This blog is published in BODY MIND SPIRIT
3 part series of the dysfunctional dance between co-dependents and borderlines
Part II – Understanding and Loving the Borderline
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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 🙂
My mother was raised in the French foster system. My father was a product of the Second World War and only reconnected with his mum when he was 10. As a result, they suffered from severe attachment trauma and shame. She was a discouraged borderline struggling with depression and he was a codependent that lost his ability to feel. Because my father was mostly absent, I was parentified and developed a fusional relationship with my mother. Both my sister and I could not receive in this family environment the emotional nurturing we needed to develop secure attachment. I coped by being the best at school and in general the best boy possible so I became the Golden Child and started building strong codependent tendencies. My sister struggled to cope in this family environment and became the Scapegoat and started developing borderline tendencies. When I was 9, our parents divorced. Mum could not cope anymore with the emotional unavailability of dad, and left overnight leaving both my sister and me behind to live with her new companion. She was clumsy in explaining to us her departure. At that point in my life, my mum was everything. She was a stay-at-home, we spent a lot of time together and I was meant to fill the emotional void my dad had left. We had a fusional relationship. While it is natural for a 9 year old to be dependent upon his mother, my dependency was even more pronounced, as she was so afraid of being alone. To make it worse, when she ran away, I was left with an emotionally unavailable father. My new stepmother was a petulant borderline. As a codependent, my dad needed to appear as the good guy so played sides instead of fighting for inclusion. As a result, she saw us as a clear threat to her relationship to our dad. This led to a second abandonment where my dad gave us away back to my mum and we hardly saw him after that. This second abandonment was very hard on me as I asked my dad to stay with him. Though he was an absent father, I had developed an intense fear around my mum unpredictability so felt safer to stay with him at the time instead of going back to mum. But he just gave me back to mum without even giving to us an explanation. As a result, my child self developed the core belief of being “bad”, in fact “very bad” for parents not wanting to be with me. And shortly after being reunited with mum, both sets of parents had a baby son. This reinforced how bad we had to be that we needed to be replaced. My goal in sharing this story is not to throw my parents under the bus as I have repeated myself many of their mistakes but to share with the readers how attachment traumas are created.
I coped with the deep core belief of being so bad by becoming a hyper-achiever. I had a bright mind and used it to my advantage to bury my core shame of being unlovable so that my achievements could give me the positive attention I was desperately craving for. To cope with my attachment trauma, all my focus turned into the goal of being admitted to Ecole Polytechnique, the most prestigious engineering school of France. To reach that goal, I worked insanely for the 2 years after high school. I would study until 12:30 AM every night and only give myself Saturday afternoon to bike in the Cote d’Azur countryside. As it was a national exam, I was competing with the brightest and most hard-working students in my age category in France. I became interested in the occult as a short cut to become super smart as I felt being the best was the only way I could be loved. Actually many kids today that are fascinated by the Marvel super hero movies and comics feel very powerless and out of control as they feel unlovable in their present state. I ended up not making it to Ecole Polytechnique but to the second best engineering school of France Ecole Centrale Paris, which was an excellent achievement. While I thought reaching my goal would bring me happiness, the opposite happened. I had lost the goal that was distracting me from my misery. I felt distressed and I could not explain why. I did not feel I belonged anywhere. I started drinking heavily and my connection with women was limited to meaningless one-night stands. I started developing a profound disgust to myself. I had read lots of books from Osho Rajneesh (see documentary Wild Wild West on Netflix) and I enjoyed very much his provocative insights, vast knowledge and wisdom. One day, when I felt particularly miserable and was looking for an answer, I drew a card from his tarot deck. It was the Master card, the 79th card in Osho’s tarot deck. I interpreted the meaning of this card that I had to find a master because I felt so stuck. Awakening felt like the answer to my suffering. An occult group in Paris was leaving bookmarks in Osho Rajneesh books. It was called The Fellowship of Friends that proclaimed to be a fourth way school following the teaching of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky, two famous Russian mystics. Osho spoke frequently of Gurdjieff in his books. I contacted them and after three prospective meetings, I was determined to join to put an end to my misery and isolation.
At first, my experience in the cult was exhilarating. I felt an intense sense of belonging, I was given a new meaning for my life, I was surrounded with many smart, mature and wise people, my mind was stimulated by new and fascinating esoteric knowledge, my ego was gratified by feeling among the chosen ones and having a direct connection to God (called Influence C in that group), I was developing deeper connections with people and my life became full of new exciting experiences and adventures. Being in a cult at that time was actually an improvement to my state compared to the powerlessness, isolation, addiction and depression that I had been struggling with. Actually, a lot of people go from substance or sexual addiction to becoming fundamentalist newborn Christians, this is actually an improvement too. There is a reason why the 12-step program is so religious.
If you want to better understand the type of cult I joined, you may be interested to watch the documentary Holy Hell on Netflix. Both my cult leader Robert Earl Burton and Michel Rostand in Holy Hell are megalomaniac and homosexual predators. They believe they are fully awakened. They are highly manipulative and believe that it is an honor to be used by them. They are very authoritative and exercise full control over the life of their members. Robert’s group the fellowship of friends was a bit larger than Michel’s as it reached over 3,000 members at its prime time. Robert demanded 10% of every member income, sex from any male member he found attractive (most of them being heterosexual and having no interest to have sex with a man) and compliance to his instructions as he saw himself more evolved than Christ himself.
In most cases unfortunately, a guru/disciple relationship is nothing else than a narcissist/co-dependent relationship. It is a dysfunctional relationship where needs are met in ways that are destructive, manipulative and covert. What is the dynamic of this dysfunctional relationship? Because of their attachment traumas, the co-dependents have developed core shame and believe they are bad and as a result, there are unable to see their own light. They have disown their light and their guru has disowned his shadow. The relationship that they are developing with a narcissistic guru will then reflect their unworthiness and they are therefore a perfect match to their cult leader because of their core belief of being bad. The codependents are attracted to the charm, boldness, confidence and domineering personality of the narcissist. The codependents reflexively give up their power; since the narcissist thrives on control and power, there is an intense attraction between them. The narcissist guru find recruits who lack self-worth, confidence and who have low self-esteem — codependents. Through smart manipulation the narcissist leader is able to conceal his lower motives and maintain an unsullied reputation—at least in the beginning. They are often highly intelligent, possess esoteric information that is very attractive to their followers, and are well aware of mind control techniques. Most use the technique of undermining the follower’s sense of self by subtle criticism or exposing personally embarrassing situations to trigger their core shame—all this in the name assisting the person to transcend ego. They establish their superiority over their followers by claiming super powers that cannot be verified. For example, Robert would claim “I have fully developed higher centers”, “I live in a pure state of presence & being”, “I am omnipresent, omniscient and omnipotent”. Anyone questioning the claims of the guru is shamed for lacking faith, devotion or is seen as disruptive for the group cohesion. Because co-dependents have such fear of abandonment, they typically err on the safe side by unconditionally siding with the guru’s views with the rest of the followers. Over time, even as the disciples become aware of the guru abuse, they look the other way, as they understand that the cult leader owns the relationships in the group and any opposition would mean ex-communication, which is perceived as the worst possible punishment for people with abandonment traumas. Once we have accepted the cult as our family, we are stuck. There is another important reason why it is so difficult to leave these dangerous cults. We have disowned our relationship to our Creator, God or Source and believed we are dependent on the group and the cult leader to access it. Leaving the group is then associated with cutting our connection to the divine, which is a deeply entrenched fear in humans. We have been controlled for millenniums by the fear of rotting in hell for eternity. When I announced my departure of the cult to Robert in 1996, he warned me that I would lose my connection to “Influence C” (i.e. God). At the end, I only lost my connection to a demon 😉
I had made the Fellowship of Friends my family, I was part of the cult inner circle, I had adopted the cult beliefs and language, I had very little connection with my blood family. So how was I able to leave it when I was only 23 confronting the cult leader Robert Earl Burton on my last day while so many other more mature, smarter and experienced members stayed stuck there for so many years?
- First, I stayed in contact with a French healer Jacques who I intuitively felt had many more spiritual abilities than my guru who claimed to be God on earth. He helped my deprogramming in smart and subtle ways.
- I was not completely dependent on the group as I just started a programmer job in Silicon Valley.
- I rented a room in a house with an individual that had his own teacher Elias De Mohan, a remarkably psychic man that was not cultish. This again challenged Robert’s claim that he was the most conscious being on earth.
- After attending so many Robert’s events, he looked like a parrot repeating the same thing over and over again so I did not feel I was learning anything new anymore.
- The cult organization destroyed my relationship with a woman I was deeply in love with and built resentment toward the cult as a result.
- I understood how wasteful Robert was with money and I did not want him to do this with 10% of my income now that I had a good job.
- However, I think the biggest factor came from my own attachment trauma. I had lost my family already when I was a kid and knew I could survive it. Or maybe subconsciously, I wanted to re-experience the pain of losing my family again for healing purpose. In any case, my own trauma benefited me in this situation.
Most of my friends in the cult ended up only leaving the cult 13 years later after all the abuse was made public through this public blog.
In summary, here is what the cult member gets from the transaction:
- The cult member gets his core belief of being unlovable, bad and unworthy validated, replaying childhood attachment trauma. Many co-dependents have learned that they only get loved by being down on themselves and making the other better than they are
- The cult member gets belonging & connection with like-minded individuals. He gets a new family (with conditional love)
- The cult members gets to experience the divine and higher part of them that they have disowned through the guru
- The cult member gets a sense of (false) security through the guru self-confidence, assertiveness, and views on the meaning of life that are simple to understand
- The cult member gets new goals and activities so that he does not have to face his own inner turmoil and demons anymore. He is given a new direction that prevents him to dwell more on his/her own misery so feels better as a result. Actually, many of these activities allow the individual to develop his creativity far more than what he was doing in the past. The caveat is that the guru is the one benefiting financially for the disciple newfound creativity, not the individual
These benefits provide enough value to the disciple that they will often surrender their free will, financial resources and even their own body to the leader. Disappointment with the leader, acknowledgement of the abuse will eventually force the follower to re-own his own power and needs, stand on his own feet to live his own life, a more authentic life. At this stage, the follower feels angry, betrayed and intense grief. What was heaven now seems hell. Eventually, they will need to digest this experience in more objective terms for true healing to take place. They feel like a victim but eventually needs to own how their own attachment traumas played a role to be a match to this experience. They will able to take responsibility for joining a cult and forgiving themselves for doing so. Actually, many people are able to create fulfilling and successful lives after a cult experience if they can learn all the lessons that came with it.
Paradoxically, cult leaders hold often even more core shame than their followers. Their shame is so repressed that they can only see it externally through their own disciples. We have to remember that cult leaders and followers, just like narcissists and co-dependents are simply the mirrored repressed aspects of each other. Many cult leaders are hyper achievers to cover up their own sense of inadequacy, and many have developed special abilities to maintain the illusion of personal greatness so that they would never have to face how bad they actually feel about themselves. Actually, both cult leaders and their members are in a state of dysfunctional and unhealthy dependency. The guru deals with his insecurity around that dependency by creating a large narcissistic supply of followers to ensure that his needs would always be met. It is actually harder for the guru to growth and heal as he has completely disowned his shame and buried his vulnerability. Actually, therapists see a lot of codependents but narcissists never come to their office. This is because narcissists can never admit there is something wrong with them while codependents are so good at finding fault within themselves as they have learned to get rewarded and receive love for showing their imperfection to the narcissist. All cult leaders suffered from severe trauma from their childhood that they never healed. Theo Dorpat wrote in his book “Wounded Monster” about the importance of Hitler’s (the most infamous cult leader of all times) childhood trauma to explain his destructive behaviors.
What does the cult leader gets from the transaction?
It feels alone at the top so actually the cult leader in most case does not get belonging or connection. He feels often alone and disconnected from others. They are unable to develop equal authentic relationships with others as they see the world in a hierarchical way. This is why so many cult leaders, especially if they are men, turn into sex addicts. Sex is the only way they can get the connection they desperately need. In general, the cult leader will get his followers to talk his or her love language whether it is act of service, words of affirmation, gifts, time together or touch to fill the void of their pathological loneliness. The bigger the void, the bigger the need for external adoration. The same pattern can be observed with stars and their fans, or with any narcissistic leader and their subordinates.
The leader gets tremendous energy from their followers and it typically feeds their lower shakras because of lack of purity and integrity: financial security with the first shakra, sexual gratification with the second shakra or power with the third shakra. This energy rarely reached the higher shakras because their character has been perverted: the fourth to experience pure love for their followers through service (ex. burning heart of Christ), the fifth to express it creatively, the sixth to lead with vision and the seventh to stay aligned with the rest of creation.
Ego is nothing else than the illusion of separateness. As the ego gets gratified, the identification with the ego becomes stronger and stronger and the connection with the authentic self weaker and weaker. They become sociopathic then psychopathic as their disorder develops. This means that they are able to cut their own unpleasant feelings through rationalization. As a result, they repress their own emotional pain & suffering which now become externalized in the pain & suffering of their followers that have not completely cut the connection to their heart.
Gurus are often high-functioning psychopath that display superficial charm, a grandiose sense of self, lack of remorse or empathy, lack of introspection, cunning behavior, lying, egocentricity, parasitic lifestyle, and more often than not, sexual exploitation. While their followers admire them, their psychological condition is often worse than the people they abuse. Behind close doors, they are deeply tormented and often resort to diverse addictions to shut the door of their own conscience torturing them. Their mental health is plagued with anti-social disorders, paranoia and self-hatred.
What do they need to heal? A collapse of their universe with people turning against them and keeping them accountable for their own actions. In 1996, during the third year at my cult, I went to Russia. The Soviet block had collapsed and there was a lot of interest for spirituality. I start giving there teaching dinners and running large meetings about the group teaching. The women were beautiful and I was falling in love every day. My success went to my head and I was becoming a mini-guru. The cult leader Robert Burton heard from others that I was taking too much liberty and I was reprimanded and fined at my return to the US. They crushed me and this is the best thing they could have done to downsize my ego that had got too inflated. Of course, the fact that he punished me for actions he would do himself behind people’s back did not sit too well for me and acted as a catalyst for me to leave.
Of course, not all spiritual teachers are narcissist or have dysfunctional parasitic relationship with their followers. What is most important for those seeking spiritual guidance is to keep their critical thinking alive as they approach any spiritual teacher. The questions they must ask ourselves are:
- Does this teacher walk his/her talk? Does this teacher live by the precepts he/she teaches?
- Is the teacher respectful of you? Do they automatically assume you are below them?
- Do they have a grandiose sense of self?
- Do you feel manipulated in any way by this person?
- Do they require zealous, unquestioning commitment and subservience to the leader?
- Is questioning, doubt, and dissent discouraged or even punished?
- Is the group elitist, claiming a special, exalted status for itself, its leader and members?
- Does the leadership induce feelings of shame and/or guilt in order to influence and/or control members?
- Do they encourage members to cut ties with family and friends outside the group? Are members encouraged or required to live and/or socialize only with other group members?
- Does the group use subtle maneuvers to make it difficult for you to leave? Do they punish you if you leave? Are you ostracized if you leave the group?
Once these question are answered to your satisfaction, this somewhat suspicious stance can be relinquished in order to assimilate the instruction you desire, and to create an open-hearted relationship with your spiritual teacher.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
- In the name of the Father (right hand on the forehead)
- And of the Mother (right hand on the heart)
- And of the Son (right hand on the left shoulder)
- 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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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
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.
It has become clear to me that the events of the past couple of years were meant to get me to step into my authenticity. Most of us are suffering from attachment traumas because our caregivers were not able to give us the unconditional love, reflection, emotional support, attention and availability that we needed to develop into emotionally secure human being. Why? Simply because they suffered the same traumas, and what is not healed is passed on to the next generation. These attachment traumas convert into the belief that something is wrong with us and that we are not lovable (core shame). As a result, we create masks in order to get the love that we desperately need. I have seen this subconscious pattern clearly in my love relationships over a 20-year period. The enmeshment trauma with my mum combined with the absence of my dad has created the unconscious belief that I can only be loved for what I do, the role I play and not for who I am. In this configuration, to be needed is to be loved while too much neediness is putting my inner child in a panic as it reminds this immature self of the pressure it could not handle. So here is my pattern. I fall in love with a woman, and I seduce her by projecting the image of the type of man that she wants. One was in an abusive relationship, so I became her savior. Another one was in deep spiritual search, so I became a spiritual guide. Another one was in search of financial security and status so I became a provider, a successful executive or a vice-consul. Another one needed constant external emotional regulation so I became a full-time caretaker. The trick worked in getting the woman I fell for, but there are consequences. As time passes, my partner gets to see the other parts of me and feels duped. By that time, she is however attached and committed to make the relationship work, especially as she struggles with her own abandonment traumas. Frequent arguments and constant drama are the mark of such relationships as my partner is in love with someone she is incompatible with. Her whole focus becomes about fixing me to become the person I was when I was courting her. This triggers my shame and I respond by pointing her own flaws, which triggers in turn her own shame. In my attempts to get my love relationship to work, I developed impressive skills in holding a container for someone I am not compatible with. This is truly exhausting. Stepping into authenticity, being completely open about who I am with the belief that I am lovable the way I am, is the better alternative.
To be authentic, we first have to know who we are. I am a Gemini man who is known to be the most complex sign of the zodiac. To make the matter harder, this is also a mutable sign. Now that I am in my 40s, I feel I can better define the core of who I am, and I am going to make my best attempt to describe it. I invite every one of you to do the same exercise.
Who am I?
I am curious, smart, adventurous, responsible, positive, high-energy, a free spirit, driven, loyal, flexible, resilient, complex, eccentric, daring, resourceful, spiritual, creative, perseverant, intense, self-reliant and introspective. I am a spiritual warrior, a magician, a lover and a leader. On the negative, I can be stubborn, willful and uncompromising when I have made up my mind. I am afraid of boredom. I have several splits: warm, loving and generous vs cold-hearted, kind & sweet vs insensitive, very social vs solitary, deeply intimate vs emotionally unavailable. I do not smoke, rarely drink, do not drink coffee, never take medication unless seriously sick, I am a vegetarian and believe in a healthy lifestyle. I value financial security and believe in living within your means. I believe in fairness, justice and reciprocity.
I love women and I am a sexual being. I love physical touch but I love connecting just as much through deep, introspective and interesting conversations. Sex is only appealing to me when it comes with a love connection. I love to love and to feel loved. I am very cuddly as I go to sleep and wake up in the morning but I will pull away in my sleep during the night. I love women who have embraced their darkness, sexuality and authenticity but can also be kind, motherly and protective. I love their purity of heart, spontaneity and sensitivity. I am into witches and artists. I am slightly love avoidant so I need someone who has the capacity to handle my coming and going with minimum anxiety. I am an alpha and I do not mind sharing the lead with a powerful woman as long as there is respect, reciprocity and no double standard. I enjoy nurturing from women tremendously. I like to be needed but not smothered. The times I have been the happiest in my life have been in an intimate relationship so love relationships are very important to me.
In friendship, I am loyal and I rely on my personal interactions with a person rather than other people’s opinions. I like people who are vulnerable, authentic and share their feelings openly. I prefer one-on-ones to group interactions, as I like to go deep. I like kind, complex and secure individuals where silence is just as comfortable as conversation. The security to care for each other in difficult times is important to me.
I love my teenage children, want to earn back their love to reconnect with them.
I am comfortable around crowds and I am expert at networking though I prefer more intimate gatherings.
I am an entrepreneur and a problem solver. I love starting new ventures from scratch. I need to use my mental capacities to make a difference in people’s lives. I enjoy financial independence through real estate or business. I like stretching myself and taking risk. I need an interesting career project that is outside my relationship. I like to have control over my own time. I love working from inspiration. I transform the suffering I went through, to help others going through the same ordeal using my life experience. I like philanthropic work especially for more difficult environments such as jail, hospice, orphanage, parental alienation and ritual abuse. I love that feeling to know I have made a difference in someone’s life. I want to be liked and respected in the community for my contribution. I need significance, not only vicariously by association but also for my own contribution. I like teaching, and having a leadership role.
My favorite sport is tennis and I like playing it competitively. I enjoy skiing, scuba diving, biking, hiking, camping, going to the gym and running. Though I love going to the beach, I enjoy the mountains even more. I like watching movies that are meaningful, documentaries and French movies. I like going out to restaurants and performances with my loved ones. My favorite music is transcendental, 80s pop, French and classical. I like a nice comfortable & beautiful home. I like community living for the emotional support, company, and convenience but I need to have enough one-on-one time with my beloved. I love traveling and exploring new exotic places. I like inviting people over for dinner and company. I enjoy cooking food for others as long as it is not everyday and an expectation. I like organizing weekend get-outs and vacation for my loved ones. I love the outdoors.
Meaning is important to me. I want the feeling that I have an impact and that my life is meaningful. I want a purposeful life that improves the quality of many lives. I want to live a heart-centered life. I want to awaken my subtle senses and feel so much more about life, people, animals and plants. I want to be healthy, be physically active and pain free. I like to do process work with people, to bring them to a space of new realizations and change their lives. I like process work too when I am able to get new release or understanding. I believe in balance, and in a life with eyes on the sky with feet planted solidly on the ground. I enjoy shamanic work, and accessing higher awareness to improve my life. I enjoy writing about my inner life and new understanding. My life is driven by the pursuit of happiness which is best achieved by living a heart-centered life that translates into sharing love and caring for each other, a deep connection with our Creator, simplicity, abundance and contemplation.
What a freedom and liberation to be open about who we truly are! No more need for manipulation. We stop sending mixed signals. People can decide on their own if we are the type of person they would like to know better. We prefer being alone (but not lonely) than to spend time with incompatible people. Despite all our personal flaws, we still believe we are lovable just the way we are. We create a life that feels good because it is full of the people and the things we love. We become trustworthy as we connect deeper to our core. We empower ourselves to attract into our life what we value most. Our inner peace is less disturbed by external situations, obstacles and tragedies.
Come play with me and take some time to share with the rest of us who you are too!