les résultats scolaires

Ces soi-disant parents parfaits accordent une importance démesurée aux résultats scolaires de leur progéniture. Il faut que les devoirs soient faits parfaitement quite à ce qu’ils les fassent pour eux. Ils s’offensent si leur enfant n’obtient qu’une note moyenne et ils n’hésitent pas à exiger une rencontre avec l’enseignant dans ce cas. Ils punissent aussi l’enfant quand il obtient une note médiocre. Ce genre de comportement parental est malsain pour de nombreuses raisons. Tout d’abord, il montre aux enfants qu’ils ne sont dignes d’amour que par leur performance, ce qui veut dire qu’ils ne peuvent être aimés en tant que tel sans une action qui leur donne une valeur. C’est l’amour conditionnel. De plus, cette attitude ne développe pas l’autonomie chez les enfants. Ils travaillent pour obtenir de bonnes notes afin de plaire à leurs parents et ne pas avoir des ennuis avec eux plutôt que de réussir académiquement pour leur propre futur. Ils vont souvent choisir une carrière qui vont plaire à maman et papa plutôt que d’opter pour une vocation qui leur convient. La pression sur les résultats scolaires est aussi un moyen détourné pour les parents d’éviter leur véritable rôle d’éducateurs. Les parents plus expérimentés comprennent les limites du système scolaire, et aident leurs enfants à s’épanouir dans d’autres domaines qui développent leur intelligence émotionnelle, leur caractère, la compassion et l’empathie, l’élargissement de leurs horizons, et leur intérêt pour les sports et les loisirs. Alors qu’il est important de suivre nos enfants dans leur scolarité, les bons résultats sont loin de leur garantir une vie réussie et heureuse. Beaucoup de parents avec une faible estime d’eux-mêmes utiliseront un enfant qui a de bonnes notes pour compenser leurs propres insécurités et leur sentiment personnel d’échec. S’ils ont un enfant avec de bonnes notes et un autre en difficulté à l’école, ces parents causent des dommages psychologiques profonds en reproduisant la dynamique malsaine et bien connue de “l’enfant parfait” et de “l’enfant bouc-émissaire”. Cela montre non seulement que l’enfant est aimé de façon conditionnelle, mais cela engendre aussi une rivalité destructrice entre frères et soeurs ce qui permet au parent narcissique de renforcer sa toute puissance.

Lorsque les activités extra-curriculaires sont utilisées comme identification projective

Bien qu’il soit naturel pour un parent d’initier ses enfants à des activités qu’ils aiment personnellement, il y a un équilibre à atteindre. Une de mes connaissances avait abandonné le conservatoire quand elle avait 16 ans alors que ses parents l’avaient préparé à devenir une grande pianiste. Elle refusait de jouer à la maison pour sa famille et les amis car elle avait des souvenirs traumatisants à devoir jouer 6 heures par jour et regrettait de n’avoir pas eu d’enfance. Cependant, quand elle eut un fils, elle mit un point d’honneur à ce qu’il apprenne le piano. Elle commença à lui enseigner le piano, mais chaque leçon finissait par les larmes de son fils. Elle ne put s’empêcher de répéter le même traitement dont elle avait été plus jeune la victime. De nombreux athlètes professionnels doivent subir la pression et les projections de leur parent entraîneur. Dans le monde du tennis professionnel, le grand champion André Agassi a rendu public dans son livre autobiographique “Open” les entraînements terribles qu’il devait subir. Lorsque le jeune Agassi se révoltait, son père se contentait d’hurler à pleins poumons « Tu es un joueur de tennis! Tu vas être le numéro un mondial! Et tu vas aussi gagner beaucoup d’argent. Il n’y a aucune discussion possible! ». Mary Pierce est l’une des meilleures joueuses du tennis féminin français de tous les temps. Jim Pierce, son père, avait une fois crié pendant un match en parlant de son adversaire lors d’un tournoi professionnel « Mary, allez, tue-la cette salope! » Il abusait aussi verbalement et physiquement sa fille. Ses explosions de colère lors de matchs professionnels étaient si menaçantes que l’association mondiale de tennis lui a interdit d’assister à tous les tournois. De nombreux parents exploitent leurs enfants afin d’élever leur propre niveau social. Ils utilisent leurs enfants pour se faire valoir auprès de leur famille et de leurs amis. Alors que ces parents s’attribuent le succès de leurs enfants, bien plus souvent que nous le pensons, leurs accomplissements sont souvent atteints en dépit des projections malsaines des parents. Ces enfants ressentent trop de pression venant de leurs parents et cela les empêche de profiter pleinement de leur sport ou de leur activité. Au contraire, ils montrent souvent beaucoup de stress et d’anxiété. Ce genre de comportement parental renforce simplement la croyance subconsciente qu’ils ne sont pas dignes d’amour.

L’utilisation des enfants comme des armes de guerre

Malheureusement, les enfants se retrouvent souvent pris dans des conflits de loyauté. En cas de divorce très conflictuel, le parent narcissique n’hésite pas à retourner ses enfants contre l’autre parent. Les enfants sont manipulés pour prendre en eux la haine du parent aliénant envers l’ex-conjoint comme si c’était leur propre haine. Ces parents sont extrêmement toxiques car ils mettent l’enfant dans une position où il doit haïr la moitié de lui-même. Les troubles psychologiques que ces enfants vont alors développer ont été bien mis en avant par les experts. Il est aussi fréquent que les enfants s’approprient les ressentiments des parents envers un ami ou membre de la famille. Une de mes patientes avait une relation très proche avec son beau-père. Cependant, lorsque la relation a pris fin, la mère a manipulé sa fille afin qu’elle se comporte très durement envers le beau-père pour le punir d’avoir rompu avec sa mère. Par conséquent, cette jeune femme a eu de nombreuses difficultés en couple avec les hommes car elle est restée très tourmentée inconsciemment par la culpabilité envers son beau-père. Ce processus d’aliénation ne se limite pas à l’ancien partenaire amoureux du parent narcissique mais inclut souvent toutes les relations avec les oncles, tantes, grands-parents, cousins, cousines et amis.

Ma fille comme ma poupée Barbie

Si la jeune fille est belle, elle peut être utilisée comme un objet d’auto-glorification pour nourrir une fierté malsaine chez le parent, généralement la mère. On lui fait porter de jolies robes et vêtements afin de rehausser l’estime de soi des parents. La fille est simplement là afin d’atténuer la peur de sa mère à vieillir et de se sentir moins attirante. Il n’y a rien de mal à ce que nous voulons que nos enfants aient le meilleur quand nous pouvons nous le permettre financièrement cependant il faut regarder quelle est la véritable intention derrière nos actions. Nous devons nous poser la question si nous agissons de manière désintéressée ou égocentrique. Beaucoup de parents ont la conviction que leurs enfants sont d’une beauté extraordinaire. Beaucoup de photographes exploitent cette faiblesse en leur promettant de soumettre les photos de leurs enfants à des agences de mannequins. Ils facturent un prix exorbitant pour la séance photo sans jamais rien soumettre à l’agence. Dans d’autres cas, la mère habille sa fille dans le seul but d’attirer l’attention et de se faire valoir. Par exemple, une mère était jalousie de sa sœur. Elle s’assura que sa fille soit absolument superbe avant que cette derniere aille rendre visite à sa tante. Il ne s’agissait pas là d’une simple visite familiale amicale et chaleureuse pour la mère. Sa véritable intention était de montrer qu’elle était mieux que sa sœur parce qu’elle avait une fille si sage et si belle. Pour ce genre de mère, les comportements de son enfant ne seront jugés bons que s’ils vont dans son sens à elle et si elle peut en retirer quelque chose personnellement. L’intérêt de l’enfant n’est jamais pris en compte.

Les enfants utilisés comme un soutien financier

Ceci est plus commun dans les cultures qui n’offrent pas de régime de retraite satisfaisant à leurs citoyens. Les parents ont des enfants afin que ceux-ci puissent les soutenir financièrement et même physiquement pendant leur vieillesse. Les parents voient leur enfant comme un investissement pour le futur, et si l’enfant se détourne du plan que les parents ont mis en place, ils sont sévèrement jugés. C’est l’opposé de l’amour inconditionnel. Ces enfants sont orientés vers des carrières qui rapportent plus d’argent comme médecin ou avocat au lieu de suivre leur vocation. De cette façon, ils ne seront pas un fardeau financier pour les parents mais au contraire pourront contribuer au bien-être matériel de leurs parents âgés. Un de mes amis a obtenu une licence en droit juste pour son père. Quand il a obtenu son diplôme, il a dit à son père « Ce diplôme est pour toi, maintenant, je vais faire ce que je veux » et il commença de nouvelles études dans une branche complètement différente. Quelle perte de temps! Un parent attentif se préoccupe avant tout du bonheur de son enfant, et non des avantages qu’il tirera de leur réussite matérielle. Bien que les relations transactionnelles sont nécessaires dans le domaine des affaires, la famille et l’amitié devraient être basées sur un amour inconditionnel. L’amour véritable est de donner sans attendre en retour. J’ai un ami qui aidait beaucoup financièrement les parents de sa femme quand ils se sont mariés. Ensuite, quand ils ont décidé de se séparer, elle a consideré que son ex-mari devait continuer à payer pour que ses parents maintiennent le même mode de vie! Elle poursuit en justice son ex-mari depuis 5 ans pour payer les frais exorbitants de garde d’enfants réclamés par ses parents pour passer du temps avec leurs propres petits-enfants! L’ironie du sort est qu’elle empêche aussi ses enfants de passer du temps avec leur père.

Comportements pseudo sacrificiels

Ces parents égocentriques déforment la réalité dans le but de manipuler leurs enfants afin qu’ils ressentent un sentiment d’endettement et de culpabilité pour mieux les contrôler. Une de mes amies avait une mère qui avait eu une liaison avec un jeune homme au cours de son mariage. Elle a dit à ses filles qu’il était l’amour de sa vie, mais qu’elle avait décidé de ne pas laisser leur père car elle devait se sacrifier pour sa famille. En réalité, elle n’avait jamais eu l’intention de divorcer comme elle appréciait la stabilité financière de son mari même s’il était froid. Ces pauvres filles se sentaient donc responsables du malheur de leur mère. Un grand nombre de ces enfants, une fois adultes, deviennent très soucieux dès que quelqu’un leur donne quelque chose car ils ne veulent rien devoir à personne à cause du traumatisme lié à leur mère. D’autres mères disent qu’elles ont sacrifié une belle carrière professionnelle afin d’élever leurs enfants alors qu’en fait, elles avaient peur du monde du travail. Les gens ne devraient jamais donner par sacrifice. Il est préférable de ne rien donner si l’on ne peut pas donner de bon coeur. J’ai entendu de nombreux adultes dire qu’ils auraient préféré ne rien recevoir de leurs parents plutôt que d’être constamment culpabilisés. Ils comprennent finalement que tout était manipulation. Ces parents sont passés maîtres à faire passer leurs comportements égoïstes pour de l’abnégation. Ils enseignent à leurs enfants qu’il est mal d’avoir ses propres besoins, et que la seule façon de satisfaire ses désirs est par la manipulation.

Le parent “hélicoptère”

Un parent “hélicoptère” est trop identifié à l’enfant ou s’immisce de manière exagérée dans toutes les expériences et tous les problèmes de l’enfant. Il s’agit là d’un mécanisme d’adaptation afin que le parent ne fasse pas l’expérience de son vide intérieur, de son manque d’amour de soi et de son insatisfaction quant à sa propre existence. Ils oscillent entre des états remplis d’affection, sur-protecteurs ou très critiques vis-à-vis de leurs enfants. Avec leur ingérence permanente, ils privent leurs enfants de leurs propres expériences et limitent la capacité de ces derniers à devenir autonomes. Les enfants élevés par de tels parents montrent de la difficulté à gérer leurs émotions car ils n’ont jamais reçu l’espace nécessaire pour faire face par eux-mêmes aux problèmes de la vie. Qu’ils se sentent tristes, en colère, déçus ou en détresse, le parent prend immédiatement le contrôle dans la résolution de leur problème, et pas toujours à bon escient. Ces enfants se sentent donc perdus une fois qu’ils quittent le domicile familial. Le parent a créé une dépendance excessive de l’enfant. Si l’enfant est en voyage scolaire, l’enfant insistera par exemple pour parler avec sa mère la nuit afin de pouvoir s’endormir. Cet enfant continuera à appeler ses parents tous les jours quand il sera adulte. Cet enfant ne coupe jamais le cordon ombilical avec le parent, ce qui a de lourdes conséquences quant à sa capacité à vivre sa propre vie. Ces parents sont omniprésents, et n’hésitent pas à débarquer à l’improviste dans le domicile de l’enfant une fois adulte pour faire par exemple de nouveaux aménagements comme s’il s’agissait de leur propre domicile ce qui ne laisse par conséquent aucune place pour d’autres relations intimes.

Le « cadeau » en tant que mécanisme de contrôle

Ces parents peuvent donner des cadeaux très généreux à leurs enfants mais ils peuvent reprendre l’objet désiré tout aussi rapidement quand l’enfant s’écarte de la ligne de conduite qui a été tracée pour eux. Une de mes amies avait un petit ami dont elle était très amoureuse. Il recevait un soutien financier important de ses parents qui n’aimaient pas le niveau social de sa petite amie. Ils l’ont donc menacé de retirer tout soutien financier s’il s’entêtait à rester avec elle. Il a rompu avec elle peu de temps après. Une autre de mes amies avait un chien quand elle était enfant. Elle adorait ce chien car elle recevait un amour inconditionnel de l’animal, ce qui contrastait fortement avec celui de ses parents. La mère qui n’appréciait pas que sa fille porte plus d’attention à son chien qu’à elle-même, a mandaté son mari pour dire à leur fille qu’ils ne pouvaient garder qu’un seul chien à cause de la taille de leur maison. Comme sa mère était très attachée à son propre chien, ils ont alors donné celui de leur fille qui en a été très malheureuse. La fille était alors si en colère qu’elle est devenue réellement cruelle avec le chien de sa mère quand ils avaient le dos tourné car malheureusement les comportements pervers se transmettent généralement à la génération suivante. Par conséquent, le chien a commencé à montrer certains comportements dangereux et ils ont dû également s’en débarrasser. La fille a alors développé une forte culpabilité d’avoir traumatisé cet animal et d’avoir fait du mal à sa mère. Une fois adulte, elle s’acheta à deux reprises des chiens qu’elle finit par donner à sa mère. Le deuxième chien fut acheté pour son fils mais elle se plaignit de ses aboiements et le donna également a sa mere qui en fut ravie. Ce n’est qu’en faisant une thérapie qu’elle compris ce qu’elle avait rejoué inconsciemment. Ce type de parent montre son omnipotence en indiquant clairement à l’enfant qu’il a la capacité de donner, mais aussi de reprendre. Dans la forme la plus extrême de ce schéma, il est fréquent pour les sectes sataniques de faire en sorte que des enfants s’attachent à un petit chat avant de le sacrifier de façon horrible devant l’enfant des mois plus tard. Ceci fait naitre chez l’enfant un profond sentiment d’impuissance afin qu’il devienne plus facilement contrôlable par la secte déviante. Lorsque l’enfant se rend compte que tout ce qu’il aime peut être enlevé à tout moment, il évite de se lier profondément avec quelqu’un ou quelque chose. Son isolement est alors utilisé par l’organisation toxique à des fins utilitaires.

Nuire aux relations intimes de l’enfant qui pourraient menacer la suprématie du parent

Il y a certains parents qui ne peuvent pas supporter que leurs enfants puissent montrer plus d’affection envers quelqu’un d’autre qu’envers eux-mêmes. Ils adoptent alors la stratégie « diviser pour mieux régner » afin de rester maître dans le cœur ou l’esprit de leurs enfants. Un tel parent critique donc le petit ami ou conjoint de l’enfant pour que l’enfant continue à montrer sa loyauté envers ses parents plutôt qu’au partenaire romantique. La mère d’une de mes patientes avaient laissé « par inadvertance » une boîte grande ouverte de comprimés pour la douleur. Le chien de ma patiente a mangé des dizaines de pilules et il en est mort. Ces mères toxiques peuvent même devenir jalouses de l’attachement de leur fille envers leurs propres enfants. Dans une autre situation, une mère a enlevé la chaise de sa fille enceinte où celle-ci s’apprêtait à s’asseoir. Comme elle n’avait pas remarqué que le siège avait été enlevé, elle est tombée brutalement et elle a failli faire une fausse couche. Ce genre de parents sont très habiles à diffamer toute personne qui deviendrait trop proche de leur enfant, que ce soit des partenaires romantiques, d’autres grands-parents, des amis, des animaux ou même des activités concurrentes qui pourraient menacer la suprémacie du parent narcissique. Ces parents ne connaissent que l’amour possession et l’objetisation. Il est aussi commun dans ce genre de famille que la mère devienne jalouse de la fille lorsqu’elle devient une belle adolescente qui attire le sexe opposé. Cette mère utilise alors son mari pour punir sa fille pour des raisons futiles. Cela lui permet d’atteindre plusieurs objectifs à la fois. Tout d’abord, cela rassure la mère quant à la loyauté de son mari. En second lieu, elle créé ainsi un conflit entre la fille et le père afin de rester toute puissante. Une autre mère ne manquait pas d’exposer les photos de son fils avec une ancienne petite amie chaque fois que son fils venait avec nouvelle compagne. La nouvelle petite amie se sentait alors insignifiante, ce qui ne manquait pas de créer un conflit dans la relation. Le but caché de cette mère est de veiller à ce qu’elle reste la figure féminine dominante dans la vie de son fils qu’elle ne veut pas partager.

Avant de pouvoir expérimenter le vrai amour, nous devons apprendre à identifier ce qui n’est pas vraiment de l’amour même si cela ressemble à de l’amour. L’amour narcissique peut présenter un grand nombre des attributs de l’amour véritable: la préoccupation, l’inquiétude, l’engagement, les cadeaux, l’affection et les compliments. Pour différencier l’amour conditionnel de l’amour inconditionnel, nous devons nous demander si le parent est en mesure de voir son enfant comme un être séparé de lui-même et de voir qu’il possède ses propres désirs, ses aspirations et ses propres rêves qui peuvent être différents de ceux du parent. Alors que nous venons dans ce monde dans un état de fusion avec notre mère, le processus de maturation de l’enfant veut qu’il développe sa propre individualité au fur à mesure qu’il grandit. Il est bien naturel d’être égocentrique et de penser que nous sommes le centre du monde quand nous sommes petits. Les problèmes commencent lorsque nous ne dépassons pas ce stade infantile en raison de traumatismes affectifs. L’amour véritable s’exprime lorsque nous choisissons en toute liberté de passer du temps, d’aider, de faire plaisir et de montrer de l’affection sans rien attendre en retour. Non pas parce que nous le devons, mais parce que nous le voulons.

Moving from a dysfunctional codependent relationship to a conscious one – Part II

Light at the end of the tunnel, finally a conscious relationship

Please subscribe to my mailing list to be notified of new content

Read part I

Even after many years of struggles in codependent and abusive relationships, it is possible to mature into a conscious relationship. Once the lessons have been learned, we finally see light at the end of the tunnel. Intimate relationships have been a source of torment, despair, frustration and powerlessness. They now become the most beautiful part of our life. Our life deepens and we get to experience the purity of the love within our heart through the most magnificent mirror of romantic connection. What does this relationship feel like?

1. Personal Work

Because of the law of attraction, the partner we love is the mirror of who we are, mostly the unexpressed aspects. Therefore, the better person we become, the better partner we will attract. A beautiful and enjoyable romantic partnership can only be the mirror of genuine self-love. For this reason, inner work is and will continue to be the biggest factor in attracting, loving and keeping this special person.

Inner work, meditation

In a conscious relationship, we remember that our partner is a mirror. When they trigger us, we remember they are helping us to become aware of unsavory aspects we have repressed. We enjoy the good times, and we go into introspection during the challenging times to learn and become a better version of ourselves. If we think the behavior of our loved one has nothing to do with us, then we will not have strong reactions. We can either be supportive or feel indifferent, and lose interest. But if we are triggered, then we can be assured that it is about us. With experience, we learn to discriminate more and more accurately what is our stuff, and what is their stuff when a conflict arises. And we learn to discuss it in a vulnerable way to increase self-awareness and intimacy.

We learn to be alone while not feeling lonely. We do not need someone to complete ourselves. We do not need to marry someone to relive our childhood traumas. We are no longer afraid to be abandoned or betrayed. We understand that love is within us and not outside. So even if a breakup occurs, we know for certain that after we have grieved, the love within us will manifest an even better partner than before. This works as automatically as a sick body will eventually get healthy because health is our natural state of balance as we follow our inner guidance and get enough rest. We are able to make the best decisions for the relationship and ourselves because we are not driven anymore by the fear of ending up alone.

The people in a relationship are more important than the relationship itself. While it is wonderful to enjoy longevity in a relationship, we understand that there is no guarantee. As human beings, we keep changing and growing and sometimes people grow in different directions. It does not make anyone wrong, though the process of uncoupling can be so painful.  We can only share happiness with our beloved if we are happy ourselves. To keep sacrificing oneself is not sustainable. We need to put our self first with the sincere hope that our partner will want to stick around, and we understand that they need to put them self first too. We understand the fragility of romantic love, as it requires so many conditions to truly blossom. For this reason, we never take it for granted and revel in every moment of deep intimacy. Sometimes, we love our partner so much that we understand that it is best for us to step away if we see that we are limiting their growth.

As we accept the free will of our partner, we are able to experience a new form of love that is not possessive. We do not feel threatened by the growth of our partner, thinking they may leave if they outgrow us. On the opposite side, we want them to reach their full potential. We understand that the love can only get better as each partner commits to becoming the best they can be. We want to experience two hearts that choose to love each other in complete freedom, a love that is genuinely unconditional.  We accept that our partner may say no to us at times. It could be no to joining on an activity, no to sex, no to help us out, no to an external commitment and we trust them that they have taken our best interest in consideration. We work on our own abandonment or self-esteem issues or insecurities when this happens without attempting to manipulate them.

We commit to know ourselves and to be authentic. We commit to own both our light and shadow. Unless we know who we are, we appear unpredictable and unsafe to our partner. As we acquire self-knowledge, we understand our core needs and we are able to communicate effectively about them. We are honest, we act with integrity and we have healthy boundaries. When we have a conflicting need, we find a creative way for both partners to get their needs met.

Healthy boundaries

The more we own our shadow, the more we can create a container for our partner’s shadow so that we can both bring more of ourselves into the relationship for deeper intimacy. The more we own our shadow, the less likely it is for any shame to disrupt the relationship. The more we own our shadow, the better we can support our partner’s emotional healing without judgment.

2. Building a life together

While the commitment to self comes first as it is the healthy foundation for anything we bring into our life, a relationship takes nurturing and commitment. A romantic partnership is like a beautiful flower that needs its daily intake of nutrients, good soil, sun, and water. An intimate connection is the co-creation of two individuals. It is a third entity in addition of the two individuals, not an entity that is supposed to overthrow the same individuals that brought it to life in the first place.

Building our life together

Take it Slow. It takes time to know a person. People have a tendency to move too fast together after having sex. Sexual chemistry may be irresistible at first but it will eventually wane off as incompatibilities surface. Sexual attraction is an indicator of the potential of a relationship for personal growth, while compatibility is the best indicator for longevity. Genuine trust is built slowly through repetition. Taking any step back in a committed relationship is very damaging so it is better to advance slowly but surely. Only commit when you are ready to do it, but then be consistent.

Become an expert on other person. We tend to forget it but the main reason to be in a relationship is to love and to be loved, to experience joy and happiness. Therefore, the better we know our partner, the easier it is for us to make them feel loved. It is critical to know their love language, how they feel appreciated, what opens their heart, how they feel cared for. The more you bring joy into their lives, the more your partner will feel inspired to reciprocate if s/he is not narcissistic. Be curious and keep asking questions to know your partner better every day. We should give at least five times more compliments than constructive feedback on how our partner’s behavior is affecting us negatively.

In its lower form, sex can be used for control and a way to release negativity. However, when used consciously, the benefits are immense. The regular mixing of Yin & Yang sexual energy of two lovers is excellent to their health. Sex can become a sacred ritual when the energy from the genitals gets refined in each subsequent chakra to eventually open the crown chakra. It allows the lovers to experience ego death in a divine embrace. It opens the door to some of the highest pleasures we are able to experience on this earth. It promotes playfulness and intimacy. It brings heaven on earth.

sexual union, tantra

Many of us make the mistake of loving romantic partners for their potential and not for what they are today. While people can change, this is a long process so this type of expectation puts unnecessary stress onto the relationship. To truly love someone is to love his or her shortcomings. This makes it a safe place for our partner to grow without shame. We are able to see and love the whole person, without idealizing or demonizing him or her.

A conscious intimate relationship is the experience of togetherness without losing oneself in the process. It is the merging of freedom with responsibility and commitment.

We give without expecting anything in return. Unless absolutely necessary, we only do things for our partner when it comes from our heart to keep the relationship pure and unconditional. And by doing so, we raise our vibration and we move our center of gravity from the ego to the heart, to experience life at a much higher level.

We focus on creating joy and happiness for our partner. More and more, their bliss becomes our own, and their smile reflects the delight of our heart. We have no need to claim our value because it is already there as we wonder at the love in their eyes.

We strive to be sensitive towards our partner and we extend the same concern to our close ones. We ensure to be on the same page, and if we are not, we at least become aware that we are not. We are patient and understanding in solving our differences.

empathy

Self-improvement means encouraging and feeding the highest aspects within us, and starving the unsavory ones. We need to have the same commitment towards our partner. When a shadow aspect manifests but we do not feel our partner could take the constructive feedback, just ignore this aspect in silence. But under no circumstance should we feed their shadow otherwise it will come back to bite us. I once had a partner who had megalomaniac tendencies. I would be encouraging but never to the point where her ego could take the better of her. Unfortunately, she had a manager that was in love with her, and would continuously put her on a pedestal. He used her shadow to make her leave me so that he could get married with her. However, he is now the one who has to deal with the monster he has created.

3. Communication

There cannot be a relationship without communication. Communication can be verbal and non verbal. Communication is what harmonizes the uniqueness of two individuals so that a third entity, the relationship, may be created. The quality of your relationship is first determined by the quality of your communication. Communication is the invisible thread that makes the dance of relationships possible.

communication

When our partner talks to us, we figure out the best course of action. Do they just need to vent? Do they need their pain to be validated? Do they need to be felt, seen and understood through active listening? Do they need to feel protected and loved? Are they actually looking for advice? (rarely) Do they want to explore a philosophical subject? (rarely)

We strive towards achieving the best balance in sharing our problems and worries. We share vulnerably what troubles us for deeper intimacy, however we are careful not to overwhelm our partner with our challenges. We develop a sense of how much our partner is able to handle without being dragged down. If they get triggered, they will make our state worse and not better anyway. We accept the fact that our partner has limitations just as we have limitations. We put our individual problems into the right container, as we understand our partner is sacred and should not be the recipient of our own dysfunction. We make it a priority to share the positive aspects of life over the struggles. We develop a habit to see the glass half full rather than half empty without living in denial.

In the medical profession, the Hippocratic oath teaches us to abstain from all intentional wrongdoing and harm. I believe the same applies to intimate relationships. While it is impossible never to hurt an intimate partner that is so close to us, we commit never to do it intentionally. And if we do hurt them, we become introspective so as to understand on how not to do it anymore.  On the opposite, we commit to do everything in our power to bring more joy and happiness into their life.

Kindness is the antidote for shame. Kindness promotes safety in the relationship. When communication and interaction with our beloved is infused with kindness, we relax. We need less time alone to recharge because we are able to do it even more effectively in their quiet presence. Kindness allows an intimate relationship to become a refuge.

kindness

Authenticity comes with responsibility. We become aware how speaking our truth or acting from our authentic self may negatively impact our partner. We anticipate their reaction so that we can best communicate about our needs while minimizing negative impact for them. For example, if you have an urge to climb the Himalayas, you do it in a way that will guarantee your safety and at a time when your spouse can have extra support at home with the children.

Please be careful with what you are committing to because a broken promise can permanently damage the trust in the relationship. Trust is the foundation of intimate relationships. It takes one hundred consistent positive actions to earn trust but one failed promise can demolish everything. So be aware of your limitations. I recently saw a young couple where the woman was struggling with sexual inhibition because of a traumatic past of sexual objectification. We realized that she needed more space for her sexual healing so the young man committed never to initiate sex anymore and that he would leave it entirely to her. This idea came from a noble aspect of him however he was unaware of other parts of him that were unable to hold this promise. As a result, I suggested that they schedule sex once a week intentionally and leave the rest to her. This way, he will not be completely starved sexually and he could more easily create the space she needed for her sexual healing.

A relationship agreement is a wonderful way to clarify in writing how a couple can maximize happiness for each other. It brings focus and consistency in their efforts to nurture the relationship. It needs to be light and flexible for spontaneous love but precise enough to foster commitment. I encourage the couple to write an update of the relationship agreement every year as people keep changing and evolving. It should however never be used as an instrument of control, but as a gentle reminder for the partners’ dedication to love each other in the best way possible.

4. Conflict resolution

conflict resolution

Shame is like a hot potato. We throw it at each other because we are afraid to get burnt. Arguments escalate the same way as we throw back and forth the burning shame to each other. Here is an example. The husband arrives late from a long day at work and a business dinner with clients. Wife says “The kids were acting crazy tonight. I am exhausted. I hate living with an absent husband. You are never here with us”. The husband feels ashamed. It triggers his self-worth issues so he responds “Well, there needs to be someone here to pay for the mortgage, and your weekly visit to the hairdresser”. Now this triggers the wife’s insecurities that she is not good enough, and she feels guilty to take care of herself so she goes into a fit of rage. Owning the shame is what breaks this circle. The husband could have simply responded “Yes, I feel bad that I let you down tonight again. I understand you need a caring husband on your side to raise our beautiful children. I am sorry”. Then she may vent a little bit more her frustration but there is no more escalation. This couple can come close again.When we need to give feedback on something that is bothering us in the relationship, we have to learn to do it in a vulnerable way and by taking full responsibility for our feelings. “I cannot stand my life with an absent husband. You are never here with us” becomes “I am struggling with the fact that you are so busy at work. I feel I am distancing myself from you because we do not spend enough time connecting with each other”. “You are such a nagging bitch” becomes “I am starting to struggle with my self-worth because I feel I cannot make you happy no matter hard I try. I am starving for appreciation and connection”. “You are so selfish and only thinking of yourself when you have sex with me” becomes “I felt very alone and objectified when we had sex last night. I am starving for a deeper connection between us. I want to feel that we care as much for each others pleasure as we do our own”. This approach mitigates shame and allows for the beginning of a conscious discussion instead of an argument.

fragile heart

A relationship is fragile, and has potential dangers from outside (life circumstances and other relationships) or inside (incompatibilities). The couple cannot be naïve about them and instead should develop full awareness of what is menacing their union. Some of these negative external influences could be: toxic in-laws, friends not in support of the relationship, difficult stepchildren brainwashed by a jealous ex, a very demanding boss, health or financial issues, or civil unrest. Relationship threats related to various incompatibilities are even more challenging, and it takes conscious communication and a lot of flexibility not to affect the relationship negatively. While most of the time together should be focused on positive aspects, it is critical to acknowledge what could have a negative impact and not sweep it under the rug. Love is precious but it is so fragile. Awareness will advert many dangers.

I am often asked the question on what to do when both partners get triggered at the same time. Ideally, both partners should isolate in a separate room to figure out their personal trigger. It can take the form of journaling, meditation or another healing modality. In this case, the partners are incapable of being a helpful container so it is best to do the work alone. Then they can come back together later and share what they have learned in a vulnerable way after they have calmed down. However, someone with an anxious attachment style may feel even more triggered if his or her partner disappears when a conflict occurs. In this case, I recommend they stay in the same room together as they work separately in silence with their own triggers.

It is a paradox but to be able to handle conflicts successfully, we should not be afraid of conflicts. If we give in because we are afraid of our partner’s negative emotions whether it is rage or despair, we are abandoning ourselves. Nothing gets solved this way, and we keep repeating the same unconscious patterns over and over again. It is natural to be afraid but a conscious relationship demands that we do not act from a place of fear. We acknowledge the fear but we continue to act from our highest truth, no matter what the consequences are. If our partner is not able to love us enough to handle our authentic truth, then we need to accept the fact that we may be better off with a different partner. Many teachers have said that fear and not hate is the opposite of love. Let’s learn to embrace conflict rather than running away from it. Let’s bring as much conscious awareness as possible during the conflict so that we can learn from our disputes.

love me with my hairy arms

It is natural to have preferences in the way our partner looks or behaves. We can express our personal preferences however we should never use any form of manipulation such as intimidation or blackmail to control our partner’s behavior or looks. We need to respect their free will and wait for them to take this action from their own volition. Let’s say your girlfriend does not shave her underarms and you find this unattractive. You may express your preference however if she is genuinely attached to her armpit hair, you should let it go. If this is a reason for you to break up with her, then she is definitely better off without you as it shows you are unable to love her the way she is.

Rather than seeing a relationship trigger as a curse, we need to rewire ourselves to see it as an opportunity. A trigger can be seen as a long and strong rope to recover lost and buried aspects within us. They can teach us invaluable lessons, promote self-knowledge and personal healing like nothing else. They bring to our awareness existing problems that need to be addressed. They help us improve our communication. If tackled properly, they help us deepen the intimacy with our partner.

conscious relationship

Conclusion

Intimate relationships are challenging but there is nothing else that has the potential to bring us as much happiness, growth and wisdom. A conscious relationship is the ultimate reward of many years of trying, failing and learning to love. This is why many forms of art have been obsessed with romantic love and intimate partnership. It is the most beautiful reminder on this earth of the rapture of divine love. Never give up on the dream to love and to be loved.

Moving from a dysfunctional codependent relationship to a conscious one – Part I

premature baby

Please subscribe to Coach Vaillant newsletter for new exclusive content

We were born dependent. First, we were one with our mother in her womb. Then birth separated us from her. We had to start breathing on our own.  As we grow up, we learn to move on our own, to feed ourselves, to make our own decisions and live our own destiny. Little by little, we are learning autonomy however we still long for the primordial desire of fusion with our own mother. Our parents did the best they could but they passed onto us their own deficiencies so we arrive to adulthood in a state of incompleteness.  Love acts as a powerful spell because we feel incomplete and we are desperately looking for a better half to fill our void.

Falling in love is the subconscious drive towards completeness. Without this incentive, most of us will simply not have the courage to work on our shadows (mostly transgenerational). This is why intimate relationships are so difficult but also so rewarding. Shadow, more than light, is the foundation for the powerful attraction between lovers. Because we are all so afraid to change, nature gave us the perk of sex to incentivize us towards evolution. Nature gave us the ability to experience the ecstasy of integration at a physical level so that we may want to experience it at an emotional, mental and spiritual level.

Orpheus

I re-read recently the story of Orpheus. He was a demi-God, a legendary musician, poet, and prophet in ancient Greek religion. Even he could not bear the loss of his wife Eurydice. After he failed to retrieve her from the kingdom of Hades, he wandered randomly as a hermit and inconsolable, he fell prey to the Thracian Maenads. Romantic love is by far the most fulfilling experience here on earth, but it is also the most fragile. It is dependent on the free will of another human being because without genuine reciprocity, it is not a relationship. Even when both lovers are connected, many external events or people may disrupt their passion: parents, status or financial issues, visa issues, ex partners or children, illness. When it is not something external, even if they love each other very much, they may face incompatibilities that they may be unable to solve such as a different attachment style, power struggles, ineffective communication, different vision for life or preferences,  or children conflict for recomposed families. And even when everything aligns, death may take away one of the lovers leaving the other one in utter despair.

Until we are able to love ourselves and experience autonomy, we are limited to be in codependent relationships. These relationships will still help us to grow and develop but a great deal of suffering is typically associated with them. The great attraction between the lovers is proportional to their own lack and incompleteness. These relationships have amazing potential as the partners commit to grow and to do their inner work. But they will feel miserable if they resist their own expansion. They both need to realize their own incompleteness with humility, and support each other personal growth.

From my personal experience, I would like to describe the characteristics of such relationships.

At the base of the dysfunction is always the lack of SELF-LOVE. Because we do not love ourselves, we feel dependent on our romantic partner to experience love. This weak sense of self will manifest in the following forms:

self love
  • Inability or unwillingness to give space

Even the most compatible partners will have some areas where they diverge. They may not like the same type of food, enjoy different set of activities or may want spend time with different people. People who are insecure will interpret mistakenly the unwillingness to join in an activity as a sign that they are unlovable so they will put pressure on the partner to stick together even if this means that one of them will miss out on something important for him/her. This will build resentment on both sides. Other times, we may not be in an emotional state to provide adequate support to our loved one. In this case, it is best to recommend that they see a good friend or a therapist. Unfortunately, the partner will interpret this as rejection or abandonment. Of course, giving space should be more the exception than the rule otherwise there may not be enough compatibility to hold the relationship together. At the same time, it is natural for conflicting needs to arise in the course of a relationship; so giving space to each others to meet these needs separately will release considerable pressure.

  • Distrust

We all have weaknesses so we cannot be trusted in all areas. If you do not trust your partner to take the garbage out every Monday night because he is often distracted, then it is fine to give him a gentle reminder because history has proven that he is likely to forget. However, if we cannot trust our partner in aspects that are fundamental to us in the relationship, we should either work on our trust issues or exit the relationship. Without this underlying trust, there cannot be a relationship. Here are some examples of what could be a deal breaker for a couple but it varies from relationship to relationship and I highly recommend that the lovers discuss them clearly before fully committing to each other: sexual infidelity, emotional infidelity, physical or emotional abuse, circumcision of the children, caring for aging parents or stepchildren, providing financial support, regular sexual intercourse, emotional intimacy & affection. What may be a deal breaker for one couple may be insignificant for another so communication is key. The first step however is to know your own boundaries and love yourself enough not to violate them, even if this means letting go of the relationship. We can only trust our partner if we can trust ourselves.

false persona
  • Projecting a false persona

Because we believe we are unlovable, we create a false persona in order to get that love we are desperately starving for. This however is a recipe for disaster. This is very common with men.  Where they are in the courting mode, they perform lots of actions that they would simply not do in an established relationship: offering thoughtful gifts, organizing breathtaking dates, spending more money than they can afford on their beloved, being ultra gentle and considerate. Then, once their object of desire gets attached to their false persona, they relax and a less attractive personality surfaces. Inevitably, the lady feels duped and this is not a healthy foundation for a relationship. Being yourself from the start will limit the number of dates you may be able to get however what is important is the quality of the relationship and not the quantity. Here are some examples of not so innocent white lies.  We may pretend we like some activities or food we dislike, or we exaggerate our wealth, success or sexual performance. It is just a question of time for your mate to know you intimately. If she or he fell in love with a false persona, she or he will surely leave once she or he discovers your true self because this is not what she or he signed up for. Ensure to only display behaviors or attentions in your courting phase that are sustainable over the long run not to disappoint your loved one down the road.

  • Over reliance on the relationship for important needs

A mistake that many men providers do after getting married is to rely solely on their wife to organize their social life while all their energy is focused on work. If for any reason, their wife leaves them or even dies; they are left alone or completely unable to take care of themselves emotionally. The same applies for financial needs if one partner gets used to a certain lifestyle with the inability to earn money on their own. Too much dependency creates insecurity and a tendency to compromise oneself for the benefit of the relationship because we feel incapable of sustaining ourselves outside the relationship. It is healthy to be attached to someone special and it is natural to grieve when this person disappears from our life but we need to know that we have the ability, resourcefulness and the resilience to bounce back given enough time to heal. This certainty takes self-love. Unfortunately, life is unpredictable and tragedy can strike inadvertently. A certain level of dependency is healthy in a relationship so that both partners can focus on their strengths however not to a point where a person is unable to function at all without their other half. Where there is too much dependency, breakups end up being much more difficult than necessary and the abandoned partner may become revengeful and obsessed with terrible consequences.

annoying husband
  • Fixing the other person

People with lower self-esteem may feel ashamed about who they are but do not have the strength to face it. It is less dreadful to keep focusing on other people’s flaws and keep fixing them. As they focus on their partner’s weaknesses, they get distracted so that they may not see their own flaws. They resent aspects of themselves but their ego cannot admit it. So they keep projecting their deficiencies onto others. They find compliant tormented souls that are well too aware of their imperfection and actually enjoy the constant reproaches because this reminds them of their early abusive family environment where they were repeatedly put down. Constant nagging is a relationship killer. We have to put at least ten times more pressure on ourselves for positive change than our partner. Let us inspire them with our own example. And when we share constructive feedback, it is best to address it vulnerably in the first person (i.e. I feel unloved and taken for granted when you make plans without including me)

self promotion
  • Constant self-promotion

People who believe something is wrong with them have an ego that needs to hide and repress their perceived imperfections at any cost. They do not believe their value can speak for itself so they use every opportunity to express how good they are, how much they are doing for the other person, how successful they are, how much money they have, how educated they are, how good of a parent they are, how good of a cook they are, etc… When you are certain of your own value, you are happy just being and there is no need for self-advocacy. And if people are unable to see your value unless you are claiming it, you may have an inflated sense of self or it may be time to renew your circle of friends.

In the second category of characteristics of codependent relationships, we do not trust the universe to bring someone even more special after we complete the healing of a painful breakup. So we resort to manipulation to keep our partner chained to us at any cost and there are many forms of CONTROL we can exercise:

  • Deprecation

If we keep denigrating or criticizing our partner, it will lower their self-esteem. They will lose their self-confidence and they will not believe that anyone else will be able to love and appreciate them. They should just be comforted that we stick around for them. This is one of the favorite tools used by narcissists. The recipient of such abuse needs to remember that if there is genuine love & attraction, there is mutuality so one partner is not entitled to feel superior. It is likely that the two partners are replaying the abuse of their childhood whether as a victim or a perpetrator, which are two sides of the same coin.

jealousy
  • Jealousy

This is one of the indications of possessive love.  While it is natural to have sensible expectations on one’s partner, jealousy is the irrational fear of losing the object of love of which we have become dependent. So we need to limit them  (as well as their well-being and personal growth) when we should be the ones working on our limited beliefs and insecurities. We forbid them to interact or even to appreciate beauty from people of the opposite gender. We punish them emotionally through stonewalling, anger or withdrawing affection when our jealousy is triggered.

  • Power play and emotional blackmail

Every partner in a relationship typically has assets that are desired by their significant other. It may be money, beauty, sex, fame or skills. It is natural for lovers to benefit each other as long as giving comes from the heart. Manipulation comes from our transactional mind.  This is the type of actions that the transactional mind will take. We purchase a nice bag for our wife before we ask her to go to a wild bachelor party in Las Vegas with our best friend. We give her a nice massage to get sex afterwards. We buy her beautiful flowers because she is suspecting that we are having an affair with a colleague. We let our husband have sex with us so that he will stop stonewalling us. It is best to express one’s needs and concerns directly instead of resorting to manipulation. When the relationship stops feeling fair, we can communicate about it in a vulnerable way rather than punishing them without any explanation. They will probably not understand, and it will make things worse. When we do something in a transactional way, it would feel off from our partner’s perspective. She or he would feel objectified and then resentful. We will then feel unloved, confused or rejected, not understanding why our partner is always dissatisfied. It is a no win situation.

peer pressure
  • Peer pressure

We are wired to accept as truth what the majority thinks. A manipulator will often draw family members, colleagues or friends that are already loyal to them to prove a point and show they are right. Someone who is sincere will be patient with their loved ones and use logic to share their perspective, or draw from experts’ neutral opinions. For this reason, a couple should be weary to live with family or community members especially if they will automatically side with one party in case of a conflict.

A good relationship takes maturity, experience and SELF-AWARENESS. Here are some of the difficulties that couples may face unintentionally because of their lack of wisdom and personal development

  • Projection

Our intimate partner is our closest mirror. As such, we often interact with the person in the mirror, which is ourselves, instead of our lover. If we make a list of what annoys us in our partner, we will find undoubtedly aspects of us that we have repressed and judged severely. A lot of the attraction we feel for our partner comes from the fact that they express naturally what we have repressed in us. Unfortunately, instead of bringing these aspects back to the conscious mind for positive manifestation, we irrevocably repress or shame these aspects in them, reproducing in them our own fragmentation. Never forget that your intimate partner is for the most part your repressed self, and as such they have invaluable lessons to share with you if you can pay close attention.

projection
  • Needs’ conflict

We may have a tendency to impose our needs over our partner’s needs or on the opposite, put their needs before our own. Both approaches are not sustainable. People can only repress their important needs for so long. First, it takes a commitment for spouses to understand their important needs and communicate them clearly to each other. Then they should creatively think on how to meet all of their needs creatively. Partners are intimately connected so dissatisfaction in one will immediately surface in the relationship  to impact the other. By helping your significant other to get their genuine needs met, you are helping yourself to enjoy a more harmonious relationship. And an affectionate relationship will dramatically improve your quality of life and personal happiness.

double standards
  • Double standards

“Do as I say but not as I do” is the opposite of positive inspiration. It does not work with children and works even less with our partners. In a relationship, double standards can be allowed and will not build resentment only if both partners are consciously aware of them, and it feels fair to them. There are some double standards that may be customary, such as a woman waxing but not her husband. It may be accepted for one spouse not to contribute in cleaning the household if they are the one that brings in all the income. All these agreements have to be made consciously and not assumed because this is the way we were raised. There are some other double standards that may be more problematic. In recomposed families, one spouse may want a lot of focus and attention on his/her own children while feeling very uneasy around his/her partner’s children.  They may want to be the center of attention of his/her partner while providing little care for him/her. Or they may want all of their social time to be spent with his/her friends and not their significant other’s comrades. This is the fastest way to lose credibility. The Golden Rule of treating others as oneself is found in many religions and cultures for a reason.

  • Idealization followed by demonization

This is unfortunately common to so many relationships. At the beginning of a relationship, we can only see the positive in our beloved but give it a couple of years, and we can only see the negative. Then the break-up happens, and we make them literal monsters. People do not change that much and chances are that the person we adored is the same one that we now detest. We just applied a different filter. We shifted from the awareness of our own inner greatness revealed by this person to the projection of our own ugliness. The person you love is just as imperfect as you are. If you were with them, it means they were your match for the time being so demonizing them is nothing different than criticizing yourself. It is best to acknowledge with humility and truth their qualities and shortcomings, and realize that they have a lot to say about you too. Let all feelings of disappointment, anger, sadness and betrayal run inside of you because this is important for your healing, but once these emotions have run their course, strive for objectivity and truth. Forgive them in order to find peace within yourself.

splitting
  • Expectations

Expectation is the other relationship killer. As an example, we have had a long day and we expect our spouse to take care of us when we come home. It is likely that your spouse will have had the same hard day and has the same expectation. This inevitably will lead to a dispute. We always need to come back to the relationship with the intent of giving. If we are unable and we need to receive, let’s express it authentically and vulnerably. Let your partner have the freedom to not support you if they are too drained and not in the right state of mind to do it. As a general rule, you should have 10 times more expectations of yourself than your partner. This will help you receive with gratitude all the little things they do to improve your life. 

don't leave me

It is now easy to see why these types of relationships are the source of so much struggle and suffering. Love feels like a curse. Our loved one drives us insane but we cannot live without them. We are so afraid to be abandoned, or of their emotional reactions that we make a lot of compromises that hurt our personal integrity. As life’s pressures increase with children, financial & professional challenges, or illness, the dysfunctions in the relationship appear even more clearly. The relationship acts as a magnifying glass for our traumas, and our own shortcomings. The only solution is to be introspective, evolve, improve and grow in self-love and self-awareness. Then we will be able to transform our relationship or attract a new one that feels good.

Read part II

Understanding and Loving the Borderline

3 part series of the dysfunctional dance between co-dependents and borderlines

Please subscribe to Coach Vaillant newsletter for new exclusive content

Part II – Understanding and Loving the Borderline

damaged and abused doll

In traditional psychology literature, the person with BPD (borderline personality disorder) is seen as a hopeless and dangerous monster. While this disorder poses serious challenges, I have realized that it is just as dysfunctional as its codependent counterpart. This reputation is coming from the fact that PBPD (people with BPD) can be very threatening especially as they get into rage. The codependent is much more covert. He copes, plays the nice guy and manipulates. He is not threatening but we could argue that an exposed danger is safer than a covert one even if it may be more explosive.

This is actually the major difference between both disorders. They both struggle with poor self-esteem, fear of abandonment, loneliness and shame. The codependent copes while the PBPD is unable to cope. The codependent children were able to exercise a certain level of control in their environment because there was a certain level of predictability as they found coping or manipulative strategies that yielded results with their narcissistic parents. For example, as a codependent child, I could get positive feedback consistently from my grandfather and father by having good grades. I could affect my mother’s mood in how I reacted to her food. I could get her attention consistently by expressing strong emotions. The BPBD environment was much more unpredictable so they could never develop strategies to get the attention, reflection and love they were starving for. The BPBD were raised in fundamentally and profoundly invalidating environments. My mother was forbidden to use the light at night at her foster home in order to save money. Her grades suffered and she received criticism from the teachers as she kept receiving mixed messages from her environment. She was instructed to only wear poor people clothes because her foster parent was afraid that other parents might be jealous. At the same time, she was criticized the way she looked by her classmates. She was taught to wash only in the dark, as her body was sinful. A couple of borderline partners I have had would receive constant criticism from their mother and sometimes serious beatings. When they would do very well on an activity or discipline, their mother would get jealous and punish them. When the mother is borderline, it is very likely that the daughter will be a borderline too while the son would become a codependent though it may vary depending on family dynamics. Because of the invalidating and unpredictable environment, the child develops hypersensitivity to already be ready for danger and does not learn how to regulate his emotions. Their emotions go from park to 5th gear in no time. Contrary to what some experts are saying, I do not believe that BPD comes from chemical imbalance. It is coming from an early childhood invalidating environment that created this psychological condition in them, which then in turn produced the chemical imbalance. This is not a genetic disease though it often runs in the family. It is a behavioral disorder where parents make their children suffer the same way they have suffered in the hands of their own caregivers. This is coming from the fact that they had to create an internal perpetrator to cope with the caregiver they had to bond with. This ego defense mechanism came from the fact that children that were able to bond with their parents had a much higher chance of survival. Children that would wander away from the parents would be a target for predators. For this reason, the parents can never be bad from the child perspective. The children have to make themselves bad rather than the parents otherwise their survival would be at stake. This was learned through millions of years of evolution. It is safer for their survival or at least it used to be in ancestral societies. This is why children make it always their fault when their parents divorce, fight or abandon them. This is coming from our primitive brain.

unable to express abuse

People who are invalidated will usually either leave the invalidating environment, attempt to change their behavior so that it meets the expectations of their environment (codependent coping mechanism), or try to prove themselves valid by challenging the environment. The borderline dilemma arises when the individual cannot leave the environment and is unsuccessful at changing either the environment or their own behavior to meet the environment’s demands. Sexual abuse is one of the most severe form of invalidation during childhood. The victim is told that the molestation or intercourse is “OK” but that she must not tell anyone else. The abuse is seldom acknowledged by other family members, and if the child reports the abuse she risks being disbelieved or blamed. It is difficult to imagine a more invalidating experience for a child. As a result, clinical psychologists have suggested that the secrecy of sexual abuse may be the factor most related to subsequent BPD. Similarly, physical abuse is often presented to the child as an act of love or is otherwise normalized by the abusive adult. We  have a French expression “Qui aime bien, châtie bien” which is the English equivalent of “Spare the rod and spoil the child”. It means that if children are not physically punished when they do wrong, their personal development will suffer. This type of upbringing is likely to create disorganized attachment which is the attachment trauma that most PBDP are suffering from.

Not everything is bad with the borderlines

Because PBPD are so often vilified, I am going to first play the devil’s advocate by stating what is great about them

  • Because of their hypersensitivity, they can make great artists, athletes or spokespersons. Vincent Van Gogh, Marilyn Monroe, Robin Williams, Brigitte Bardot, Britney Spears, Taylor Swift, Michael Jackson, Princess Diana, Angelina Jolie, Johnny Depp, Whitney Houston, Christina Aguliera, Drew Barrymore, Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, Madonna, Mariah Carey, Megan Fox, OJ Simpson, Naomi Campbell, Rihanna, Kurt Cobain and so many more that have inspired us, all have or have had, BPD. Many actually manage to get to the top of their field, as they are able to harness their very intense energy towards a creative purpose. When they are on, they are usually incredibly productive as their internal pain allows them to tap into parts of the brain that we typically have no access to.
  • They are great lovers. Their rawness, wildness and high-intensity make sex with them an unforgettable experience. They give themselves without restraint and because of their internal torment, they have no hesitation in experiencing the darkness and the ego death that makes love-making so spicy and thrilling. They have a unique way to make their partners dissolve into the act of love with them. The femme fatale is borderline. Some experts say that the PBPD is incapable of love because they are narcissistic however in my experience, the “love bombing” from the borderline is actually sincere that can make anyone melt. Unfortunately, because the PBPD does not have a defined sense of self, the adoration can turn very quickly to violent hate and rejection. I recommend you watch the character of Carmen in the famous Bizet opera to understand this archetype. The 1984 movie with Placido Domingo is one of its most remarkable interpretation.
  • They are more authentic by default as they lack the ability to cope. They are more spontaneous, vibrant, and alive than the rest of us. “Emotional intensity” means that their emotional reactions are amplified. On the positive side, emotionally intense individuals may experience joy more easily, and thus may also be more susceptible to spiritual experiences. Many of them are charismatic and possess unique charm and magnetism. As such, they can challenge societal structures that do not serve us anymore. Their frankness can disturb and sometimes hurt, but there is often a lot to learn from it.
  • They are the most ardent defenders of the weak and vulnerable because they are able to feel their pain. Children, animals, minorities and more generally; people suffering, echo into their heart. They often advocate for a change of lifestyle to minimize suffering on this planet. They will take that extra step to make a difference in someone’s life. They are less self-centered than the rest of us when they don’t struggle with their very survival. Brigitte Bardot, the French sex symbol of the 1960s, said when she retired “I gave my beauty and my youth to men. I am going to give my wisdom and experience to animals.”

The truth however is that being with a borderline is difficult, and it is up to some of us involved with PBPD to decide if it is worth it or not. Because of my own childhood traumas, I have been in a mission to create happy and fulfilling relationships with PBPD. As a result, I became an expert in loving the borderline which is nothing else than controlling the uncontrollable. I am single today so these efforts ultimately failed, or maybe succeeded, as I regained my autonomy through this healing journey and that I am now able to help others going similar dynamics.

Hysteria

I adore this video. It is based on an actual email exchange between “Mike” and his abusive, BPD girlfriend, “Susan”. I have had probably thousands of similar types of arguments over the last 25 years. Susan is completely in her hurt emotions and Mike is protecting himself by being rational but he is also cut from his emotions as he feels unsafe. The two people are not connecting and they could argue for hours to no avail. What I have learned the hard way is that when a borderline is triggered, there is no amount of rational discussions that would do any good. At this point, the mind of the borderline is completely controlled by their negative emotions so wise thoughts will be pointless. Matching the borderline intensity through the same intensity is never a good option either. The borderline is an escalator so if both of you escalate the argument, you will just end up killing each other. Staying silent, present and looking at their eyes with compassion is a better option however it would not help them release their internal pain and torment. Unfortunately, it would often just reinforce their shame. We need to understand that PBPD feel really bad about themselves and being so much out of control all the time. So staying in control like Mike even in a loving way will just reflect their own inadequacy.

De-escalate the PBPD with heartfelt validation

empathy and emotion validation

This is the magic wand and it works! The first thing to do with the PBPD you love is always heartfelt validation. I am saying heartfelt because the PBPD is very sensitive and will be able to feel right away if your validation is not sincere and mechanical. This will just infuriate her even more (I will use “she” for the PBPD because of my own personal relationship experience however some studies say that BPD is just as common in men than in women). She has a very sophisticated BS detector! So you need to be creative and find a way to validate her emotions in a way that is precise and genuine. It is always safe to start with fillers like “you are right to feel this way, anyone in your situation would feel the exact same way”. This will put her in a state of receptivity and at this point, it is best to use your own experience to show how you can relate to what she is experiencing internally. Validation is so important to the PBPD because she carries intense shame so validation is the way to neutralize it. The PBPD was raised in a very invalidating environment where she learned that there is something wrong about herself and how she feels. She has internalized self-loathing as a coping mechanism and this is creating huge amounts of anxiety in her. Let me give you a couple of examples to how validation works. Let’s start with the easier situation when she got very upset with something that does not concern you. It is easier but still challenging because if you do respond to the PBPD in a specific way, a problem that was not connected to you may become all about you, and how insensitive and uncaring you are. So you are still walking on eggshells.

“ I am such a shitty mum. I am just screwing up this child”

“I think you are a great mum. You really care about your child’s emotional well-being like no one else”

“I can only spend with him one day a week with undivided attention. And I feel so drained by the end of my day with him. I am simply not made to be a mum”

“The quality of time you spend with him is more important that the quantity. The fact that he is always asking for you shows that he really enjoys your time together, and how much he feels you care for him. You are really creative coming up with new projects to do together. It is fun and it is helping his development a lot”

“You really think so?”

“Yes, I believe he is really lucky to have a mum like you.. I would have killed to have a mum like you”

PBPD is feeling better. Get closer, hug and connect. Then she naturally goes on her day.

Let’s say now you are not attuned enough to the PBPD that you love, and say instead…

“Yes. Maybe you could try to find ways to spend more time with him. This could help his self worth and development. It seems like he is struggling”

At this point, you have triggered the shame of the PBPD and a discussion that was initially unrelated to you will become solely about you and the relationship

“If you made more money and if you were not such a loser, then I could spend more time with my son.”

“Why are you attacking me? I was just trying to help you”

“You are also such a lousy stepdad. All the pressure is on me because he cannot connect to you.”

“I am spending a day a week with him and I am putting a lot of energy into him”

“Yes, but it feels like you do not want to be there when you are playing with him. And he is feeling it. You have no desire to be a stepdad. This is breaking my heart when I see other men having fun with him. I just wish that were you. It makes me doubt that we should really be together”

“Why are you bringing this up now? This is really hurting me”

“Our relationship is doomed. You say you love me but you cannot connect to my own child. I should have better listened to my instincts. I keep making the same mistake with men”

“This is too much. I have to leave this discussion”

“Yes, get the fuck out of here. We can never talk together. If you leave this room, you may never see me again”

A couple of things happened here. By expressing what you thought was a constructive criticism to make things better, you have triggered the shame of the PBPD. Shame is like a hot potato so she has to give it right back to you. If you are with a PBPD, the chance is that you are struggling with core shame too so she will find a way to get you triggered too by showing how inadequate you are. If this does not work, she will escalate to trigger your abandonment issues that all codependents are struggling with. What is important to realize is that the PBPD is switching the tables on you for her emotional survival, as she cannot regulate her own emotions.

Inability to regulate emotions

emotion dysregulation

Invalidating environments during childhood contribute to the development of emotion dysregulation; they also fail to teach the child how to label and regulate arousal, how to tolerate emotional distress, and when to trust their own emotional responses as reflections of valid interpretations of events. As adults, borderline individuals adopt the characteristics of the invalidating environment. They struggle to regulate negative emotions, have high sensitivity to negative emotional stimuli and show slow return to emotional baseline. As they feel powerless to regulate emotions internally, PBPD attempt to regulate their emotions externally, typically through unstable relationships. PBPD are well known to engage in self-harming behaviors such as cutting. Someone not BPD does not understand this type of behavior. Cutting hurts so why would someone do something so painful to herself? People asking this question have never been through the emotional hell that PBPD go through on a daily basis. Their emotional pain is so intense that physical pain feels like a release. This also explains why BPDs are such great and intense lovers. Sex allows them to get a break from their internal emotional hell and give them a well-needed release. This is the most positive physical release they can get but they need to feel good about their partner for this experience to be healing. The PBPD goes from park to 5th gear with her emotions. Once she is triggered, it is going to take a considerable amount of time and energy to bring her back to a calmer state. Another positive way for a PBPD to regulate her emotions is exercising. Running, spinning or any other type of hard physical exercise where she can exhaust herself will help her regulate emotions that went wild. Unfortunately, she often chooses to fight with her loved ones and fix them as a way to get a release. Their codependent partner is their most common way to regulate their emotions and this is why PBPD are often diagnosed with love addiction. This is coming from their intense fear of loneliness. For that reason, they are perceived to be needy, demanding and entitled.

Borderline individuals, more so than most, seem to do well when in stable, positive relationships and do poorly when not in such relationships. My mother has done considerably better since she has been married to my stepdad, a remarkably caring man. They desperately need connection as their attachment traumas make them feel they are unlovable so they hysterically look for external validation to fill their inner void. When you are receiving the tail end of a BPD crisis, it is hard to realize that the person abusing you is desperately looking for love & connection. She was abused herself by her primary caretakers so she had to internalize abuse as love to survive a very damaging environment. When a PBPD has an urge to cut, I recommend giving her an ice cube. This will allow her to experience physical pain in a safe way and that will help her regulate her emotions. You may want to press very hard her forearms to create the same relief in a safe way. Hugging her very hard can be helpful too as long as you are careful not to injure her. You may try to blast rap music and get her to dance with the rhythm. The key is to help her release the very intense self-destructive emotions. Emotions have gone too toxic to be processed internally and they need a physical release. The key is to empower them to find ways to release these emotions in a way that do not destroy their lives and the people around them. Unfortunately, PBPDs are often tempted with destructive ways to release themselves from their unbearable internal torment. Elevated rates of borderline personality disorder (BPD) have been found among individuals with substance use disorders (SUDs), especially cocaine-dependent patients. This population is very susceptible to addiction with illegal drugs. The addiction with legally prescribed opioid drugs is just as dangerous and kill many of them every year. PBPD are prescribed opioid pain medications at increasing and alarming rates. When they do not overdose from these drugs, the prescribed medications weaken their health through their many side effects, increase dependency and impact negatively their functioning. Our mental health system is corrupted and most psychiatrists spend their time prescribing dangerous opioid drugs instead of supporting patients to heal their trauma. We live in a system that promotes dependency over autonomy because it is financially beneficial to key players of the pharmaceutical industry. PBPD are a vulnerable population that is paying the price often at the cost of their lives for these economic choices. New clinical trials are coming out using shamanic medicine with DMT, MDMA or psilocybin to treat populations with PTSD with very encouraging results. As most PBPD suffer from complex PTSD, these treatments offer significant healing potential especially as they are far less addictive than prescribed opioid medications.

suicidal tendencies constant dark thoughts

The most destructive way PBPD attempt to escape their emotional pain is suicide. Research has shown that around 70 percent of people with BPD will have at least one suicide attempt in their lifetime, and many will make multiple suicide attempts. Between 8 and 10 percent of PBPD will complete suicide, which is more than 50 times the rate of suicide in the general population. There is not a single day when PBPD are not contemplating suicide, as the thought of putting a term to their lives feels like a release. Because suicide is always a temptation for PBPD, it is critical that they have strong reasons to keep living such as raising a child, not hurting their loved ones or a personal life mission with greater purpose. Take this meaning away from the PBPD, and they will not hesitate to commit the irreparable. People who commit suicide do not want to die, but to end their pain. This is why it is so important to help PBPD to deal with their emotions in constructive ways.

Hypersensitivity & Overreaction

We discussed previously the positive aspects of hypersensitivity but it also poses some challenges. Partings that would cause to feel antsy may precipitate very intense and painful grief; what would cause slight embarrassment for another may cause deep humiliation; annoyance may turn to rage; shame may develop from slight guilt; apprehension may escalate to a panic attack or incapacitating terror.

Actually much of the borderline individual’s emotional distress is a result of secondary responses (e.g., intense shame, anxiety, or rage) to primary emotions. Often the primary emotions are adaptive and appropriate to the context. The reduction of this secondary distress requires exposure to the primary emotions in a nonjudgmental atmosphere, a validating environment.

I have a friend married to a BPD that is an agriculture expert. Summer is for him the busy season and he leaves the house at 6 AM to return after 10 PM every night. His wife expressed her anguish of having him gone so long. He initially shut her down because he makes most of the family yearly income during this time and he knew he could not change the nature of his work for her. This allows them to have a very good lifestyle and some amazing vacations with the children for the rest of the year. Overtime he learned to stop being defensive and to validate her separation anxiety instead of triggering additional emotions of shame and anxiety. This way, without changing anything around the necessities of his job, his wife is experiencing some manageable anguish instead of completely falling apart. He is avoiding crises, hours long disputes and his wife’s emotional breakdown. By improving his communication, he dramatically improved the quality of their life together around this incompatibility. This is fortunate how they really love each other and they have a beautiful family together.

He would say initially “Why are you upset? Who is going to pay for the mortgage and pay for the kids if I do not work my ass off in the summer? I make in one summer what you make in 5 years. I am tired and I need support instead of having you nagging at me for something I have no control over. Do you think I am having fun working 15 hours a day? Can you stop acting irrational?”

This would trigger her secondary emotions of shame and their dispute would escalate. He would then get even less sleep which would make her feel even more guilty. They were in a vicious circle.

His dialog is now much more different “Honey. I understand I am asking a big sacrifice from you every summer. It is really hard to have someone you love gone so much. Everyone in your situation would feel the same way. I miss you a lot too. I am so impressed how you are able to handle the kids, the house, your job and taking care of me during this critical time. I simply could not do it without you. When the summer is over, I promise to make it up to you. I have planned an amazing vacation for all of us in October.” He also mitigates the pressure by getting some of her family & friends visiting during that time and getting additional household support. With his new communication, no secondary emotions are triggered which makes it manageable.

third degree burn victim

Borderline individuals are the psychological equivalent of a third-degree burn patient. They simply have, so to speak, no emotional skin. If we touch a burn patient, and they start yelling, we are not saying that they overreact. Unfortunately, we dismiss what is not visible to the naked eye so we make the PBPD reactions wrong. This triggers their shame even more and this causes them to lose their temper on a seemingly trivial situation. PBPD are commonly shamed for their neediness. It is quite unfair, as we would not shame an infant or a cancer patient to be needy. Because we cannot see with our physical eyes how emotionally damaged are the PBPD, we judge them as needy, dependents and drama queens. Because PBPD are in desperate need of other people, they have learned to be creative to get people, and this is why many of them have become great lovers, cooks or entertainers. When faced with limited resources, they use their natural talents and charisma to draw people around them in ways that is more socially acceptable.

They carry deep insecurity and have a constitutional incapacity to tolerate much stress, especially in their interpersonal life. Events that might not bother many people are likely to bother them. They are known to make a mountain out of a molehill. If you love a PBPD, it is critical to learn to love her the way she is instead of attempting to fix her. Any of these attempts will just trigger her shame and makes your life even more miserable. If you love a PBPD, you need to ask yourself if you would stay with this person even if they would never change. If the response is negative, it is probably best to end the relationship. A break-up with a PBPD is very painful however both of you will eventually heal while a relationship where both continuously project their shame into each other is permanent hell. The PBPD can also feel if you are with them by obligation or guilt rather than love.

Impaired Thinking from Overwhelming Emotions

Some of the PBPD I know are highly intelligent however, even with them, the intensity of their emotions is overwhelming their thinking ability. Their hurt, anger and other negative emotions are corrupting the objectivity of their thinking. This is why it is pointless to have a rational discussion with PBPD once they are triggered. Our thinking brain (neocortex) is no match to our reptilian brain because it ensures our survival. Some PBPD are able to be more objective once they come back to a calmer state but most feel too insecure and powerless to consider the reality of their dysfunction. They would rather take the role of the victim to avoid the shame related to their behavior.

splitting

PBPDs have black & white thinking or “splitting”. They lack the ability to see simultaneously both the positive and negative qualities of the self and others into a cohesive, realistic whole. They tend to think in extremes, interpreting others actions and motivations as all good or all bad with no middle ground. Even when they excel in their professional occupation, they will oscillate between a state where they think they are a fraud, ready to be fired to boasting how good they are. It truly feels as a “split” personality. The same pattern is seen even more clearly with their relationship. Once in a relationship, they idolize their intimate partners, see them as their twin flame, as the best thing that happened to them but once the relationship ends, they demonize them often by making up stories and rallying everyone around them to substantiate their perceived abuse. They refuse to see that they were with the same person at the beginning and at the end of the relationship. It is their perception of their loved one that changed overtime. At the end of a relationship, they frantically discard any sign they ever were romantically involved with their ex in the hope it would take away the pain related to their abandonment and internal sense of inadequacy. They internally wish that their exes fall apart emotionally after the break-up to improve their self-esteem and not face their internal shame of contributing to the separation. This would make them the good guys that tried everything to make it a successful relationship but the partner was simply “too damaged”. It is projection that helps them not to feel abandonment. I knew a PBPD that played mind games with her ex to drive him to the point of insanity. He was still in love with her and coping by drinking alcohol. I could sense below the surface how much she took satisfaction on his addiction. This way, she could easily justify to others the end of the relationship on his dysfunction while she had a large part in it. If you are ending a relationship with a PBPD, do not fall into this trap. Do your healing work and be the first one to get back on your feet. Stay away from the drama and create an environment conducive to your healing. It is part of the psychological make-up of the ex PBPD to get you to sink so that they look good to themselves and others. This is why many PBPDs will continue to harass their exes even years after they break up, and they will use any opportunity to damage your friendships, your career, the connection with your children and your enjoyment of life.

In the treatment of BPD, the therapist would help them see both black and white, and to achieve a synthesis of the two that does not negate the reality of either. PBPD inappropriately attribute all blame and responsibility for negative events sometimes to themselves and other times to others. The goal is to help them to be more objective and to realize that both parties made sincere efforts but also mistakes.

catastrophizing

PBPD are constantly catastrophizing, or anticipating disastrous scenarios. They have hopeless expectancies, or pessimistic predictions based on selective attention to negative events in the past or present, rather than on verifiable data. Borderline individuals frequently respond to any relapse or small failure as an indication that they are total failures and may as well give up. Once, I did an awareness exercise with my borderline partner and it was fascinating to watch how she made every stimulus into a negative thought. We are driving on a highway, and she imagines the people that crash at this intersection. She sees a pregnant woman and she feels infertile. I mentioned an exciting upcoming trip and she imagines the plane to crash. Considering the train of thoughts in her mind, I could understand why she was so tormented. As a child, negative focus was  their coping mechanism to protect themselves from continuous disappointment, and they bring this destructive mental habit into adulthood. If you forget your cell phone and are coming home late, they will imagine that you died in a car accident about 50 times, and will be intensely angry with you when you show up as you purposely tried to hurt them. They also experience chronic feelings of emptiness and loneliness. The PBPD has a tendency to ruminate about traumatic events over and over again. The rumination not only perpetuates the crises, but can generate new crises whose relationship to the original crises is often overlooked. A PBPD is a bit like an overtired child on a family outing. Once overtired, the child may become upset at every minor frustration and disagreement, crying and having tantrums at the slightest provocation. If the parents focus on trying to resolve every individual crisis, little progress will be made. It is far better to attend to the original problem— lack of sleep and rest. By the same token, it is often more effective to help the PBPD regulate her state first than problem solving right away what she is afraid about. As Albert Einstein said “Problems cannot be solved with the same mind set that created them” so focusing first on improving the PBPD state is sensible.

Narcissism

the narcissist

Any human being in a state of survival stops caring for others, so when a borderline is experiencing an emotional crisis, they may appear narcissistic. It is not so much that they stop feeling others but rather their internal pain is overriding their natural empathy for others. They are naturally quite empathic and compassionate people as they are hypersensitive and feel other people’s pain better than most. However this stops once they get triggered. This is why after they come back to a calmer state, they often experience intense guilt about the harm they caused others during their crises. Or alternatively, they can block their conscience and demonize the other in order not to feel this guilt. However, this type of denial will worsen their mental health.

NPD (Narcissistic Personality Disorder) is different than BPD, however these two disorders originate from attachment traumas. Both PNPD and PBPD have intense fear of abandonment, self-loathing and low self-esteem (covert for the NPD).

For this reason, it is common for PBPD, especially the “successful” ones to display NPD symptoms:

  • An exaggerated sense of one’s own abilities and achievements
  • A constant need for attention, affirmation, and praise
  • A belief that you are unique or “special,” and should only associate with other people of the same status
  • Persistent fantasies about attaining success and power
  • Exploiting other people for personal gain
  • A sense of entitlement and expectation of special treatment
  • A preoccupation with power or success
  • Feeling envious of others, or believing that others are envious of you
  • A lack of empathy for others

In this case, BPD and NPD symptoms will fluctuate in the same individual as different personalities. It is sometimes hard to comprehend how the same person can go from a state where they want to commit suicide, as they feel so completely worthless, to a state of grandiosity where they can get into full rage if others do not consider their superiority. It is simply two sides of the same token where the self feels deeply insecure and unworthy of love. They feel they do not exist or embody evil as they carry an unstable self-image or sense of self and suffer from identity disturbance. Devaluating oneself or devaluating others is in a sense the same thing. This is why so many PBPD have narcissistic traits. They follow a pattern of unstable and intense interpersonal relationships characterized by alternating between extremes of idealization and devaluation.

The inability to let go of “being right” in favor of achieving goals is, of course, related to borderline patients’ experiences with invalidating environments. I would often ask my BPD partners if they would rather be right or be loved. This question would irritate them as unmistakably, being right feels the most important thing to them.

Just like with PNPD, when friends, therapists or acquaintances try to share helpful tips or recommendations, they are often experienced as discouraging or as manifestations of lack of love and appreciation. They overact to mild criticism or rejection, so gross that it suggests paranoia or even outright delusion.

Struggling with Accountability

rebel

We saw how the step of validating the hurt inner child is so critical as it helps neutralize shame in the PBPD. However if all we do is to dwell on the pain, and identify with the hurt inner child, we will just end up being controlled by an angry, depressed, immature and sometimes mean (internal) little boy or little girl. Recently, a woman posted in a forum how horrible was another woman to get a high margin from her work as a personal organizer, that she felt exploited and decided to go on her own. I praised her for her decision to start her own company but went to educating her on the reality of business not realizing she only wanted validation. She became very angry at me and started personal attacks with a clear intent to hurt. All she wanted to hear was how bad the other woman was and that she should rot in hell. There was no interest in any other perspective and while I made the mistake of not feeling into her before commenting, redirecting her anger to someone else without any self-awareness was not going to support her healing.

The PBPD is often stuck between complete powerlessness and anger, with anger being a higher state. We can think of ourselves as a trinity: inner child, adult and higher self. When we fully identify with the deep emotional pain of the inner child, whether it is loneliness, depression, despair, or anger, it is important to bring our adult and higher selves without abandoning the inner child. The inner adult can bring wisdom and encouragement to the hurt inner child, while the higher self can remind us of our innate perfection and ultimate nature as love. We have to teach all three to work and support each other. Suppressing the inner child is the most dangerous thing to do, as it will manifest externally as tragedy. And I am speaking from experience. The inner child contains our shadow but it is also the seat of the soul and the key in understanding our divine nature. As you dive deeper into it, you will actually meet the internalized aspects of the shadows of your primary caretakers within the inner child. You may be a high-energy successful executive and have a repressed depressed aspect from your mother and a repressed addict from your father side. Under duress, these repressed aspects may take over abruptly to the astonishment of your friends and family. These shadow aspects within ourselves have to be met consciously and ultimately loved for true integration to take place. This is where the step of accountability is so important. It will allow the PBPD to move from anger to sadness with self-awareness, which is where healing actually starts. If the lady mentioned above had gone there, she could have said for example “I am sad that I do not fit into this business world. I am terrified at the idea of finding my own clients and this could involve a lot of rejection. I am afraid to start my own business as the level of administrative complexity overwhelms me”. After experiencing her sadness and fears, she can then naturally move into problem solving.

This is easier said than done. This is why PBPD suffer from inhibited grieving. They have a tendency to inhibit and overcontrol negative emotional responses, especially those associated with grief and loss, including sadness, anger, guilt, shame, anxiety, and panic. For this reason, they are unable to grieve as they compulsively find a way out of experiencing the negative emotion consciously. This is why clinical trials with MDMA or DMT have showed efficacy in treating patients with PTSD. The plant medicine forces them into experiencing the trauma because every resistance is met with unsustainable torment so they have no other option than letting go. Inhibited grieving is understandable among borderline patients. People can only stay with a very painful process or experience if they are confident that it will end some day, some time— that they can “work through it,” so to speak. It is not uncommon to hear PBPD say they feel that if they ever do cry, they will never stop. Indeed, that is their common experience— the experience of not being able to control or modulate their own emotional experiences. They become, in effect, grief-phobic. In the face of such helplessness and lack of control, inhibition and avoidance of cues associated with grieving are not only understandable, but perhaps wise at times. Inhibition, however, has its costs. Borderline individuals are constantly re-exposed to the experience of loss, start the mourning process, automatically inhibit the process by avoiding or distracting themselves from the relevant cues, re-enter the process, and so on in a circular pattern that does not end. For healing to take place, the PBPD has to learn to grieve deeply in order to end grieving.  Through accountability, the PBPD needs to confront rather than avoiding the crises they are experiencing.

The slightest touch or movement can create immense suffering for the borderline. Yet, on the other hand, life is movement. Healing, at its best, requires both movement and touch. Thus, the process of healing itself cannot fail to cause intensely painful emotional experiences for the PBPD. The PBPD must have the courage to encounter the pain that arises. The experience of their own vulnerability that sometimes leads borderline individuals to extreme behaviors such as suicidal behaviors. This work is better facilitated when they are surrounded by loving friends, family members or a skilled compassionate therapist. Ultimately, however, they are the ones that need to experience these painful emotions consciously with a slow breathing and a relaxed body. No one else can do this work for them if they are going to learn to regulate their own emotions internally rather than externally. It will feel like at first that they are jumping into the abyss but overtime they will build confidence with this process of healing.

PBPD lack of accountability is often expressed as active passivity behaviors. They have a tendency to passive interpersonal problem-solving style, and not engage actively in solving their own life problems. They make active attempts to solicit problem solving from others in the environment while rejecting all suggestions. This translates into learned helplessness. When they experience intense emotional pain and vulnerability, the PBPD frequently believes that others (friends, family or therapist) could take away the pain if only they would. If they attempt to bring back the responsibility of their emotional state to the PBPD, they will be met with rage as this will trigger the PBPD immense shame of regulating her emotions. Once triggered, PBPD are often unable to distract themselves from the emotion. I had a borderline partner that always wanted to be on the same page. She could not agree to disagree, or postpone the resolution of the conflict to another time. She could not sleep if something was not resolved so intense discussions could go well into the middle of the night leaving us completely exhausted by the morning. When people currently involved with PBPD also fall into the trap of inconsistently appeasing her (basically their matching codependent partner) — sometimes giving in to and reinforcing high-rate, high-intensity aversive emotional expressions and other times not doing so— they are recreating conditions for the person’s learning of relationship-destructive behaviors. For this reason, codependents will make the PBPD mental health worse. They will never incentivize their borderline partners to become accountable too as they benefit from the dependency.

Kurt Cobain

Another trait of PBPD making it hard to step into accountability is apparent competence. They have a tendency to appear deceptively more competent than they actually are. These individuals are typically very gifted and talented in some specific areas so people assume mistakenly a high degree of functioning in all aspects of their lives. As a result, they experience intense shame at behaving dependently in a society that cannot tolerate dependency, so they have learned to inhibit expressions of negative affect and helplessness whenever the affect is within controllable limits. It is hard for a PBPD to step into accountability if they know they are going to be judged and possibly rejected when they share in a vulnerable way their actual limits.

DBT (dialectical behavior therapy) developed by Marsha Linehan is the most effective therapy for BPD that does not involve drugs. It has been called a “blackmail therapy” by some, as patients that do not improve can be let go by their therapists on the basis that “Continuing an ineffective therapy is unethical”. Actually, the real goal is to get PBPD into accountability even if this means triggering their abandonment issues. CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) mostly fail with PBPD because it focuses on changing the patient which is invalidating. On the opposite, DBT is based on the patient’s inherent ability to get out of the misery of her life and build a life worth living. It promotes autonomy and the DBT therapist finds and plays to the patient’s strengths, not to her fragility. The therapist believes in their patients and coaches them in how to resolve the problems themselves.

you are not alone

Reading these two articles on codependents and borderlines may just have increased your powerlessness and anxiety, as you are likely to find some of these aspects within yourself. This is why the third and last section of this series will focus on solutions and how we may be able to heal from these conditions. Actually 98% of the population is struggling with some light or severe form of the 10 personality disorders defined by the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) so we are not alone out there. The same 98% of us have a hurt inner child that requires healing, re-parenting and integration. So we are in an essence a bunch of hurt kids just pretending to be adults 🙂

Read part I – The dark side of the co-dependent

Read part III – Growing and healing together as a couple

The dark side of the co-dependent

3 part series of the dysfunctional dance between co-dependents and borderlines

Please subscribe to Coach Vaillant newsletter for new exclusive content

Part I – The dark side of the co-dependent

Disclosure: I am not a licensed therapist so I am not qualified to use these terms in a therapy setting. I have however studied this topic very closely as a tool for self-improvement and self-observation. I am just sharing my own understanding and experience on this matter with the hope it may heal your own relationships and help you to love yourself at a deeper level.

teddy bear behind bars

My mother was a discouraged borderline and my father was a codependent. My sister is a borderline, my brothers are codependent and I have been on a life long journey to heal my codependency too. Almost all of my intimate partners have struggled with borderline personality disorder. I am hopefully closer to live a more authentic life as I have brought awareness to my subconscious patterns.

I have shared with you in my previous blog how my attachment traumas made me a match to a cult. The same attachment traumas made me a match to dysfunctional intimate relationships. A number of us with personality disorders can actually be high-functioning according to societal standards. You will find many successful CEOs, performers, top politicians that are narcissistic, borderline or active co-dependents. These personality disorders can best be seen in our personal and intimate lives that suffer greatly from these personality disorders coming from childhood attachment traumas.

I can see that my intimate relationships have been plagued with negative core beliefs coming from an early age. Initially, as a young man, because of my own abandonment traumas, I was deeply avoidant as I was convinced to be unworthy of love. I believed that it was just a question of time for my intimate partners to leave me. I would push them away and they would break-up with me, as they felt unloved.  I felt unloved and unlovable as a result while these partners would actually deeply care for me. It was a vicious circle feeding self.

Captain save a hoe

Because I felt unlovable as I was, I decided subconsciously that I need a hook for my loved ones to stay with me and not abandon me. I entered a rescuer phase. As a friend jokingly put it, I became “Captain save a hoe”. In my early twenties, I fell in love with an impulsive borderline in a desperate situation. She had a son with a thug in the northern suburbs of Paris. He was a gambler that would still money from her while she did not even have enough money to feed the child. He used the child to control her. He would sometimes take the child out of the balcony of the 20th floor and threaten to drop him if she did not obey his demands. After I started a relationship with her, my heart broke when I felt the pain of this child. I took many risks to get them out of this desperate situation and we eventually managed to immigrate to the USA together. The relationship eventually ended. I was shut off emotionally past the limerence stage as I continued to focus on external activities to be worthy of love instead of emotionally investing into the relationship. I had no clue that my partner actually wanted to be with me but I felt so unlovable that it seemed like a foreign concept. My partner eventually cheated on me as she was starving emotionally and struggling with her own issues. I felt deeply betrayed and was so confused. How could she leave me after everything I had done for her? As this was not enough, I repeated the exact same experience with a Russian woman and her son a year later. She lived with a violent man who abused her physically. I helped them immigrate to the US as well. Our relationship ended up in the same miserable way and I felt taken advantage, unaware of my own part in the dramas that were unfolding.

These painful experiences made me change my strategy for partners. I felt attracted to stronger and more successful women. However, there needed to be something about these women that was difficult to be with. Something that would keep other men away so that they would not cheat on me. Something that only me could handle so that they would be less likely to abandon me and repeat the abandonment trauma with my mum. The high functioning borderline met these criteria as they share the same abandonment traumas as I did.

taker and caretaker

Codependents and borderlines are a very common pair. This relationship dynamic allows the codependents to slip into “caretaker” roles, giving priority and focus to problems in the life of the person with BPD (Borderline Personality disorder) rather than to issues in their own lives. No one’s ego likes to see its own dysfunctions as it brings up shame, something especially excruciating for a codependent with a weak sense of self. In these kinds of relationships, the codependent will gain a sense of worth by being “the sane one” and “the responsible one” as he makes the borderline “the crazy one” or “the sick one”. High functioning borderlines are often more narcissistic too. Codependents can provide the narcissist with an obedient and attentive audience that matches the needs of the self-absorbed narcissist. Among the reciprocally interlocking interactions of the pair are the narcissist’s overpowering need to feel important and special and the co-dependent person’s strong need to help others feel that way. Actually, borderline/narcissistic people are only able to create relationships with codependents. A healthy individual with an authentic self could not alternate the roles of perpetrator, rescuer and victim that the borderline requires. Only the codependent can do this as a personality split is required. Their lives together are an endless roller coaster and they alternate control during crises. The codependents submit and weather the storm as the borderlines/narcissists get into their rant or rage. They know however that it is just a matter of time for the borderlines/narcissists to crash. At that time, they can play their favorite caretaker role and get back in control once again. For this reason, it is in the interest of the codependents to worsen and not improve their partners’ mental health. This is a dark side of codependents that only few people understand. This is why they are called enablers. They are enabling and feeding on the most dysfunctional aspects of their partners instead of keeping them accountable for their harmful actions. The borderline is seen in most psychology books as the evil one and the codependent as the good one but the reality is that their shadows are a perfect mirror of each other. The codependent is actually more dangerous as his darkness is more covert. I have worked with many women that had violent and sexually abusive fathers. I have found that they experienced even deeper traumas with their own mothers as they looked the other way and made excuses for their husbands’ behaviors all during the time the abuse was taking place. The child would feel hope as the codependent mother would complain about the father behind his back but felt betrayed over and over again as the mother showed her loyalty to her husband first in her actions. The borderline and the codependent mirror each other attachment traumas, core shame, lack of self-esteem and pathological loneliness. These attributes are directly expressed with the borderline and repressed with the codependent.

Through introspection and the observation of codependents through the diverse communities I have been part of, I have dived deeper into the characteristics of the codependents that I will share with you below. I was able to see the horror of my own psychological make-up through external mirrors and started healing it as a result. I hope you can do the same as you see aspects of yourself in a vulnerable way through the examples below.

  • No sense of self, low self‐esteem, poor boundaries, absence of conscience
narcissist and codependent

In its broadest definition, a codependent is someone who cannot function from their innate self and whose thinking and behavior is instead organized around another person, or even an organization, or substance. This condition originates from childhood trauma. In the dysfunctional family, the child learns to become attuned to the parent’s needs and feelings instead of the other way around. As a result, the child becomes disconnected from his authentic feelings, as there was no space for the essence of who he is. Codependent people are fixated on another person for approval or sustenance and need to attach themselves to a stronger personality. Poor self‐esteem lowers your expectations of being treated well so we accept the unreasonable demands from our narcissistic/borderline partner with little resistance. Growing up in dysfunctional families, we learn to not trust our perceptions and what we know. We just abide by the narcissist. Most codependents find themselves in relationships where their primary role is that of rescuer, supporter, and confidante. These helper types are often dependent on the other person’s poor functioning to satisfy their own emotional needs and this is the only time they find a sense of self-worth. The codependents cannot believe they can be loved for who they are so they are asking to be given a role where they can be used by their narcissistic partner. They hope to make themselves indispensable through this role so that they would not be abandoned. Their abandonment fears and core shame overpower their conscience so they have lost their inner compass to what is right or wrong. They have delegated it instead to the narcissist, the organization of the substance. As a result, codependents lack authentic and inner accountability. Instead, they do things to stay out of trouble from their partners. They have the feeling to always walk on eggshells as they spend their lives to please their partners and loved ones from the often contradictory feedback they receive externally instead of relying on their inner guidance system that they have shut down to survive their early childhood. Let me give you a couple of examples that I have witnessed personally.

A confidante of a spiritual teacher was asked to lead a group through a process. She started working with the group but in the middle of it, she felt her presence was required next to her teacher so she left without notice leaving all attendees open, vulnerable & incomplete in their healing.

In the cult the Fellowship of Friends, a woman who was struggling raising her child for both financial and emotional reasons asked the narcissistic cult leader what to do. The leader never had children, did not like to be around children and was a sexual predator. He told her to give him for adoption to a couple he designated. Though they were taken by surprise, all parties complied. This left the child with severe abandonment traumas.

A man fell madly in love with a woman but she came from a higher social class. They married and had a child but he compensated his social status insecurity by becoming a workaholic and building/running a successful trucking business. One day, the child died in a car accident. When his wife informed him of the tragedy, he responded he would come after he was done with all his meetings of the day. When he finally came home, he told his wife that nothing could be done, as the son was already dead so life had to go on. The wife left him, as she felt her husband was as sensitive as a cold stone. He later collapsed emotionally and became homeless.

A son visited his dad after not seeing him for 2 years to celebrate his grandmother birthday with him. He spent a day with him then asked to have a walk with him to talk. The father who was afraid that he would get in trouble with his wife (his stepmum) to spend more time away from her encouraged his son to leave right away. The son could not tell him in person that he was getting a divorce with his wife.

As a prank, I showed the most ridiculous video once of an individual portraying himself as a tantric master and I told the manager of a spiritual teacher that she wanted to work with him and invite him to her facility. Though he was conservative and in any other circumstances would have been outraged at the video, he expressed that he was impressed with the tantric teacher and would do the necessary to bring him. I was in complete disbelief that the prank worked so well with no resistance on his part.

A community member of a spiritual teacher fell in love with a woman. He wanted to have children with her but his teacher could not handle having children around him. His teacher required him to continue living with him at the same time. He complied and buried the issue. His girlfriend eventually left him as she understood her family life and her needs would be always second to the whims of his partner’s spiritual teacher.

Enabling the dysfunctional relationship by feeding the partner’s shadows

the codependent is an enabler

As we have learned previously, the codependent is an enabler that does not make his narcissistic partner accountable in any way. As a result, the partners’ mental health continue to decline and his narcissistic and paranoid tendencies get worse overtime. While this is true that the narcissists’ natural tendency would be to be comforted in their drama, and have little interest for personal accountability, the codependent enabling tendencies make it much worse. There is a famous quote from Edmund Burke “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing”. The codependents are these “good men” that do nothing. Codependents and narcissists feed each other false selves as they grow more unhealthy dependency with each other. To survive the dysfunctional environment, the codependent has learned not to challenge the narcissist and on the opposite to play with their shadows to ensure his safety. In return, the narcissist gets addicted to the false validation he gets from the codependent. They both isolate from the rest of the world so that they may not be challenged in their vision of reality. As the borderline/narcissists get more controlled by their addictions, shadows and inflated sense of self, the more they may be controlled by the codependent. Edmund Burke said also “Flattery corrupts both the receiver and the giver”. Why it is one thing to boost our loved ones’ self confidence, it is another thing to feed their inflated sense of self. By using flattery on his narcissistic partner, the codependent understands he can kill two birds at once. He gains his favor while isolating him from potential rivals. I remember a situation where a follower was shamed for hours by a spiritual teacher and his codependent manager for recommending a change of schedule where another teacher would come on the last day of the program. The codependent manager of the spiritual teacher insisted he was the best of the world so that he had to conclude the program. The spiritual teacher fell for it and went on a rant for hours how this so-called fan could even dare to propose this change of schedule. He was very insecure and insisted for anyone around him to always say he was the best in the world. If anyone would see the value in another spiritual teacher, they would have to face the borderline rage of the teacher that was fueled by the codependent manager. Over time, he developed paranoia for anyone who could potentially compete with him so he got rid of his best disciples, which also comforted the codependent manager who felt insecure with anyone who could have direct access to the teacher. A “royal court” was formed around the teacher that isolated him from reality, and consequently his mental health declined at a rapid pace as his narcissism turned into megalomania.

self adoration

Denial is prevalent for both the borderline/narcissists and their codependent partners. By staying as victims, they avoid facing their own shame. They both play an elaborate dance to construct a reality that boost each other ego but isolate them from the rest of the world. While the codependent gets rewarded by praise, appreciation, a sense of control, attention and often financial security from their dominant partner, the narcissist gets a sense of security and personal power as their self-concept stays unchallenged. As the pattern amplifies, the chance for this duo to build or maintain any authentic relationship become smaller and smaller. The narcissistic partner thinks he is the one in control however the more their ego get inflated, the more controllable they become by their co-dependent partner that lead the way from behind the scenes. The codependent feeds on the partner’s mental health issues. They may get drown and overwhelmed at times by their partner narcissistic episodes but they know it is just a matter of time for them to regain control as their partners’ steam run out. The narcissist cannot have friends. He can only have employees, followers or fans, basically transactional relationships.

The codependent pattern will encourage the negative behavior “I am serving your father a glass of Whiskey because he needs to relax after a long day” while a more healthy partner will set a clear boundary “If you continue drinking I will have no other choice to leave though I love you very much”. A friend of mine contacted me recently. She broke up with a boyfriend she loved very much because he started being abusive with her. It broke her heart to do it but she knew this was the only way to wake him up. This is the difference between codependent and healthy relationships. The codependent will feed your shadows to be in control and create more unhealthy dependency. Healthy partners will not hesitate to confront you on your shadows even at their detriment. An intimate relationship is the closest mirror we can have. Do you choose to mirror your partner light or darkness? And remember by doing this, you are doing else then mirroring your own light and darkness. By committing to support your partners to become the best version of themselves, you are doing the same to yourself. Codependents choose to do the opposite because of their own insecurity.

The codependents cannot meet their needs directly so they manipulate

manipulation

This came from childhood trauma. The codependent was simply an accessory to their primary caregivers narcissistic needs. They never received the mirroring they needed to discover their authentic selves. Not only are they unable to meet their needs directly but they are simply completely unaware of their needs. They are actually terrified to figure out what their needs are as this would mean they could be rejected or ridiculed for wanting what they need. It feels so much safer to say their needs do not matter or focus instead on the needs of others. They place a lower priority on their own needs, while being excessively preoccupied with other people needs. For this reason, many codependents learn to be self‐sufficient and to deny their emotional needs, and this is not sustainable.  They match perfectly their narcissistic partners that are self-focused on their own needs. If your important emotional needs were shamed or ignored in your childhood, would you not grow up shutting down the feelings associated with those needs? Why would you feel a need if you do not expect it to be filled? It is less painful to deny it entirely. However, no one can un-need what they need so they live in state of emotional starvation and develop manipulation strategies to meet their needs indirectly.

Manipulation through communication triangulation, being double faced, alienation and” Divide and Conquer” strategies

Codependency is more about why and how you do things than what you do. Their actions are often driven by not getting in trouble with their partners instead of doing what feels right according to their authentic self (that they do not know). They rarely perform any action from their heart instead they expect something in return. They have a transactional mind. Codependent parents would often remind children of all the sacrifice they endured to raise them to adulthood. If they want to be touched by their partners, they would offer to give them a massage instead of asking directly for their needs. The massage would not feel good because of the feeling of expectation. And if the partner does not reciprocate, they are then punished emotionally through withdrawal. If they want a night girl out, they would ask their male counterpart if they would be interested to spend a weekend away with his friends. If they would like to bring their parents over, they would encourage their partners to have their parents visit. Once their partners express their own needs, then they feel they are allowed to express their own needs. It is an exhausting way to live life and they are continuously set-up for disappointment. A relationship is not about keeping counts but it is about meeting each other needs in a mutually beneficial way. When someone does not express their needs directly, the probability for someone else to meet these needs go drastically down. Because of their deep shame, they spend a lot of energy justifying why they need what they need. They react often in a passive aggressive way when they unexpressed needs are unmet. I knew a woman that was in love with another woman but she could not face the truth that she was a lesbian. She made herself her caregiver. Once she felt she had leverage by becoming more indispensable, she would threaten she may leave to find the love of her life (often described as a male). This would make the other woman panic however it was obvious that she did not intend to go anywhere. She eventually succeeded in splitting her with her husband by becoming what she felt the other woman really wanted and by showing her the incompatibilities she perceived with the husband the other woman loved. These types of relationship are doomed and I can speak from experience. I have too attracted lovers and partners by pretending to be what they wanted to see. However we can only hide for so long. Once the real us come out, our partners feel duped and they make our lives impossible. A common ploy for codependents interested in a woman that is a single mum is to build rapport with her children. They understand the intense guilt the targeted partner is experiencing from not providing a full-time and caring father to her children. Overtime, however, the single mum often realizes that the new partner never truly cared or had true ownership with their children. And if the man leaves the relationship, there is no interest in maintaining the relationship with the children.

The codependent cannot be trusted because he is double faced. He shows a different face for every different person he is interacting with. He is a people pleaser and adapts his messaging accordingly. I am also guilty to have played the same codependent game with my company executives in the past. A vice president would come to my office complaining about the behavior of another executive that they would consider bossy, disrespectful and unprofessional. I would empathize with her and would confirm the flaws she had noticed in him. Then the other executive would stop by my office complaining about the immaturity and lack of experience about the first one. I would validate the same way, happy to get rapport through opposition. I felt good and important as the rescuer. However I was undermining my management team spirit and cohesion. Then I was acting surprised why these grown-up executive cannot get along and keep fighting! Overtime, they lost trust with me as they could feel my lack of authenticity.

During one of my divorces, I trusted an individual to act as an intermediary of my wife to act on her behalf, as she was too emotional to take care of legal details of the split. He was very nice and amicable with me while I realized only months later, he was disparaging me behind my back as friends made me listen to voice mails he was leaving about me. Instead of making things better with my ex wife, he kept putting oil on the fire to antagonize each other behind our backs. Both she and I felt very thankful to him at the time to act as a mediator as the other party seemed crazy and ill intentioned not realizing he was largely responsible for the increased strife between us through triangulation. The intermediary ended up getting married to my former spouse!

The codependent learned at an early age to manipulate their caregivers to survive emotionally in a dysfunctional environment. They are excellent at identifying the blind spots to the people around them for their benefit. The can place shame on others to manipulate a situation and then use charm to come off caring as their typical fashion to get what they want from others. They are experts in alienation and playing on people fears. They identify a weakness in a rival and makes a crack looks like a canyon while they state how different they are. Sometimes they just make things up and hope they will get away with it. A friend of mine did not know anything about finances so her business manager puts doubts in her mind that her husband was embezzling money to create a rift in their relationship as the manager was in love with her. He also showed her how her husband was a liability to her career while at the very same time he kept complementing the husband on his contribution to her business. The wife fell for it and divorced the husband while she was away from the husband on a business trip while the manager took on the savior role. The manger continued to ensure there would be no contact between them so that she would never figure out the manipulation that had taken place. “Divide and conquer” is the favorite power dynamic of the codependent.

I knew a lady that lived with her best friend and his girlfriend. Both girls used to get along very well. He was very codependent and made his girlfriend feel he cannot fully present to her because of the commitment he has towards his best friend that was also his employer. He made his friend/employer insecure that telling her that he cannot be really there for her because of his relationship to his girlfriend, which he claimed was the most important thing in his life. As a result, the two ladies that really adored each other started feeling threatened with one another.

Addiction

addiction

When we did not receive enough nurturing or had your feelings respected, we may attempt to fill this void with an addiction. Addictive relationships or substances serve as a substitute for real connection. Some people are caretakers who hope to receive love in return but are unable to be vulnerable about their own feelings, which is necessary to maintain an intimate relationship.

Many who don’t recognize their needs for support and comfort isolate — especially when they’re hurting. Even with awareness of their needs, asking someone to meet them can feel humiliating.

As a result, many people turn to some addiction. Many of my clients had a codependent father or mother that was alcoholic. I had an uncle that was a gambler to compensate for the lack of intimacy in his marriage. I became a workaholic and the high intensity of running a Silicon Valley business was my own way of compensating. Some men escape in following sports on TV while many women do the same with their soap operas. The options of escape are endless to avoid feeling the lack of intimacy and connection that we are experiencing.

The goal of the addiction is to prevent us from experiencing painful feelings, often originating from childhood traumas. It is critical we allow ourselves to sit with these painful emotions and do shadow work when they come up instead of falling for an addiction to escape. As we experience consciously these difficult feelings, we will start healing and eventually generate the desires to make the necessary changes in our life to create a life that genuinely feels good.

Replaying trauma from childhood

cries below the surface

Codependency is often associated with abusive, addictive, or controlling home environments. Or it may be the product of emotional neglect and absence. Any painful experience from childhood has the potential to become a trauma that can affect our present actions. Fortunately, there are many modalities today that can support soul retrieval so that you do not need to manifest into your life the original trauma. I knew a woman who suffered incest from her brutal father all of her childhood. As a child and teenager, she kept fantasizing that mum would leave dad to save her. Unfortunately, mum was very codependent and an enabler to the abuse so the rapes continued into adulthood. She brought that intense desire into her adult self and she became a close confidante to a married woman. The wife had suffered a lot of abuse too in her childhood in the hands of a psychopath. They both replayed their drama and made the husband the bad guy they had to escape from. The husband was ostracized overnight and completely cut from his family. Even months after the separation had taken place, they were still making lists to demonize the poor fellow. The husband was abandoned by his mum when he was a child so this is why he was a match to this experience as well. There are no bad people only people who have been traumatized. If their childhood traumas are not healed, people will have a tendency to replay them in their adult lives. If they are unable to heal, their traums will unfortunately repeat into the next generation, the lives of their children. This is why soul retrieval and trauma healing are the most important thing we will ever do.

Unhealthy dependency instead of autonomy

mathematics of codependency

Human beings are a social species so we need each other to live a good life. There are healthy dependencies and unhealthy ones too. The codependent has the later form of dependency. Their fear of loneliness would keep them in abusive and dysfunctional relationships instead of looking for better options for partners. In a codependent relationship, the codependent’s sense of purpose is based on making extreme sacrifices to satisfy their partner’s needs. Codependent relationships signify a degree of unhealthy “clinginess”, where one person does not have self-sufficiency or autonomy. One or both parties depend on their loved one for fulfillment. In romantic relationships that do not involve children, we need to remember that the individual in the relationship is more important than the relationship. There should be no coercion in such relationships. The codependents need to be committed to put themselves first and accept that it is better to be alone than being with people that are not ready to accept and love their authentic selves. Of course, they first need to figure out what this authentic self is all about. Once they make this step, they will be on their way to create a life that feels good. Thich Naht Hanh said “You must love in a way that the person you love feels free”. To become autonomous is to able to share a life with a loved one without trying to possess or control him/her. We do not need to possess him/her because they live within us. It is not anymore a relationship where two become one, but two become three: the two partners and the relationship. They create a conscious relationship instead of being consumed by it.

How bad can codependency get?

The Selena story

Selena Quintanilla and yolanda salvidar

Selena Quintanilla-Perez was an American singer that achieved international fame. Her story was immortalized in the Selena movie starring Jennifer Lopez. As Selena’s singing schedule became more demanding, she came to rely on Yolanda Saldivar, a San Antonio nurse who had founded her fan club in 1991 and was a devoted follower of the band. The family did not realize how much of a sycophant she was. Shy, plain-looking, and eleven years Selena’s senior, Saldivar made herself indispensable, taking on the job of managing the boutiques and eventually becoming Selena’s confidante. Selena had a caring but narcissistic father that was ruling the whole family. As a result, Selena desperately needed a confidante outside her family circle. That’s when Yolanda stepped into her life and made it seem like she was taking care of everything. Yolanda appeared to everyone like someone sweet, like a mother figure. She used to mother people around her and ask, “Do you need anything, m’ijo/a?”. Yolanda managed to gain a lot of importance in Selena’s life. Whether Selena realized it or not, Yolanda became her filter and gatekeeper. Selena had lots of friends working for her at the beginning of her career. Once Yolanda came on board, she got rid of Selena’s friends one by one. Anyone who captured Selena’s attention, she eliminated. After the family found out that Yolanda was taking advantage of her position to steal money, she felt her life was over and shot Selena to death as her life felt meaningless without Selena. By killing her, Yolanda assured that her name would be associated with Selena for eternity.

Wild Wild Country: Osho and Sheela

osho and sheela

A recent documentary Wild Wild Country narrates the rise and fall of Osho Rajneesh, a gifted and controversial spiritual leader that set-up a community in the US state of Oregon. Osho’s passion was teaching spirituality and waking up his followers through various healing modalities. He trusted a young and a very ambitious early disciple of his: Ma Anand Sheela to deal with all the material and organizational aspects in creating the community. Osho liked reclusion and long periods of time for meditation and contemplation so he let naively Sheela take more and more power. For a very long time, she was the only one meeting with Osho and through communication triangulation, she was able to dictate all important decisions in the community. People started to fear her. Power went to her head, as she obviously did not have the experience, integrity and wisdom to handle this level of responsibility and decision-making. She created her own group of devotees and instructed some of them to perform unethical actions. For example, he convinced one of her close follower to kill a doctor that she felt was getting too close to Osho. Unbeknownst to Osho, she built a multi million dollar center to spy on all community members. She armed the community, brought thousands of homeless people from all over the country to win county elections and poisoned the water of the nearby town. During this time, Osho was doing a 3 years’ silent. The whole state of Oregon that had been antagonized by Sheela’s actions was on high alert to bring the community down. Sheela was finally arrested but US officials felt it was safer to bring Osho down too. He was arrested too, and suffered such bad treatment in custody that he died a few months later.

ties codependent relationship

These are some of the most extreme forms of codependency and everyone can see how dangerous it can be. Idolatry can flatter the ego but everything is a transaction for the codependent. It is just a matter of time that they will come for their due once the dependency is complete. Every relationship is a mirror and one cannot be controlling in a relationship without being controlled oneself. We eventually receive what we give in a relationship. How do you recognize a dysfunctional relationship from a healthy one? The dysfunctional one puts you down while the healthy one will make you a better human being.

Read part II – Understanding and loving the borderline

Read part III – Growing and healing together as a couple

Love and Compatibility

Access the French version (video en Français ci-dessous)

Please subscribe to Coach Vaillant newsletter for new exclusive content

love compatibility

Years ago, I went to an Esalen couples workshop and the facilitator shared some wisdom that marked my memory. He said that intimate relationships need three key ingredients to become a lifetime commitment. First, the partners need to love each other. If the attraction is not there, they will never be able to commit and overcome all the obstacles they will inevitably face. Secondly, they need to be compatible as otherwise their differences (cultural, diet, interests, values, social class, etc…) will eventually erode the love they have for each other and turn any passionate romance into a nightmare. Thirdly, they need relationship tools and continuing relationship education to keep increasing their awareness and communication. The third point was an astute and clever way to promote their workshop 😉 I loved that recipe when I heard it. It made complete sense and it felt achievable at the time. I do not feel as hopeful today because I have observed that compatibility and love rarely go together. The person we are crazy about will always push our worst buttons. They will often stretch us to the point of collapse as they are meant to help us re-experience our deepest childhood traumas according the Imago theory. On the other hand, I have witnessed in my life and my friends’ life that we rarely experience chemistry with the people that we get along so well with. They make great friends and companions but poor lovers. We are facing a dilemma. If love & compatibility do not go together, which one is the most important to ensure a happy and fulfilling relationship? Should we favor companionship over passion?

Indian arranged marriage

An arranged marriage is a marital union where the families (parents, guardians, even extended families) of the bride and groom decide on the match based on a number of rational compatibility criteria rather than the couple choosing their own partner. In India, historically, most marriages have been arranged marriages. Divorce rates in India overall are pegged at about 1.2 percent vis-à-vis a divorce rate of about 53 percent in the US, a country where love marriages are the norm. Even in India, rates of divorce in love marriages are much higher than in arranged marriages. Actually, as many as 90% of all Indian marriages are arranged and 74% of young Indians (18-35 years old) prefer an arranged marriage to a free-choice one. So if we were to evaluate relationship success by their durability, marriages that were formed through compatibility instead of love were 44 times more successful!

the 6 types of love according to the greeks

The Greeks had six different words for love. They also valued Pragma (longstanding love) over Eros (sexual love). They did not think too of Eros as something positive. On the opposite, they viewed it as dangerous, fiery, irrational and as an addiction that will surely bring you to your demise. On the opposite, they praised Pragma, which was about making compromises to help the relationship work over time, and showing patience and tolerance even in the absence of love and passion.

Pierre Corneille

Classical French literature shares the same sentiment. Jean Racine, 17th century French dramatist, starts many of his plays with an all-consuming love story that is plagued with external obstacles: refusal from the beloved, family opposing the union, state matters, conflicting feelings such as guilt, leading eventually to tragedy. The other great 17th century French playwright, actor and poet Molière describes passion as a possession state that endangers our discerning and discriminating abilities. Reason should be preferred over passion at all times. Corneille, the other great French tragedian of that time, goes even further. In his plays, duty always wins over passion despite the initial internal conflicts. The hero is a master of himself and stays lucid in any situation.

CS Lewis

More recently, in the 20th century, the famous British novelist and poet C.S. Lewis is quite explicit in his book called The Four Loves. Lewis praises too arranged marriages over love unions. “I am not at all subscribing to the popular idea that it is the absence or presence of Eros which makes the sexual act “impure” or “pure”… If all who lay together without being in the state of Eros were abominable, we all come of tainted stock… Most of our ancestors were married off in early youth to partners chosen by their parents on grounds that had nothing to do with Eros. They went to the act with no other “fuel,” so to speak, than animal desire. And they did right; honest Christian husbands and wives, obeying their fathers and mothers, discharging to one another their “marriage debt,” and bringing up families in the fear of the Lord.” Lewis warns us against worshiping a false god in Eros “Of all loves [Eros] is, at his height, most god-like; therefore most prone to demand our worship. Of himself he always tends to turn “being in love” into a sort of religion. Theologians have often feared in this love, a danger of idolatry. I think they meant by this that the lovers might idolize one another… The real danger seems to me not that the lovers will idolize each other but that they will idolize Eros himself.” To Lewis, romantic love is simply doomed and short-lived “And all the time the grim joke is that this Eros whose voice seems to speak from the eternal realm is not himself necessarily even permanent. He is notoriously the most mortal of our loves… What is baffling is the combination of this fickleness with his protestations of permanency.”

Christian Grey Teasing Anastasia Steele

Let’s now leave these respectable historical minds and dive into the best seller (just after Harry Potter) of the 21st century “50 shades of Grey” from E.L. James that sold 125 million copies and was translated in 52 languages. I actually only got to see the movie trilogy for the first time with a friend this week. I had low expectations and actually the story plot was well thought out, at least much more than what critics expressed. I believe in the wisdom of popular success over expert opinions. Christian Gray and Anastasia Steele are clearly incompatible. He is a sadistic sociopath magnate that can only get turned on by dominating and objectifying women. She is an openhearted, sensitive and romantic virgin who wants an equal relationship with her man. Mrs Robinson, Christian’s first S&M mentor, is well aware of this incompatibility and attempts to warn the lovers about the futility of their union. Despite all odds, Christian gets actually transformed and healed through their love as he connects more and more to his heart. Anastasia gains a lot of self-confidence and personal empowerment through the relationship. The story shows the cathartic power of love. If Christian and Anastasia had been rational, saw clearly their incompatibilities and believed in them, they would have given up on each other. They chose love over reason and received the ultimate gift. Of course, this is an American novel with a happy end. The lovers get it all: passion and eternal love. Aspects of the story feel far from real life experience. The lovers handle their conflict with too much ease but we embrace this story novocain in our desperate need to believe that true love is possible and can last forever.

Phoenix raising from its ashes

It is true that most love stories driven by Eros rarely experience the same joyful fate. The statistics do not lie and love unions are marked by instability and are often short-lived. They are however more transformational and life changing than any other relationships. As I mentioned recently, I fell in love 6 times but none of these relationships have endured the test of time. Despite the pain of break-up, the heartaches, the conflicts and all of the challenges, they all have come with incredible gifts, accelerated my growth and transformed me more than any other experience in my life. Carole led me to the beginning of my spiritual journey when I was 19. I emigrated to the USA because of Laurence when I was 22. I left the cult I was a part of at 23 thanks to Janna. Danielle helped me heal the biggest trauma of my life (mum’s abandonment) and opened my spirituality to a new level. Alina catalyzed my success in the 3D world and gave me two beautiful children. Finally, Teal brought me to my authentic self, among many other gifts. Every one of these women has crushed me and it felt every single time that I would never recover. However, like a phoenix that obtains a new life by arising from the ashes of its predecessor, I have been transformed and improved every single time. They have relentlessly killed the old and the false in me so that I could wake up to my true potential more than any books, workshops, spiritual teachers or organizations could have ever done. I just wish sometimes the process would be more gentle!

Chemistry between two lovers

So I am going to go against accepted norms here. I am claiming that the center that governs our sexual attractions has actually the fastest and most sophisticated brain of all. In a fraction of a second, it can see the life-changing potential of associating with a partner. It is closely associated with our soul purpose. And soul does not care about pain, permanence or fairness. It only cares about evolution, awareness, inner growth and opening your heart. An intense chemistry is always reflecting a quality that the infatuated person needs to develop. In most cases, they need to open their mind and their heart to what they need instead of what they want. If Christian Grey had stayed stubborn that he needed a person that would accept all clauses of his S&M contract then he would have stayed miserably unhappy in isolation, and continued to destroy many other women in the process. Chemistry denotes a yearning of the soul for an important missing quality in the personality. The problem occurs when the gap between the soul and the personality desires is too wide to be bridged because of unresolved traumas. In this situation, break-ups are incredibly painful. We think we keep attracting the wrong type of partners but in fact we keep sending the wrong type of signals because we are not healed. Let me give you some examples extracted from clients’, friends and personal experience about the transforming power of love relationships.

  • A shrewd businessman is attracted a very sensitive woman but his lack of attunement keeps hurting the feeling of his beloved. If he is conscious that his behavior is triggering his loved one then this relationship has the potential to restore his sensitivity that was lost in the harsh and cold corporate environment.
  • An insecure and needy woman is attracted to an independent and self-confident. man. If he shows sensitivity to her feelings and that she becomes aware that her possessiveness and control dramas are coming from her fears then this relationship has the potential to support her self-confidence, healing and autonomy.
  • A materialistic and down-to-earth woman and a spiritual and introspective man fall in love. If there is enough love between them two, the woman will become more open-minded and introspective and the man will become more grounded in his spirituality.
  • A strong willed and emotional woman and a quiet, introvert and mental mind fall in love. This is an opportunity for her to use her mind to better channel her emotional state and for him to get in touch with his repressed feelings and become more sensitive.
  • An over controlling man fells in love with a fiercely independent woman. Through that relationship, he will learn to loosen his grip on control, jealousy and possessiveness. He will learn to become more spontaneous.
  • A super ambitious, successful and boasting man fells in love with a down-to earth, humble and self-sufficient woman that is able to challenge him when he is off. This relationship will be critical for his ego not to get out of control and take the better part of himself. This way, he will stay connected to people and not objectify them.

Incompatibility with love has tremendous healing power and can support us to become the best version of ourselves. It works best when the partners are aware of their weaknesses and sees how the relationship is supporting their growth.

Vaillant in Utah Canyonlands National Park

Am I being the devil’s advocate to praise Eros over Pragma? In the center of my being, I can only hear these words resonate “Fuck Compatibility and Choose Love over Reason”. It may not be for everyone but this is my truth. The poet Khalil Gibran used to say “Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.”. Too much suffering can also drive a man to the psychiatric hospital. It is up to each one of us to decide how much adversity we can take and transform so that we can live our lives accordingly.

Read Love & Compatibility – Part II

French translation below – Article en Français ci-dessous

Voir la vidéo

Il y a des années, j’ai assisté à une conférence sur l’amour dans le couple à Esalen en California et le présentateur a partagé une sagesse qui a marqué ma mémoire. Il a dit qu’un couple a besoin de trois ingrédients clés pour vivre le bonheur à deux sur le long-terme. Premièrement, les partenaires doivent s’aimer. Si l’attraction n’est pas là, ils ne pourront jamais s’engager et surmonter tous les obstacles auxquels ils seront inévitablement confrontés. Deuxièmement, ils doivent être compatibles, faute de quoi leurs différences (qu’elles viennent de leur culture, leur régime alimentaire, leurs intérêts, leurs valeurs ou leur classe sociale, etc…) finiront par éroder l’amour qu’ils ont l’un pour l’autre et transformeront leur passion en cauchemar. Troisièmement, ils ont besoin d’outils relationnels et d’une formation continue sur la communication de couple et l’intimité. Bien sûr, le troisième point était un moyen astucieux et intelligent de promouvoir leur conférence 😉 mais j’ai beaucoup apprécié cette recette quand je l’ai entendue. Cela avait du sens et semblait réalisable à l’époque. Je ne me sens pas aussi optimiste aujourd’hui car j’ai constaté que compatibilité et amour vont rarement de pair. Il semble que la personne dont nous sommes fous amoureux a toujours cette capacité à nous faire sortir de nos gonds. Ils vont être ceux qui vous nous pousser à bout car ne sont-ils pas censés nous aider à revivre nos traumatismes de l’enfance les plus profonds d’après la théorie bien connue d’Imago. D’autre part, j’ai remarqué dans ma vie et celle de mes amis que nous sommes rarement attirés par des personnes avec lesquelles nous nous entendons si bien. Ils font de bons amis et compagnons, mais de pauvres amants. Nous sommes donc confrontés à un dilemme. Si l’amour et la compatibilité ne vont pas ensemble, que devons nous faire pour vivre une relation heureuse et épanouissante? Devrions-nous privilégier l’amitié plutôt que la passion?

Un mariage arrangé est une union matrimoniale où les familles des futurs mariés décident du mariage en fonction d’un certain nombre de critères de compatibilité rationnels mais aussi astrologiques plutôt que de les laisser choisir leur propre partenaire. En Inde, historiquement, la plupart des mariages ont été arrangés. Les taux de divorce en Inde est à environ 1,2%, contre un taux de divorce d’environ 53% aux États-Unis, un pays où les mariages d’amour sont la norme. Même en Inde, les taux de divorce dans les mariages d’amour sont beaucoup plus élevés que dans les mariages arrangés. En fait, pas moins de 90% des mariages indiens sont arrangés et 74% des jeunes Indiens (âgés de 18 à 35 ans) préfèrent un mariage arrangé à un mariage à choix libre. Donc, si nous jugeons de la réussite d’un mariage par leur durabilité, les mariages formés par compatibilité plutôt que par amour auraient donc une probabilité de succès 44 fois plus élevée!

Les Grecs avaient six mots différents pour parler d’amour. Ils préféraient Pragma (l’amour inscrit sur la durée et la compatibilité) sur Eros (la passion et l’amour sexuel). Ils ne voyaient pas Eros de manière trop positive. Au contraire, ils considéraient la passion comme dangereuse, ardente, irrationnelle et comme une dépendance qui vous mènera sûrement à votre perte. Au contraire, ils faisaient l’éloge de Pragma, qui visait à faire des compromis pour que la relation dure dans le temps et encourageait le couple à faire preuve de patience et de tolérance même en l’absence d’amour et de passion.

La littérature française classique partage le même sentiment. Jean Racine, dramaturge français du XVIIe siècle, commence nombre de ses pièces avec une histoire d’amour qui consume tout et semée d’embûches extérieures: refus de la famille bien-aimée, famille opposée à l’union, conflits entre États, sentiments opposés tels que la culpabilité conduisant à la tragédie . L’autre grand dramaturge, acteur et poète français du XVIIe siècle, Molière, décrit la passion comme un état de possession mettant en danger nos capacités de discernement et d’entendement. La raison devrait être préférée à la passion en tout temps. Corneille, l’autre grand tragédien français de cette époque, va encore plus loin. Dans ses pièces, le devoir l’emporte toujours sur la passion malgré les premiers conflits internes. Le héros est maître de lui-même et reste lucide dans toutes les situations.

Plus récemment, au 20ème siècle, le célèbre romancier et poète britannique C.S. Lewis est assez explicite dans son livre intitulé The Four Loves (les 4 amours). Lewis loue aussi les mariages arrangés «Je ne souscris pas du tout à l’idée populaire selon laquelle c’est l’absence ou la présence d’Eros qui rend l’acte sexuel « impur » ou « pur »… Si tous ceux qui dormaient ensemble sans être à l’état d’Eros étaient abominables, nous tous viendrions de souche souillée… La plupart de nos ancêtres ont été mariés dans leur jeunesse à des partenaires choisis par leurs parents pour des motifs qui n’avaient rien à voir avec Eros. Ils sont allés à l’acte sans autre “carburant”, pour ainsi dire, que le désir animal. Et ils ont bien fait; Des maris et des femmes chrétiens honnêtes, obéissant à leurs pères et à leurs mères, s’acquittant l’un envers l’autre de leur «dette de mariage» et élevant des familles dans la crainte du Seigneur. »Lewis nous met en garde contre l’adoration d’un faux dieu en Eros« De tous les amours [Eros ] est, à sa hauteur, très semblable à Dieu; donc les plus enclins à demander notre culte. De lui-même, il a toujours tendance à transformer «l’amour» en une sorte de religion. Les théologiens ont souvent craint dans cet amour un danger d’idolâtrie. Je pense qu’ils voulaient dire par là que les amants pourraient s’idoliser les uns les autres… Le vrai danger ne me semble pas que les amants s’idolâtrent mais qu’ils idolâtrent Eros lui-même. ” Pour Lewis, l’amour romantique est tout simplement condamné et de courte durée”. Et l’ironie est que cet Eros dont la voix semble parler du royaume éternel n’est pas nécessairement lui-même permanent. Il est notoirement le plus mortel de nos amours… Ce qui est déconcertant, c’est la combinaison de cette inconstance avec ses protestations de permanence. ”

Laissons maintenant ces écrivains célèbres et plongeons dans le best-seller du XXIe siècle, «50 nuances de Grey» de E.L. James qui a vendu 125 millions d’exemplaires et a été traduit en 52 langues. Je suis un peu en retard et j’ai vu la trilogie la première fois avec un ami la semaine dernière. J’avais peu d’attentes sur le scénario mais j’ai trouvé l’intrigue bien pensée, du moins beaucoup mieux que ce que les critiques ont exprimé. Un succès populaire de cet envergure ne vient pas par hasard. Dans cet ouvrage, Christian Gray et Anastasia Steele sont clairement incompatibles. C’est un magnat sociopathe sadique qui ne peut être excité que par la domination et l’objectivation des femmes. C’est une vierge au cœur ouvert, sensible et romantique qui veut une relation égale avec son homme. Mme Robinson, qui a éduqué Christian au sadomasochisme, est bien consciente de cette incompatibilité et tente de mettre en garde les amoureux de la futilité de leur union. Malgré toutes les obstacles, Christian devient un bien meilleur homme poussé par son amour pour Anastasia alors qu’il devient de plus en plus sensible et humain. Anastasia gagne beaucoup en confiance en elle et de l’autonomie grâce à cette relation aussi. L’histoire montre le pouvoir cathartique de l’amour. Si Christian et Anastasia avaient été rationnels, ils auraient vu clairement leurs incompatibilités et se seraient quittés. Ils ont choisi l’amour plutôt que la raison et ont reçu le cadeau ultime. Bien sûr, ceci est un roman américain avec une fin heureuse où les amants tirent le gros lot avec la passion et l’amour éternel. L’histoire semble irréaliste et les amants gèrent leur conflit avec trop de facilité, mais nous adorons cette histoire car elle réveille en nous le besoin désespéré de croire que le grand amour est possible et peut durer éternellement.

Il est vrai que la plupart des histoires d’amour guidées par Eros connaissent rarement un destin joyeux. Les statistiques ne mentent pas et les unions d’amour sont marquées par l’instabilité et sont souvent de courte durée. Ils sont cependant plus transformateurs et formateurs que toute autre relation. Je suis moi-même tombé amoureux 6 fois mais aucune de ces relations n’a résisté à l’épreuve du temps. Malgré la douleur de ces ruptures, des chagrins d’amour, des conflits et tous les épreuves, ces relations m’ont beaucoup apportées, elles ont accéléré mon développement personnel et elles m’ont transformée plus que toute autre expérience de ma vie. Carole a catalysé ma quête spirituel quand j’avais 19 ans. J’ai ensuite émigré aux États-Unis à cause de Laurence quand j’avais 22 ans. J’ai quitté la secte dont je faisais partie à 23 ans grâce à Janna. Danielle m’a aidé à guérir le plus grand traumatisme de ma vie (l’abandon de ma mère) et a ouvert ma spiritualité à un autre niveau. Alina m’a aidé dans mon succès professionnel et matériel et m’a donné deux beaux enfants. Enfin, Teal m’a amené à mon moi authentique, parmi beaucoup d’autres cadeaux. Chacune de ces femmes a cependant failli me détruire et j’ai senti à chaque fois que je ne m’en remettrai jamais. Cependant, comme un phénix qui obtient une nouvelle vie en renaissant des cendres de son prédécesseur, j’ai été transformé en mieux à chaque fois. Elles ont implacablement tué le vieux et le faux en moi afin que je puisse me rendre compte de mon véritable potentiel plus que tout autre livre, conférence, enseignant spirituel ou organisation n’auraient pu le faire. J’aurai juste souhaité juste que le processus fut un peu plus doux.

Par conséquent, je vais m’opposer ici aux idées reçues de nos culture. Je dis haut et fort que le centre qui régit nos attractions sexuelles possède un cerveau le plus rapide et le plus sophistiqué qui soit. En une fraction de seconde, il peut voir le potentiel transformateur de l’union avec un partenaire particulier. Ce centre sexual travaille donc étroitement avec notre âme. Et l’âme ne se soucie pas de la douleur, de la permanence ou de la justice. Elle ne s’intéresse qu’à l’évolution, à la prise de conscience, à la croissance intérieure et à l’ouverture de notre cœur. Une attraction intense est toujours le signe que la personne amoureuse a besoin de développer en elle les qualités de l’autre qui sont en fait latents en elle. Dans la relation passionnel, nous devons ouvrir notre cœur à ce qui nous rend meilleur plutôt que de rester figer dans nos désirs étroits. Si Christian Gray était resté obstiné à l’idée qu’il avait besoin d’une personne qui accepterait toutes les clauses de son contrat sadomasochiste, il serait resté misérablement malheureux en isolation et aurait continué à détruire beaucoup d’autres femmes. L’attraction physique dénote donc un désir de l’âme pour une élévation de la personnalité. Le problème se pose lorsque le fossé entre l’âme et les désirs de la personnalité est trop grand pour être comblé à cause de traumatismes non résolus. Dans cette situation, les ruptures sont incroyablement douloureuses. Nous ne comprenons pas pourquoi nous continuons à attirer vers nous de drôles de partenaires, mais en fait, nous continuons à envoyer le mauvais type de signal parce que nous ne sommes pas guéris émotionnellement des blessures de l’enfance. Permettez-moi de vous donner quelques exemples tirés des expériences de clients, d’amis et de moi-même concernant le pouvoir transformateur des relations amoureuses. Un homme d’affaires un peu rustre attire une femme très sensible, mais son manque d’attention et de ressenti chagrine sa bien-aimée. S’il devient conscient que son comportement blesse sa femme, cela peut lui donner le désir de redevenir sensible, et de sortir de son univers industriel rude et froid. Une autre femme instable et dans le besoin est attirée par un homme indépendant et confiant. S’il est sensible à son égard et qu’elle prend conscience que ses peurs la rend possessive et paranoiaque, cette relation est susceptible de l’aider à reprendre confiance en elle, et grandir en autonomie. Une femme matérialiste terre-à-terre et un homme spirituel introspectif tombent amoureux. S’il y a assez d’amour entre les deux, la femme deviendra plus ouverte d’esprit et introspective, et l’homme deviendra plus ancré dans sa vie pratique. Une femme forte et volontaire tombe amoureux d’un homme calme, introverti et mental. C’est l’opportunité pour elle de canaliser ses état émotionnel et pour lui de se reconnecter avec ses sentiments réprimés et de redevenir sensible. Un homme trop contrôlant craque pour une femme farouchement indépendante. Grâce à cette relation, il apprendra à relâcher son contrôle, sa jalousie et son amour possession. Il apprendra à devenir plus spontané. Un homme très ambitieux, courageux et prétentieux est amoureux d’une femme terre-à-terre, humble et autonome qui est capable de le remettre en place quand il se croit sorti de la cuisse de Jupiter. Cette relation sera cruciale pour qu’il ne devienne pas un leader mégalomaniaque. De cette façon, il restera connecté aux gens et ne les traitera pas comme des objets. L’incompatibilité dans l’amour a donc un pouvoir de guérison extraordinaire et peut nous aider à devenir la meilleure version de nous-mêmes. Cela fonctionne mieux lorsque les partenaires sont conscients de leurs faiblesses et voient comment la relation soutient leur développement personnel.

Suis-je l’avocat du diable pour louer Eros sur Pragma? Oui, je clame haut et fort: «Jetez la compatibilité à la poubelle et choisissez l’amour plutôt que la raison». Ce n’est peut-être pas pour tout le monde mais c’est ma vérité. Le poète Khalil Gibran disait: “Les âmes les plus fortes ont émergé de la souffrance; les personnages les plus massifs sont brûlés de cicatrices.”. Bien sûr, trop de souffrances peuvent aussi nous conduire à l’hôpital psychiatrique. C’est donc à chacun d’entre nous de décider du degré d’adversité auquel nous pouvons faire face et ensuite de transformer ces épreuves pour acquérir des perles de sagesse et d’aider son prochain.

Read Love & Compatibility – Part II

To be seen

Please subscribe to Coach Vaillant newsletter for new exclusive content

Men vs Women brain

It is a cliché that men and women feel loved a different way, and it is so true in many ways. Most men feel love primarily through sex and the common joke is that men think with their penis instead of their brain. The famous comedian Robin Williams used to say that the problem is, God gave man a brain and a penis and only enough blood to run one at a time.

Trump and Melania lack of intimacy

Women feel love primarily by being seen. They feel seen by getting a gift that shows we know what they like, by doing an act of service that we know they will appreciate (ex. cooking dinner on a night where we can feel they are exhausted, or taking the kids when we can see our spouse needs time for herself), by saying something nice and specific about her outfit or hairdo, by remembering special dates related to our love story, by selecting activities together that she enjoys, by noticing how she feels, by giving her heartfelt compliments about who she is as a person. What is important is that she has to feel unique, special and differentiated to show that you truly see her. This is why if you buy an expensive ring without making a conscious effort why this is the perfect ring specifically for her, the gift may not be appreciated. They will also not feel the love if you buy standard red roses, with a landmark card and balloon for Valentine’s Day or organize a trip a ski trip when she is really a beach person. Men feel always so confused about it and unappreciated. They performed the action, spent the money, made the effort but she is still not happy! It is because there was no conscious effort to make her feel seen in the offering and the man way of showing love was not differentiated. It has to be tailored in a way your partner feels seen as the unique person that she is, that you made the effort to understand who she is, and you have penetrated her inner world to do so.

So men try to make their partners feel seen to get laid. Women give sex to their men with the hope to be seen. It is often a frustrating transaction. How did we get there?

For a very long time, men were mocked to show any type of feelings as it evoked weakness. We were not allowed to show sadness, fear, shame, anxiety, grief, despair or helplessness if you were to be considered a real man. So we had to suppress all of these emotions. We were shamed and ridiculed for our feelings but we were always praised and envied by other men by mating with attractive women. This is why so much of our self-worth and identity has to do with sex. In this process of repressing our emotions, we lost the subtlety of being and the appreciation of the invisible things that make life magical. We lost touch with the incredible love to be experienced when we are seen as a person. So we compensated by being seen in ways that are very tangible and more quantitative: our material possessions, the physical beauty of our wife, our societal status, our medals, the school we are from, our profession, and all of our accomplishments. This may be comforting for the mind but it does nothing to our emotional being. In my career, I have met many very successful people with outstanding achievements but very few carried the radiance that you can see with genuinely happy and loving people.

baby funny face

I spent time recently with a friend and her 11-month-old baby. The baby kept frowning at me, which was funny, cute and surprising. The mother told me that when she saw this funny expression the first time on her baby’s face, she praised him a lot and gave him a lot of attention as she found it so adorable. The baby felt seen at that moment. So he is doing it now to everyone around because he is craving for being seen, as this is one of our most basic emotional needs. He does not understand yet you frown at people you are unhappy with. A lot of the attachment traumas we suffer come from the fact that we either have not been seen enough as a child (neglect) or seen in something unpleasant (abuse). It is so incredibly important for a baby’s development to be seen as a bundle of joy, which means to be adored, celebrated and treasured.

God created man in its image

In my own interpretation of the Creation, God divided itself in trillions and trillions of life forms to see Itself. When he was One and non manifested, he could not see Itself, could not know Itself and could not love Itself. God, too, risked everything for the sake of love and fragmented as a result. When someone awakens, it is said they develop God consciousness. Basically, they are able to see God (or themselves) in everything and everyone. Seeing the spark of the divine in all of creation is the highest form of love we can ever experience. Loving is seeing one’s divine nature in the mirror of creation. First, we require very specific mirrors such as a twin flame to experience that state. Later, as our ego becomes more diffuse and less rigid, all of our creation can reflect our divine nature. Poets understand this more than anyone. A dog running on the trail, the scent of a rose, a river flowing, a sunset on the horizon, the smile of a child. All of it can remind us of who we truly are, so that we can feel seen and loved.

Vaillant burning heart

As a number of my male friends, I have done poorly in my life making my partners feel seen. This has been an area where I struggled in all my love relationships despite my best efforts. I do not think my children felt seen by me too when they were younger and the same pattern limited so of my friendships for the same reason. My parents did not have parents when they were young so they never developed a sense of what it is to be truly seen, felt and understood. Most of our childhood traumas are more about what was not done to us rather than what was done to us. What is not healed in one generation is passed on to the next and I was no exception. An important event happened this week that may finally shift this pattern and this cycle of suffering. I was sitting with an older and very self-aware friend just trying to connect. For the first time of my life, I felt in my body the conscious sensation of being seen by him. I felt he could truly penetrate my world and see me. He made some insightful comments about me that made me feel differentiated and unique that brought tears to my eyes. For the first time of my life, I could understand somatically why women feel love when they are seen because I was this time on the receiving end and I could feel it myself with my whole being. Before, it had just been a mental concept for me, something I had to do to make my partner happy. I was not aware I had the same need to be seen too. I realized how to see each other is the easiest and more natural way of sharing love. And that sharing love is the most important thing we can ever do in our lives. I was bringing in me the capacity of feeling loved the same way the feminine does so naturally.

couple texting lack of intimacy

We need to be very conscious of social media. Like every tool, it can be used in positive ways to stay connected with family, friends, acquaintances or fans. It can be a learning and marketing tool, a way to share information effectively, or a source of inspiration. But it can also disconnect us from each other. So many people now would rather be on their phone rather than really connecting to the people that are in their physical vicinity. We make them feel small, unimportant and unseen as a result of looking for that small dopamine high. Let’s remember that connection and making each other feel seen is our most powerful way to share love, and there is nothing more important we could do at any given moment. And if you need to respond to an urgent email or text, then consider the other person and consciously ask for their permission to do so.

Joseph, Mary and Jesus family

For millenniums, we dominated women but we lost ourselves as a result. We felt threatened by women because they could create new lives through childbearing when we could not. We felt desperate for the love of women and hated this dependency so we attempted to control them. Jesus was the living example on how to marry the divine masculine and divine feminine within us. The patriarchy that was in charge at that time felt very threatened and quickly eradicated any mention of the feminine from his teachings once they became mainstream. During a meditation, I received the transmission that the sign of the cross that most Christians practice had been in fact corrupted. It was supposed to be:

  1. In the name of the Father (right hand on the forehead)
  2. And of the Mother (right hand on the heart)
  3. And of the Son (right hand on the left shoulder)
  4. And of the Holy Spirit (right hand on the right shoulder)

Father is the Yang energy, fire. Mother is the Yin energy, water. From there, the whole world is created. The Son is Christ consciousness in a human body (Jesus of Nazareth), the union of the divine masculine and the divine feminine in one human body to show us that heaven on earth is possible. The Holy Spirit invokes our own responsibility to live a life that is aligned with our soul direction and the higher principles of this universe. So we felt so threatened by the feminine that we enslaved it. By doing so, we lost touch with the invisible world of feelings and impoverished our life in dramatic ways. We stopped perceiving subtle feelings and seeing the spiritual world. God, angels, guides and demons became myths and fables for the weak and superstitious. Science took over spirituality. While this was healthy in a way, we went too far the other extreme in order to compensate from the abuse of religions. We got trapped in a material world and our own material creations started to dominate us as most of our lives are now driven by material pursuits. We can only reverse this trend by bringing back the feminine. And we can do it by learning to love as a woman, by loving intimacy, being seen and being loved as we are seen for who we are. We can rediscover this truth in ourselves by really getting in touch with what feels good. It cannot be a mental process. Let’s ask ourselves what we are really looking for in a relationship and not forcing the answer. It is time for us to make the invisible a priority over the visible. The feminine is supposed to symbolize pure, unlimited, unrestrained and free flowing energy. The masculine has to do about focusing and directing this energy for manifestation but not controlling it. In the same way, when we try to control the energy of love, it goes away. Love goes with freedom and expansiveness. Through our inner work, we can reconnect with the spark of light that is pure love within us, and look for ways to reflect this light back through all of our relations.

Are you ready to marry the feminine and the masculine within yourself?

Break-up

Please subscribe to Coach Vaillant newsletter for new exclusive content

Access the French version

breakup

I have fallen in love 6 times in my life. Falling in love feels like a higher state of consciousness where all we care about is spending time with our beloved, where our happiness is her happiness as we would do anything to earn her grace. In that state, time ceases to exist as 10 hours with our lover feels like 2 minutes. Eating, drinking and sleeping are deemed non-important when we are love-intoxicated. It is a very powerful state that can induce fears among the person’s entourage as someone in love appears suddenly so unpredictable. For that reason, psychologists have described this state in less favorable terms as infatuation or limerence, denoting a state of obsession, unreasoned passion or even addiction. In my personal experience, it is a very beautiful state that needs to be cherished, enjoyed thoroughly and extended as long as possible as it is so precious. Reality eventually kicks in, and it always feels too early when it does.

The Universe is very interested in our growth and it knows that there is nothing better than an intimate relationship to boost our self-awareness. So, it baits us with the magnificent feeling of falling in love. When we merge with someone else, we die and we are being reborn. The person we are going to fall madly in love with is the person that has the potential to maximize our inner development. Unfortunately, we all know from our lives that the times when we grew the most may have been the most challenging, and this is true for intimate relationships. I fully subscribe to the Imago theory that was developed by the Hendrix’s. It says that we are attracted to partners that will help us relive and eventually heal the unresolved traumas from childhood. Sometimes partners are able to go through that growth and healing together. However, some other times, one partner may run away from the other and will see the break-up as the most conducive to their healing. It is a matter of individual choice, and it is best to honor the person’s free will rather than pretending we know better by emitting judgments. Nevertheless, breaking up from an intimate partner is one of the most painful experiences of our existence down here, only comparable to the death of a loved one.

Paradoxically, my most difficult break-up was with my first love when I was only 19. I did not make a formal commitment to her such as an engagement. There were no legal or financial complications. We were both very young and our break-up only impacted us emotionally with very little consequences for our friends & family. How is it possible that my break-ups involving children, parents or splitting all of our assets could have felt less difficult to handle? This confirms that our life experience, the healing tools at our disposal, and mature thinking are critical in supporting the grieving process of break-ups. For this reason, I want to share with you what I have learned in this process in hope that it may be helpful to you.

huge-wave-crashing-on-pier-dock.jpg

Follow the waves instead of resisting them

The process of uncoupling is brutal because it involves many parts of us: physical, emotional and mental. As we lose this special person in our life, our body may go into shock as we cannot hug them, touch them or cuddle with them anymore, especially if this aspect of the relationship was really fulfilling. We may miss sharing our feelings, the small attentions, feeling loved or their emotional presence. We may miss the long, passionate and intellectually stimulating conversations. It will really depend on the specific relationship dynamics. In any case, this leaves a big void in our life. It is best to acknowledge it and completely feel it rather than denying it. I would like to share a quote that was sent by a friend of mine: “Grief, I’ve learned, is really just love. It’s the love you want to give but cannot. All of that unspent love gathers up in the corners of your eyes, the lump in your throat, and in that hollow part of your chest. Grief is just love with no place to go.” – Jamie Anderson

People who cannot move on from a relationship are people who cannot grieve because they refuse to feel the pain associated with the loss. Their ego refuses to experience this suffering because it would make it mean that they contributed to the failure of the relationship, that they were flawed, that they were bad, that they are meant to be alone, that they are unlovable, that they deserved to be abandoned, and so on, and so forth. It is all about unhealed attachment traumas. Instead they become negatively obsessed with the former object of love that they used to glorify publicly. They attempt to appear as a victim, forgetting they entered the relationship full heartedly with their freedom of choice. We do not need to be perfect to be loved. To be human is to be imperfect and we make mistakes. I gave all that I had to my important relationships so I hold no regret. Yes, I made mistakes but I did not know better at the time, so there is nothing to dwell on.

Screen Shot 2018-06-27 at 11.15.56 PM

After we have broken-up from a partner we loved, the pain will be acute, and the first waves will hit us hard. Last April, after I had just landed in France, if one of my friends would ask me how I was doing, I could not say a word but started shedding tears as the dissolution of the marriage had just started. This was healthy! After getting some sleep and recovering from jet lag, my mind was again in control and I lost touch again with my emotions. I had brought back my heart walls so as not to feel the pain of the break-up. Fortunately, my friend Jacques made me realize that I was getting in the way of my own grieving process. My mind was so afraid to feel out of control that it had started shutting down the feelings of loss. This was unhealthy. Societal expectations are therefore the opposite of what we need for our grieving process. The down waves may take the form of feeling unlovable, isolated, anxious or depressed for example. These emotions have to be experienced fully and somatically (with the body) with no judgment. The big mistake we make in our healing process is to overuse our mind while the body is so much better equipped to release trauma. Crying, shouting, shaking has done more for my healing than all of my analytical processes. Analysis should follow healing from the body and the emotions but not precede it. Fortunately, we have the ability to take advantage of our emotional suffering for healing purposes. So we can always benefit from a difficult and painful situation.

In my personal experience, the up and down waves take on average a week, and the waves’ intensity get lower over time to eventually stabilize back to a normal state. Recently, during one of the down waves, I started feeling very heavy energy. I went to lunch with a friend anyway but the plumber called me just as I was about to order lunch. I had to come back home right away. I realize this was a wake-up call to make the healing process the priority instead of daily activities. We went into the healing room and I started expressing the raw feelings without any filters. In this case, it was about that I felt that people I loved the most saw me as a monster. I let my body purge these emotions, and could come back to the original childhood fragment related to my sister. My parents lacked emotional maturity and did not prepare her well for my venue into this world. She saw me as the newcomer that was stealing from her the small crumbs of love from our parents. She developed hatred towards me that I had to internalize to cope. So I developed self-hatred and I created in my reality situations to reflect that belief. I was able to let go somatically of that belief during this session. I worked on changing that belief during another healing session. Interestingly, at the end of that session, one of my loved ones that is demonizing me called me unexpectedly and we had a nice exchange. I knew then that my inner work was starting to work on the fabric of reality.

Screen Shot 2018-06-27 at 11.22.39 PM

If you are getting a divorce, chances are that not all of the relationship was rosy and aspects of it were rather difficult. So the good news is that you will be experiencing up waves too! If your partner was over controlling and possessive, you may feel a sense of exhilaration from your newfound freedom. If your life was drowning in drama, you may feel relieved about experiencing peace and quiet again. If you were constantly criticized and always walked on eggshells, you may enjoy being again in an environment that is both supportive and nurturing. If you did not particularly enjoy your wife’s close friends, you may be happy to be away from them. Use these up waves to your advantage. Make sure to create opportunities for yourself to do the things you could not do when you were in the marriage to fully experience some of the benefits of the break-up. This will make you feel better about the divorce. On my end, I took a month in Europe to reconnect with old friends and family. There was nothing more healing than being surrounded by people who loved me and appreciated me for who I am. Healing is about having the opposite experience. I got inspired by doing things I was not able to do when I was married. This helped me to see the glass half full instead of half empty. Also we can only receive after we empty our cup so let us develop a sense of wonder of what is coming next into our life after the loss of love.

Get support

Screen Shot 2018-06-27 at 11.35.14 PM

We have been conditioned in this society to do everything on our own. So naturally, when tragedy strikes, we have a tendency to isolate. This is not healthy. We are social creatures and need each other. After breaking up an important relationship, our emotional balance goes off so we should not make things worse by denying our most basic human need to feel supported, loved and cared for. I felt very fortunate that some good-hearted people showed up in my life and kept me company when I needed it the most. Good people naturally want to help especially when their support is appreciated. It feels empowering to them and they are often healing themselves through this process too. The key is to be authentic with your pain and your needs, and you will be surprised by the amount of goodness coming your way.

Real pain versus imaginary pain

As I mentioned before, break-ups are some of the most painful experiences we can go through. However, we can make the process of grieving easier or harder on ourselves with the quality of our thoughts. The feeling of loss is real and takes time to heal. However, there are a lot of other emotions that are not real in the sense that they are fabricated by erroneous thinking. Without the faulty thought, some of the negative emotions would not even exist. This is where our mature inner adult (IA) can help our hurt inner child (IC).

IC: “This person destroyed my life. I will never be able to recover. This person took everything away from me.”

IA: “This was a difficult experience and I chose it out of my free will. There are important lessons to learn from any painful relationship.”

IC: “What’s wrong with me that I cannot have a healthy and nurturing relationship? I am forever doomed. God hates me.”

IA: “I have learned important lessons of this past relationship and I am much better equipped as a result to attract the right type of person into my life. Though it was painful, I see this person as an important teacher. There are often many layers of healing we need to go through to manifest what we truly want.”

IC: “This person has to pay for what he did to me and my children. I will make him pay for the rest of eternity so that he does not hurt anyone like he hurt me.”

IA: “I hope this person can be happy in their future relationships. I am glad I am not in his life anymore so that I can attract a relationship that feels better. If the same pattern appears again in any future relationship, I will know that the problem may be more related to me than him.”

If the inner child is really hurt, it is best for the inner adult to start validating the inner child before sharing his wisdom. For example, in the first situation, this would look like “I feel that this person destroyed my life and took everything away from me. Sometimes I may feel that I will never be able to recover. However, I have been through similar difficult break-ups in the past and I have survived. I actually keep attracting better partners. I can see this was a difficult experience but I chose it out of my free will and no one forced me into it. There are some important lessons I learned from this relationship”. Use your intuition to balance effectively your IC and IA. If you were to let your toddler run the show in your household, things would be quickly out of control and your sweet child would turn into a high-chair tyrant. Meet all the emotional needs of your inner child but do not lose yourself in the process. An important role of the IA is to educate the IC to grow-up. Emotional validation has to come with accountability so that we do not get stuck in a victim role, which is one of the lowest vibrational states.

Keeping contact or not after a break-up?

People who break-up that still love each other will feel very hurt. It is often very difficult for them to stay in contact, and any exchange with the estranged partner may feel like re-traumatization. In an ideal world, especially if there are children involved, it would be best for former partners to stay friendly and on social terms. In my experience, it is however only feasible when the love has faded away for both partners and they have moved on with their respective lives. There is no sense of loss anymore or hard feelings. This can take time. How likely is this when a couple has just broken up? Very unlikely. If one person is not in love anymore but the other person is, then the situation is just as difficult. I am of the opinion that people need to do what is best for their personal healing. However, if children are involved, put the children’s healing first while not succumbing to ex-partner control dramas. I have kept in touch with a couple of the women I have been in love with in the past, and I have found these relationships rewarding. However, it often took years before we were able to reconnect. This should not be forced, as the newly gained friendship would need to be unconditional and away from all the failed expectations of the past. So in most cases, a clean cut in the short-term may be preferable to support the emotional healing of the recently broken up couple.

Gratitude as the ultimate healing tool

By doing important healing work in Europe supported by friends and family, I found the resources to write a blog about the end of the marriage in a way that was genuinely grateful. And this time, I was not bypassing. I could appreciate all the wonderful times and all the gifts that came from the relationship. It was now up to me to create in my life and in myself all the things I previously adored in her. When we are grateful, we cannot be resentful. When we are grateful, we cannot feel like a victim. When we are grateful, we cannot feel revengeful. When we are grateful, we are looking forward to a bright future and we are not lost dwelling on the past. When we are grateful, we do not close ourselves off and on the contrary, we keep our heart open to new possibilities. We should not rush ourselves into this state however. Before we can reach genuine gratitude, all raw emotions of powerlessness, anger, resentment, sadness and loss have to be experienced. And sometimes, we have to go through these emotions multiples times through various cycles. Our emotions need be true, and we should not pretend we are feeling something that we are not. This is a big part of living an authentic life. We need to find the courage to express openly how we feel when we are in a safe environment unconcerned of the good opinions of others

How long does it take to heal from a break-up?

Screen Shot 2018-06-27 at 11.17.23 PM

If we are committed to our healing, have a supportive environment, and can rely on a wise IA (Inner Adult), I think one month per year of the relationship is a fair expectation. Otherwise, it may take much longer and actually some people never get over some past relationships. Sometimes the grieving or pulling away will actually start when you are still in the relationship. During the grieving phase, strict celibacy is most recommended. Our sexual energy is the finest energy at our disposal and this energy can be turned inward for healing. This will work marvels and help you shift to a new level. If we genuinely listen to our body during a grieving cycle, we will notice that the body has no desire to expand its energy sexually. Only the mind may do so in order to prevent experiencing difficult emotions as it follows an addictive pattern. Our mind is a good servant but a poor master. Our heart and body wisdom are far more reliable to know what is best for us. Do not rush your grieving process. Slower is often faster.

How about you? I am interested to know more about your own break-up stories, what you learned from them, and what helped your grieving process.

French translation below – Article en Français ci-dessus

Rupture amoureuse

Je suis tombé amoureux six fois dans ma vie. Tomber amoureux, c’est comme vivre un état de conscience extatique où tout ce qui nous intéresse est de passer du temps avec l’être aimé, où notre bonheur est son bonheur, et nous ferions n’importe quoi pour mériter sa grâce. Dans cet état, le temps cesse d’exister, et dix heures avec l’être aimé passent si rapidement. Manger, boire et dormir sont relégués au second plan lorsque nous sommes dans cet état d’ébriété amoureuse. Une personne amoureuse suscite des craintes au sein de son entourage, car elle apparaît soudainement imprévisible. Pour cette raison, les psychologues ont décrit cet état amoureux en des termes peu favorables dénotant un état d’obsession, une passion irraisonnée ou même une dépendance. D’après mon expérience personnelle, c’est un très bel état qui doit être chéri, apprécié complètement et rallongé aussi longtemps que possible, car il est si précieux. Le quotidien et la routine reprennent le dessus sur cette passion toujours trop tôt.

Il n’y a rien de mieux qu’une relation intime pour notre croissance intérieure et développer notre conscience personnelle. Les périls sont importants, et la nature nous appâte par ce sentiment magnifique d’être amoureux. Lorsque nous fusionnons avec quelqu’un d’autre, nous mourons et nous renaissons. La personne dont nous allons tomber éperdument amoureux est celle qui a le potentiel de maximiser notre développement intérieur. Malheureusement, nous savons que les moments de notre vie où nous avons grandi le plus ont peut-être aussi été les plus difficiles, et cela est d’autant plus vrai pour les relations intimes. Je souscris pleinement à la théorie Imago développée par Harville Hendrix. Il dit que nous sommes attirés par des partenaires qui nous aideront à revivre et éventuellement à guérir les traumatismes non résolus de notre enfance. Le couple est parfois capable de s’aider mutuellement à revivre ensemble ces traumatismes de l’enfance afin de catalyser leur guérison intérieure. Cependant, bien trop souvent, l’un des partenaires prend peur, abandonne ou considère que la rupture est la condition la plus propice à cette même guérison. C’est une question de choix individuel, et il est préférable de respecter le libre arbitre de la personne plutôt que de prétendre que nous savons mieux qu’elle en émettant des jugements et des critiques. Néanmoins, rompre avec un partenaire intime est l’une des expériences les plus douloureuses de notre existence ici-bas, comparable à la mort d’un être cher.

Paradoxalement, alors que je n’avais que dix-neuf ans, j’ai ressenti la fin de mon premier amour comme la rupture amoureuse la plus difficile que j’ai vécue. Je n’avais pourtant aucun engagement formel, comme des fiançailles. Il n’y avait aucune complication juridique ou financière. Nous étions tous les deux très jeunes, et notre rupture ne nous a touchés que de manière affective, avec très peu de conséquences pour nos amis et notre famille. Comment est-il possible que mes ruptures impliquant des enfants, des parents ou la séparation de tout notre patrimoine aient été moins difficiles à gérer ? Cela confirme que notre expérience de la vie, les outils de guérison à notre disposition et une pensée mature sont essentiels pour la guérison des cœurs brisés. Pour cette raison, je souhaite partager avec vous ce que j’ai appris au cours de ce processus, dans l’espoir que cela puisse vous être utile.

Le processus de découplage est brutal, car il implique de nombreuses parties de nous-mêmes : physique, émotionnelle et mentale. Lorsque nous perdons la personne que nous aimons, notre corps peut être sous le choc du fait que nous ne puissions plus les embrasser, les toucher ou les câliner, surtout si cet aspect de la relation était épanouissant. Il peut être aussi douloureux de ne plus partager nos sentiments ainsi que les petites attentions du quotidien, de ne plus se sentir aimé, et leur absence nous pèse émotionnelle. Les longues conversations passionnées et stimulantes sur le plan intellectuel peuvent aussi nous manquer. Les souffrances de la rupture sont vraiment spécifiques à chaque relation. Cependant, cela nous laisse avec un grand vide dans notre vie. Il est cependant préférable de reconnaître et de ressentir ce manque plutôt que de le nier pour notre guérison. Je voudrais partager avec vous une citation qui m’a été envoyée par un de mes amis : « Le chagrin, c’est de l’amour. C’est de l’amour que vous voulez donner, mais il n’y a plus personne pour le recevoir. Tout cet amour non partagé se rassemble dans les coins de nos yeux, dans le creux de notre gorge et dans cette partie vide de ta poitrine. Le chagrin est un amour qui n’a nulle part où aller. » – Jamie Anderson

Les personnes qui ne peuvent pas guérir et donc faire le deuil d’une rupture amoureuse sont celles qui refusent de ressentir la douleur associée à la perte de l’être cher. Leur ego refuse de vivre cette souffrance, car cela voudrait dire qu’ils son responsable de l’échec du couple, et donc qu’ils étaient défaillants, qu’ils étaient mauvais, qu’ils rendaient l’autre malheureux, qu’ils méritaient d’être abandonnés et ainsi de suite. Il s’agit de traumatismes d’attachement de l’enfance non guéris. Au lieu de cela, ils s’obsèdent à détruire et critiquer cette personne qu’ils glorifiaient auparavant. Ils tentent maintenant d’apparaître comme une victime, oubliant qu’ils sont entrés dans cette relation amoureuse avec leur libre arbitre. Nous n’avons pas besoin d’être parfaits pour être aimés. Être humain, c’est être imparfait, et nous faisons des erreurs. Je me suis donné entièrement aux femmes que j’ai aimées, et je n’ai rien à regretter. Oui, j’ai fait des erreurs, mais j’ai agi au mieux en fonction de mes compréhensions de l’époque. Il n’y a donc pas de quoi s’attarder à refaire le passé.

Après avoir rompu avec un partenaire que nous avons aimé intensément, la douleur est aiguë et les premières vagues de chagrin nous frappent durement. En avril dernier, peu après la rupture avec ma femme, si l’un de mes amis me demandait comment j’allais, je ne pouvais pas dire un mot, mais commençais à verser des larmes. C’était en fait une bonne chose ! Après avoir dormi un peu et récupéré du décalage horaire, ma tête était à nouveau en contrôle et j’ai de nouveau perdu contact avec mes émotions. J’avais à nouveau blindé mon cœur pour ne pas ressentir la douleur de la rupture. Heureusement, mon ami Jacques m’a fait comprendre que je m’opposais à mon propre processus de deuil et donc de guérison émotionnelle. Ma tête avait si peur de perdre le contrôle qu’elle avait commencé à enfouir mon chagrin. C’était malsain. Les attentes de la société reliées à la non-expression des émotions négatives sont donc le contraire de ce dont nous avons besoin pour notre processus de deuil. La perte d’une relation intime peut prendre la forme d’une dépression, d’une lourde solitude, de l’angoisse ou d’une tristesse inconsolable, par exemple. Ces émotions doivent être vécues pleinement et somatiquement (avec le corps) sans jugement. La grande erreur que nous commettons dans notre processus de guérison est de tout résoudre et analyser par la tête alors que le corps est tellement mieux équipé pour libérer un traumatisme. Pleurer, crier, trembler a plus fait pour ma guérison intérieure que tous mes processus analytiques. L’analyse doit suivre la guérison du corps et des émotions, mais pas la précéder. Heureusement, nous avons la capacité d’apprendre de nos souffrances émotionnelles pour devenir des personnes avec plus de sagesse et de compassion. La vie nous donne justice, car nous pouvons heureusement toujours bénéficier d’une situation difficile et douloureuse.

D’après mon expérience personnelle, les vagues montantes et descendantes de souffrance émotionnelle prennent en moyenne une semaine, et l’intensité de celles-ci diminue progressivement avec le temps pour finalement se stabiliser à un état normal. Récemment, pendant l’une des vagues, j’ai commencé à ressentir une énergie très lourde. Malgré cela, je suis allé déjeuner avec un ami, mais le plombier m’a appelé au moment où j’allais faire ma commande. Je devais rentrer à la maison tout de suite. Je me suis rendu compte que cet appel était un signe que je devais mettre en priorité mon processus de guérison plutôt que mes activités quotidiennes. Nous sommes allés dans la pièce de la maison réservée aux guérisons émotionnelles et avec le soutien de mon ami, j’ai commencé à exprimer sans filtre toutes mes émotions négatives. Dans ce cas précis, je ressentais que les personnes que j’aimais le plus dans ma vie me considéraient comme un monstre. J’ai donc laissé mon corps purger ces émotions, et j’ai pu alors revenir au traumatisme initial de mon enfance relié à ma sœur. Mes parents qui manquaient de maturité émotionnelle dû fait de leurs propres traumatismes et ne l’avaient pas bien préparée pour mon entrée dans ce monde. Elle m’a perçu comme un intrus qui lui volait les petites miettes d’amour venant de nos parents. Elle a montré tout de suite une haine envers moi bébé, que j’ai dû intérioriser pour y faire face. J’ai donc développé un dégoût envers moi-même et j’ai manifesté dans ma vie des situations pour incarner cette croyance. J’ai heureusement pu abandonner somatiquement cette opinion négative grâce à deux séances de guérison. Fait intéressant, à la fin de la deuxième session, un de mes proches qui me diabolisait m’a appelé de façon inattendue et nous avons eu un bon échange. Je savais alors que mon travail intérieur commençait à travailler sur le tissu de la réalité.

Si vous divorcez, il est probable que la relation n’était pas toute rose et que certains aspects étaient plutôt difficiles. La bonne nouvelle est donc que vous ferez également l’expérience de vagues émotionnelles montantes et joyeuses également ! Si votre partenaire vous traitait de manière trop possessive et contrôlante, vous ressentirez peut-être un sentiment d’exaltation relié votre nouvelle liberté. Si votre vie était submergée de drames constants, vous serez alors soulagé de retrouver la paix et la tranquillité. Si vous étiez constamment critiqué et que vous marchiez toujours sur des œufs, vous apprécierez d’être à nouveau dans un environnement à la fois positif et encourageant. Si vous n’appréciiez pas les amis proches de votre partenaire, vous serez alors heureux de vous en éloigner. Utilisez ces vagues ascendantes à votre avantage. Assurez-vous de faire à présent les choses qui n’étaient pas possibles pendant le mariage afin de profiter pleinement des avantages de la rupture. Cela vous permettra de mieux vivre le divorce et de voir le verre à moitié plein au lieu de celui qui est à moitié vide. De mon côté, j’ai pris un mois de vacances en Europe afin de renouer le contact avec d’anciens amis et ma famille. Il n’y avait rien de plus apaisant que d’être entouré de gens qui m’aimaient et qui m’appréciaient pour qui je suis. Guérir, c’est vivre l’expérience inverse du traumatisme. Selon la sagesse bouddhiste, nous ne pouvons recevoir qu’après avoir vidé notre tasse, alors laissez-vous remplir d’un sens d’anticipation et d’émerveillement de ce qui va arriver dans notre vie après la perte de l’amour.

Solliciter de l’aide

Nous avons été conditionnés par la société à tout faire par nous-mêmes. Alors, naturellement, lorsque nous sommes blessés, nous avons tendance à nous isoler. Ce n’est pas sain. Nous sommes des créatures sociales et avons besoin les uns des autres. Après la rupture d’une relation intime importante, notre équilibre émotionnel se dégrade, nous ne devons donc pas aggraver la situation en niant notre besoin humain le plus élémentaire de se sentir soutenu, aimé et pris en charge. J’étais très chanceux que de bons amis et des personnes aimantes me tiennent compagnie quand j’en avais le plus besoin. Il est naturel pour la plupart d’entre nous d’aider son prochain surtout quand notre soutien est apprécié. Cela nous donne une image positive de nous-même, et aider l’autre, c’est aussi souvent se guérir soi-même. Le plus important, c’est d’être authentique dans l’expression de votre douleur et de vos besoins, et vous serez alors surpris de toute la bonté venant vers vous.

Douleur réelle et douleur imaginaire

Comme je l’ai déjà mentionné, les ruptures sont parmi les expériences les plus douloureuses que nous puissions vivre. Cependant, nous pouvons rendre ce processus de deuil plus ou moins facile grâce à la qualité de nos pensées. Le sentiment de perte de l’être aimé est réel et cela prend du temps à guérir. Cependant, beaucoup d’autres émotions n’ont pas vraiment lieu d’être dans la mesure où elles sont fabriquées par une pensée erronée. C’est là que notre adulte intérieur(AI) peut aider notre enfant intérieur (EI) blessé.

EI : « Cette personne a détruit ma vie. Je ne pourrai jamais m’en remettre. Cette personne m’a détruite. »

AI : « Ce fut une expérience difficile, mais je l’ai choisie de mon plein gré. Il y a d’importantes leçons à tirer de toute relation douloureuse. »

EI : « Qu’est-ce qui ne va pas chez moi, je ne peux pas avoir une relation saine et enrichissante ? Je suis maudite à jamais et je serai seule pour le reste de mes jours. »

AI : « J’ai appris d’importantes leçons de cette relation passée et je suis beaucoup mieux équipée pour attirer le bon type d’homme dans ma vie à présent. Bien que cela ait été douloureux, je considère cette personne comme quelqu’un qui m’a beaucoup apporté. Je sais maintenant beaucoup mieux ce que je recherche chez un homme et ce dont je ne veux plus. »

EI : « Cet homme doit payer pour tout le mal qu’il a fait à moi et à mes enfants. Je vais le faire souffrir pour le reste de l’éternité pour qu’il comprenne. »

AI : « J’espère que cette femme pourra être heureuse dans ses relations futures. Je suis heureux de ne plus être dans sa vie, car il y avait beaucoup trop de conflits, et je peux maintenant attirer à moi une relation qui me convient bien mieux. Si le même schéma réapparaît dans toute relation future, je saurai alors que le problème vient de moi et non d’elle. »

Si l’enfant intérieur est blessé, il est préférable que l’adulte intérieur commence à valider l’enfant intérieur avant de partager sa sagesse. Par exemple, dans la première situation, cela ressemblerait à ceci : « Je sens que cette personne a détruit ma vie et m’a tout pris. Parfois, je m’égare à penser que je ne pourrai jamais me rétablir psychologiquement. Cependant, j’ai vécu des difficultés similaires dans le passé et j’ai survécu. En fait, je continue d’attirer de meilleurs compagnons. Je peux voir que ce fut une expérience difficile, mais je l’ai choisie de mon plein gré et personne ne m’y a forcée. J’ai appris quelques leçons importantes de cette relation. » Utilisez votre intuition pour communiquer harmonieusement avec votre EI et votre AI. Si vous laissiez votre bambin tout diriger chez vous, cela tournerait rapidement au souk, et votre doux enfant deviendrait un tyran en landau. Écoutez patiemment tous les besoins émotionnels de votre enfant intérieur, mais ne vous oubliez pas dans ce processus. L’un des rôles importants de l’AI consiste à éduquer l’EI pour qu’il grandisse. La validation émotionnelle doit aller de pair avec la responsabilité afin que nous ne restions pas coincés dans un rôle de victime, qui est l’un des états vibratoires les plus bas.

Rester en contact ou non après une rupture ?

Les personnes qui se séparent, mais qui s’aiment encore seront très blessées. Il est souvent très difficile pour eux de rester en contact, et tout échange avec l’ex-partenaire peut être ressenti comme un nouveau traumatisme. Dans un monde idéal, en particulier s’il y a des enfants, il serait préférable que les anciens partenaires restent courtois. D’après mon expérience, cela n’est toutefois possible que lorsque l’amour du couple n’est plus là et que chacun a tourné la page. Il n’y a alors plus de sentiment de manque ou de rancœur. Cela peut prendre du temps. Quelle est la probabilité que cela se produise lorsqu’un couple vient de se séparer ? C’est très improbable. Si une personne n’est plus amoureuse, mais que l’autre personne l’est, la situation est tout aussi difficile. Je suis d’avis que les gens doivent faire ce qu’il y a de mieux pour leur guérison personnelle. Toutefois, si des enfants sont impliqués, accordez la priorité à la santé émotionnelle des enfants sans céder aux drames et au contrôle de votre ex-partenaire. Je suis resté en contact avec quelques-unes des femmes que j’ai aimées par le passé, et j’ai trouvé ces relations enrichissantes. Cependant, il a souvent fallu des années avant de pouvoir créer une amitié après la fin de l’histoire d’amour. Cela ne peut être forcé, car l’amitié nouvellement acquise doit être inconditionnelle et éloignée de toutes les déceptions de la relation passée. Donc, dans la plupart des cas, une coupure nette est préférable à court terme pour permettre la guérison émotionnelle du couple récemment éclaté.

La gratitude comme outil de guérison ultime

En effectuant un important travail de guérison en Europe grâce au soutien de mes amis et de ma famille, j’ai trouvé les ressources nécessaires pour écrire un blog afin d’annoncer notre divorce d’une manière réellement reconnaissante en pensant à tous les bienfaits et les moment merveilleux qui ont accompagnés notre relation. Et je ne faisais pas la politique de l’autruche. C’était maintenant à moi de créer dans ma vie et en moi tout ce que j’avais adoré auparavant chez elle. Lorsque nous sommes reconnaissants, nous ne pouvons pas être en colère. Lorsque nous sommes reconnaissants, nous ne pouvons pas nous sentir victimes. Lorsque nous sommes reconnaissants, nous ne pouvons pas nous venger. Lorsque nous sommes reconnaissants, un avenir radieux nous attend et nous arrêtons de vivre dans le passé. Lorsque nous sommes reconnaissants, nous ne nous fermons pas et au contraire, nous gardons notre cœur ouvert à de nouvelles possibilités. Cependant, nous ne devons pas précipiter le processus de deuil en soi. Avant que nous puissions atteindre une véritable gratitude, nous devons faire l’expérience de toutes les émotions crues d’impuissance, de colère, de rancœur, de tristesse et de manque. Et souvent, nous devons vivre ces émotions négatives plusieurs fois au cours de différents cycles. Nos émotions doivent être authentiques et nous ne devons pas prétendre ressentir quelque chose que nous ne ressentons pas. C’est cela que de vivre une vie authentique. Nous devons trouver le courage d’exprimer ouvertement ce que nous ressentons lorsque nous nous sentons en sécurité sans se soucier de l’opinion d’autrui.

Combien de temps faut-il pour guérir d’une rupture ?

Si nous voulons vraiment guérir, si nous vivons dans un milieu sain et si nous pouvons compter sur un adulte intérieur qui a de la sagesse, je pense qu’un mois par année de la relation est un délai raisonnable. Toutefois, cela peut prendre parfois beaucoup plus de temps et d’ailleurs, certains individus ne surmontent jamais certains chagrins amoureux. Il est aussi possible que vous fassiez le deuil de l’être cher alors même que vous êtes encore dans la relation. Pendant la phase de deuil, le célibat strict est très recommandé. Notre énergie sexuelle est la plus fine des énergies dont nous disposons, et vous avez besoin de tourner cette énergie créative vers l’intérieur pour votre guérison. Si nous écoutons réellement notre corps pendant un cycle de deuil, nous remarquerons que le corps n’a aucune envie de dépenser son énergie sexuellement. Seule la tête peut le faire afin d’éviter de ressentir des émotions difficiles, car cela suit un schéma de dépendance et de peur de la solitude. Notre tête est un bon serviteur, mais un bien pauvre maître. La sagesse de notre cœur et de notre corps est beaucoup plus fiable pour savoir ce qui est le mieux pour nous. Ne précipitez pas votre processus de deuil.

Je suis intéressé à en savoir plus sur vos propres histoires de rupture, ce que vous en avez appris et ce qui a aidé votre processus de deuil. N’hésitez pas à partager vos histoires et vos questions ci-dessous dans les commentaires.

The dance of Kali and Shiva

Please subscribe to Coach Vaillant newsletter for new exclusive content

kali

I have spent over 20 years married or in an intimate relationship with what people would call strong and powerful women. My point of attraction trying to control the uncontrollable came from attachment trauma. But my childhood traumas are not the focus on my blog today. Many men today are in relationship and in love with such women and I would like to share my experience to support them having a better relationship.

Kali is one of the most popular forms of the divine in India, especially among women. She is the great destroyer, even more powerful than Shiva, and in her destruction, she allows new things to be born. In this way, she is both a killer and a mother. She often appears when the prettier, softer goddesses are enraged, when a male force like Shiva or a demon on the battlefield tries to control, placate or subjugate her. According to Tantric philosophy, Kali represents Shakti, the fundamental feminine energy that animates everything and will not be fully controlled by masculine force. She also represents the rage that arises when a woman feels underestimated by her partner, or when she feels that he refuses to show up for her.

St Paul's creed for women

Men have oppressed women for thousand of years. Women reveal prettier faces most of the time because, generally, they catch more flies with honey however their collective repressed rage and anger towards men is real and explodes periodically in their intimate relationships. Women who have suffered sexual abuse, abandonment, emotional repression from an invalidating family environment or neglect from an emotionally unavailable father will be even more prone to Kali energy. Kali represents the active destructive uncontrollable force that can be witnessed often with women and sometimes with men during intimate quarrels. To be at the receiving end of a person spewing the negative side of Kali energy, which is hatred fueled from sexual energies, is one of the most difficult energetic and emotional experience to withstand. And I speak from experience!

funny billboard from scorned woman

“Hell hath no fury, like a woman scorned,” is a proverb written in the late 17th century by William Congreve. It refers, of course, to a woman scorned in love who becomes consumed with hatred. She will either self-destruct (creative energy turned on itself) or destroy all that is around them  including her own children. Hatred and its many forms of disgust, repulsion, rejection, and dislike, do not seem like a choice for the person caught in this fury. However “A woman scorned” needs to eventually admit that she chooses to perceive herself as scorned if she wants to heal. While women are more prone to Kali destructive energy than men, just like men are more prone to disconnection and sociopathy, men can also display Kali energy. I was 19 when I fell in love for the first time. Her name was Carole. We had a passionate love story that lasted 3 months. I made some insensitive hurtful comments without realizing it. It broke her heart so she pulled away. I felt abandoned in return and we broke up though we loved each other very much. Quickly after, she went for another guy. I felt deeply betrayed. For months following the break-up, I held intense hatred towards her. I refused to take any responsibility for the split and chose instead to make her bad. I was full of anger, bitterness and resentment. During this period when I was boiling with anger, I had the downstairs neighbor mentioning a couple of times a leak from my shower to his apartment. I did not pay attention as my mind was so immersed with blames and feelings of unfairness towards Carole. One early morning after I had taken a shower, someone banged on my door very loudly. I opened and my neighbor stormed into my apartment completely enraged. He pushed me then held me violently against the wall and threatened to kill me if I did not get this leak fixed. Then he left. I was left completely shocked and confused. I had the wisdom to realize that my neighbor was the external manifestation of my repressed rage, and I started a process of healing that eventually led to forgiveness, and letting go of the relationship.

This unprocessed Kali energy is the cause of many wars and strife in our world. Wasn’t the Trojan War waged against the city of Troy by the Achaeans after Paris of Troy took Helen from her husband Menelaus, king of Sparta? After close examination, you will find that many world conflicts are originated from Kali.

Although it is uncomfortable being on the receiving end of that energy, the remedy is simple…remove yourself from the vicinity of the individual if you can. The one who is venting the stream of creative energy in rage and hatred, however, is more trapped in a living hell than ever we could imagine. Unchecked, this corrosive energy will consume the person completely, destroying his/her health and leading to a complete break down of their life.

Not all Kali energy is negative as it can be emancipating as well. When a woman says “I need to find my Kali side,” or “I need some Kali energy,” she’s looking for a way to stand up for herself, to discover her inner fierceness, or to express the outrageous side of her sexuality. There is tremendous power and appeal in that energy. Aren’t we men fearful but also so attracted to the femme fatale? As long as there is awareness coming with this energy, it can very liberating especially if the person understands that the aim in expressing this Kali energy is to discover the hurt and pain behind it so that it may be released.

Let me now share with you 25 years of trial & error dealing with the Kali energy of my partners hoping it will speed up your understanding and improve your relationship.

In my early twenties, when Kali would show up, my immediate reaction would be to remove myself and go to my “cave” for a couple of days. It was a very ineffective approach. My partner would feel abandoned and unloved as the result. A woman wants to feel contained by a man. My attitude was more that of a boy than a man. They felt they could not be received as a woman so they would break-up with me, which would be incredibly painful because of my own abandonment traumas. Looking for solutions, I read at that time “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus” from John Gray. As a young man, I decided that I would not retract anymore to my cave when Kali would show-up in my partner, as I decided to commit to have a life-long marriage.

man withdrawing emotionally to his cave

Kali would then show-up about once or twice a month in my partner. At first, I was terrified but held my commitment. I engaged with Kali, tried to bring her to reason, lost my temper, cried at times, begged for mercy. Kali defeated me every single time and it would take me about 3 days to recover emotionally. Kali was satisfied however. As this cycles were so difficult to endure, I looked for solutions in self-improvement books to find a way out of my misery. I strengthened my mind with new knowledge. For example, Wayne Dyer would say “How people treat you is their karma; how you react is yours” or “What comes out when life squeezes you? When someone hurts or offends you? If anger, pain and fear come out of you, it’s because that’s what’s inside. When someone puts the pressure on you and out of you comes anything other than love, it’s because that’s what you’ve allowed to be inside. Once you take away all those negative things you don’t want in your life and replace them with love, you’ll find yourself living a highly functioning life”. Another one from Wayne Dyer that I used a lot to deal with the borderline crises of my partner was “There is a story concerning the Buddha, who is in the company of a fellow traveler who tests this great teacher with derogatory, insulting, disparaging, and bitter responses to anything the Buddha says. Every day, for three days when the Buddha spoke, the traveler responded by calling him a fool, and ridiculing the Buddha in some arrogant fashion. Finally, at the end of the third day, the traveler could stand it no more. He asked, “How is it that you are able to be so loving and kind when all I’ve done for the past three days is dishonor and offend you? Each time I am disobliging to you, you respond in a loving manner. How is this possible?” The Buddha responded with a question of his own for the traveler. “If someone offers you a gift, and you do not accept that gift, to whom does the gift belong?”. Armed with this new knowledge, I was starting to give Kali a decent fight.

buddha's tale

In a middle of conflict, I would then stay physically present but would however use my mind as a shield, not engaging but rather visualizing myself being squeezed and spreading love instead. Or like the Buddha, I would attempt to withstand anger from my partner in equanimity. With enough practice, my mind had started to defeat Kali. It would sometimes take hours or a whole night but I would be sure not to expand too much energy. With no more physical and emotional energy left in her body, my partner would then eventually collapse and go to sleep though it may take many hours of the night before reaching this point. Endurance and patience were the key. Following this Kali cycle, she would be completely drained and disconnected for 3 days and I would just let this pass though it was uncomfortable and separating. Reflecting on this period, I can see how I developed my own demon of disconnection to defeat the demon of Kali. This was a war not a relationship. I learned not to engage with Kali too because Kali was not rational and distorting facts to win her war. Instead, I stayed physically present, looking at the eyes of my partner trying to lend her energy in order to get back to a rational space if her mind had been usurped by the wrath of Kali. However,  I realize now it was not different than Shiva trying to placate Kali which would infuriate her even more. So I learned during this phase not to get affected by Kali, and to stay in control for safety. The suppressed anger however never healed, on the contrary. So much toxic energy had accumulated that there was no space for a loving relationship anymore. It was a power struggle. Even as the marriage eventually ended, Kali’s wrath is still pursuing me, refusing to let me go.

Then I started a relationship with a much more conscious woman with potent Kali energy. Our Shiva and Kali would fight too but she would bring remarkable awareness in the process. I started to take more responsibility for the anger of my partner realizing she was expressing negative emotions I was repressing. I became familiar with the concept of emotional tanking. I became more aware of my habit of deflecting. Basically, I would do or say something that hurt my partner who would then react with a negative emotion. I would shame her for her reaction, which would escalate the argument further, which eventually may trigger me too. We worked very hard on solving our disputes however she could not emotionally regulate and I lacked attunement, a lethal combination. We both had very powerful protector personalities to cover our damaged wounded inner children so we committed to only bring our vulnerable selves. Easier said than done! I acquired more knowledge and started to become much better at validating her emotions and containing her by acknowledging the parts I was responsible of. I made a lot of conscious efforts to see her, feel her and understand her, as she would go through these crises. We followed an analytical approach, which gave us a lot of new knowledge and wisdom. Unfortunately, over time, she became more and more of a pressure cooker. While I was able to let go, release and heal our disputes as they came and went as there was so many highs in the relationship that compensated for the struggles. On her side however, she built resentment and she started to see me as her perpetrator. She was more and more divided with heightened intensity between the love she had for me and the terror from being hurt emotionally. Her pain became so intense that she eventually broke off the relationship out of survival. I felt deeply hurt and confused from the break-up as I thought I was just holding healthy boundaries.

cacao ceremony

Last week, I decided to attend a cacao ceremony in Salt Lake City that was held by friends. The ceremony started softly as several of us started sharing their thoughts and feelings in a contained way. Then, two of the ladies that were experienced shadow workers started to bring their Kali energies. It felt a bit unreal like I was in an improvisational theater. They were screaming, behaving angrily with an intensity that felt at odd with the spiritual setting of a cacao ceremony. One of them even took a glass and broke it in thousand pieces on the floor. Did they have unresolved anger issues or were we tanking them? It was unclear. At some point, I attempted to contain the Kali energy of one of them as I was used to. It went well until she lashed back at me, which triggered me as I was just trying to help her without any ulterior motives (at least consciously). I shared openly my trigger with the group. I became aware I was again a match to Kali. They supported me to go into my own fears. I saw clearly that I was feeling unsafe and out-of-control. I took responsibility for my state and attempted to go deeper to see what was lying under the fear. I started to breath heavily to bring up the repressed emotions. I first observed my own anger. The group continued to act as a safe container as I went deeper. I realized that her wrath was her desperate attempt for connection. Kali wanted people closer to her. I could see how my attempts to stay in control with my mind were just alienating Kali even more as it made me more distant emotionally. While I thought I was deescalating an argument, I saw how all these years, I was instead intensifying Kali’s rage by aggravating her abandonment fears and her desperate need for intimacy. All my attempts to be in control were creating more chaos as I was not meeting Kali’s needs. Kali wanted to be loved as she is, she wanted me closer, she wanted to be fully contained by me. She wanted to be contained more with my body and emotions than my mind. With the help of breathwork, I started to play somatically with Kali. I made sounds, moved around, got in touch with own beast, matched the intensity of her vibration and entered into the chaos with confidence and fearlessness. My body and emotions had taken over. Kali felt seen and she shifted. She started crying and connected to her inner wound. Healing started for her. On my side, I felt a strong sensation in my belly connected with shame. I had made the expression of volatile & wild emotions so unacceptable that I was struggling with my own expression of engaging with Kali, judging it as ridiculous. I had made these emotions so unacceptable in me that I was selecting partners to manifest them externally. I saw my worry and my fear of being judged harshly by others if I were to lose my temper. I saw the projection of this fear in my severe judgment of people who are lacking self-control. I saw how for so many years I had been shaming Kali and made things much worse in the process. All my life, I had been focused in controlling other people reactions, in evaluating situations to create the desired outcome, in manipulating reality through my mind. There was no spontaneity. My mind was in charge to make that next sale, to make the woman I loved happy, to be liked by others, to create the desired outcome. But as long as my inner “manager” was in charge, I was failing because I lacked authenticity and people feel the difference. People cannot trust in-authenticity. I became aware that being an artist is to express from within without attempting to control the outcome. If I were to make the shift from an engineer to an artist, I had to face that fear. I finally gave in and surrendered. I saw all the marketing that inundate us daily as part of the same manipulation and mind control. I made the commitment to step into my authenticity, into the unknown and stop controlling the reality that will be created as a result. We are messy inside and this is OK. I am setting an intention to live a spontaneous life. Unfortunately, to learn this very important lesson, all my attachments were destroyed and I lost the people I loved most in my life to reach this realization. I am the one who did it, not Kali. Kali only wanted to be loved and embraced fully and bring awareness to my own demons.

I am setting the intention to stop fighting with Kali but rather dance with her.

dance of Kali and Shiva

Women (or men): do you recognize the Kali energy in you? How does it manifest?

Men (or women): how do you respond to Kali energy in your partners? What are your fears associated with this expression?

One thousand and one nights with Teal

Please subscribe to Coach Vaillant newsletter for new exclusive content

GoingSeparateDirectionsA couple of years ago, when I fell in love with Teal, I would have given up everything to spend one day with her. My deepest wish was fulfilled and I was not granted one day but one thousand and one. However, unlike Schahriar and Sheherazade who sealed their union for eternity after one thousand and one nights, Teal and I are now separating and taking a different path. Destiny feels cruel when you are asked to leave the woman you love. There is nowhere to go but to the God within us to start healing, and ask for guidance for the rest of our journey here on earth.

As I start mending my broken heart, feelings of gratitude emerge. I never loved anyone as much as Teal and I was never loved by anyone as much as she did. A life without love is not worth living, and for this alone my life mattered. My memories with her will be mine forever and this is teaching me one more time to never take anyone for granted. She is a gorgeous woman but her heart is even more beautiful that her physical appearance. We lived our passion to the fullest during the time we were together. Just looking at her always brought smile to my face as I saw her as the most exquisite thing on this planet. I have gained so much during the 33 months we were together. Actually, these 33 months feel more like 33 years. First, she cracked me open and forced me into my authenticity after living a codependent life. This blessing would however make me lose the woman I love as it surfaced some incompatibilities we were not able to work through. As she could see inside of me, she supported me to get back to optimal health as I lost 30 pounds and I have never felt as healthy as today. I became vegetarian and sensitive to animal cruelty thanks to her. Previously, I had wanted to become vegetarian but was never able to make the transition. I loved her spontaneity, her vibrancy and aliveness. These are qualities I want to develop very much in myself. Teal is remarkably intelligent and she has also an amazing ability to articulate her thoughts in a way that is easily understandable. I learned so much with her in so many aspects of life. I now see and understand the world differently. She always has fun facts about anything. She is an encyclopedia in herself. She helped me transition from a human doing to a human being and reconnect to the important things of life. She actually set me back on my path. I also learned a lot from all of our struggles. Both of us are deeply introspective and that allowed us to gain wisdom from the difficulties we experienced.

Our break-up is so difficult not because we stopped loving each other but because we still love each other though we understand we have to take a different road. During this time of grieving, we are asking every one of you to be sensitive to our pain to make our healing easier. Un-pairing with someone we love deeply is one of most difficult experience in this earthy existence. When we fall in love, the beloved reflects to us the parts of us to develop. She showed me my light, my potential and my capacity to love. Now that my most magnificent mirror is going away, I am only left to actualize these qualities within myself.

We all go through difficult times in love relationships, and we have a tendency to lose sight of the all the exquisite moments we shared together. For this reason, I would like to share many beautiful memories that are still held preciously in my heart.

View this post on Instagram

Hiking in Zion #alegicqueau #zion #utah #tealswan

A post shared by Coach Vaillant (@coachvaillant) on