Sanctuary for the Abused

Friday, September 19, 2014

Narcissists & Psychopaths Cause PTSD for their Victims

by Tim Field

How do the PTSD symptoms resulting from a Narcissist or Psychopath's abuse and bullying meet the criteria in DSM-IV?

A. The prolonged (chronic) negative stress resulting from dealing with a narcissist or psychopath has lead to threat of loss of job, career, health, livelihood, often also resulting in threat to marriage and family life. The family are the unseen victims.

A.1.One of the key symptoms of prolonged negative stress is reactive depression; this causes the balance of the mind to be disturbed, leading first to thoughts of, then attempts at, and ultimately, suicide.

A.2.The target of the narcissist or psychopath may be unaware that they are being exploited, and even when they do realize (there's usually a moment of enlightenment as the person realizes that the criticisms and tactics of control, etc are invalid) - victims often cannot bring themselves to believe they are dealing with a disordered personality who lacks a conscience and does not share the same moral values as themselves.

Naivety is the great enemy. The target is bewildered, confused, frightened, angry - and after enlightenment, very angry.

B.1. The target experiences regular intrusive violent visualizations and replays of events and conversations; often, the endings of these replays are altered in favour of the target.

B.2. Sleeplessness, nightmares and replays are a common feature.

B.3. The events are constantly relived; night-time and sleep do not bring relief as it becomes impossible to switch the brain off. Such sleep as is achieved is non-restorative and people wake up as tired, and often more tired, than when they went to bed.

B.4. Fear, horror, chronic anxiety, and panic attacks are triggered by any reminder of the experience, e.g.receiving threatening letters or email from the narcissist or psychopath or their friends, their family or attorneys. Additionally postings on online boards or sites about the victim by the abuser (often to try to make the victim look like the abusive one!) can add to these triggers and health related issues tremendously.]

B.5. Panic attacks, palpitations, sweating, trembling, vomitting, binge eating or forgetting to eat, ditto.

Criteria B4 and B5 manifest themselves as immediate physical and mental paralysis in response to any reminder of the narcissist or prospect being forced to take action against the narcissist.

C. Physical numbness (toes, fingertips, lips) is common, as is emotional numbness (especially inability to feel joy). Sufferers report that their spark has gone out and, even years later, find they just cannot get motivated about anything.

C.1. The target tries harder and harder to avoid saying or doing anything which reminds them of the horror of the exploitation.

C.2. Almost all Victims report impaired memory; this may be partly due to suppressing horrific memories, and partly due to damage to the hippocampus, an area of the brain linked to learning and memory.

C.3. the person becomes obsessed with resolving the experience which takes over their life, eclipsing and excluding almost every other interest.

C.4. Feelings of withdrawal and isolation are common; the person just wants to be on their own and solitude is sought.

C.5. Emotional numbness, including inability to feel joy (anhedonia) and deadening of loving feelings towards others are commonly reported. One fears never being able to feel love again.

C.6. The target becomes very gloomy and senses a foreshortened career - usually with justification. Many targets ultimately have severe psychiatric injury, severely impaired health.

D.1. Sleep becomes almost impossible, despite the constant fatigue; such sleep as is obtained tends to be unsatisfying, unrefreshing and non-restorative. On waking, the person often feels more tired than when they went to bed. Depressive feelings are worst early in the morning. Feelings of vulnerability may be heightened overnight.

D.2. The person has an extremely short fuse and is often permanently irritated, especially by small insignificant events. The person frequently visualises a violent solution, e.g. arranging an accident for, or murdering the narcissist; the resultant feelings of guilt tend to hinder progress in recovery.

D.3. Concentration is impaired to the point of precluding preparation for legal action, study, work, or search for work.

D.4. The person is on constant alert because their fight or flight mechanism has become permanently activated.

D.5. The person has become hypersensitized and now unwittingly and inappropriately perceives almost any remark as critical.

E. Recovery from a narcissist experience is measured in years. Some people never fully recover.  Long term and repeated damage by disordered persons become C-PTSD.
F. For many, social life ceases and work becomes impossible.  Many develop autoimmune diseases such as lupus, fibromyalgia, chronic pain or adrenal fatigue and even become totally disabled.

THERAPY can and does help. But it takes a lot of time and work.  The longer you wait to get help & treatment, the deeper the damage and the more difficult to heal or manage.  Hang in there!

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Thursday, September 18, 2014

6 Stages of Leaving an Abusive Relationship

After leaving an abuser Pictures, Images and Photos

(could take years or weeks - no time frame)

1. Managing the Situation
The point at which abuse/violence is first experienced is a crisis for the relationship,and although some women end relationships at this point, the majority do not. They find, or accept, an explanation for the incident which allows for a future. They develop strategies to manage the situation and incidents of abuse.

2. Distortion of Perspective/Reality
Gradually more and more of a woman's daily life and thought processes are affected by abuse/violence. Managing anxiety, trying to make sense of why, takes up her energy and attention. Answering why often involves her taking responsibility. Coping is increasingly focused on trying to do and not do certain things, or defiantly acting certain ways knowing the consequences. Either approach means repeated abuse can be understood "by herself and others" as yet again her responsibility.

3. Defining abuse
It is often only after a number of assaults or abusive incidents, that women define the abuse as abuse/violence. This is not just about using the word abuse/violence, but seeing herself as someone being victimised and the man as someone who is an abuser. For this to occur some level of responsibility has to be placed with the abuser and events understood as a recurring feature. (Abuse can be emotional, sexual, verbal or financial)

4. Re-evaluating the Relationship
Once the relationship is understood as one in which abuse/violence occurs a re-evaluation process begins. Decisions take place in a changed context of meaning. The possibility of leaving temporarily or permanently, of engaging processes to contain violence, becomes easier to contemplate.

5. Ending the Relationship
Most women make many attempts to end abusive/violent relationships and the reasons for returning include believing his promises to change, the absence of acceptable practical alternatives, pressure from others, the absence of effective protection.

6. Ending the Violence
Contrary to popular myth, ending a relationship does not always ensure the violence ends, it may in fact place women at greater risk of serious, and even fatal assault.


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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Psychopathic VS Narcissistic Personality

by Nancy McWilliams, page 166

"Finally, there is a very close connection between psychopathic and narcissistic conditions. Both character types reflect a subjectively empty internal world and a dependence on external events to provide self-esteem. Some theorists (Kernberg, 1975; Meloy, 1988) put psychopathy and narcissism on one dimension, characterized overall as narcissistic; the psychopath is considered as on the pathological end of the narcissistic continuum. I would argue that antisocial and narcissistic people are different enough to warrant a continuum for each. Most sociopathic people do not idealize repetitively, and most narcissistic ones do not depend on omnipotent control. But many people have aspects of both character types, and self-inflation can characterize either one.

"Because treatment considerations are quite different for the two groups (e.g., sympathetic mirroring comforts most narcissistic people but antagonizes antisocial ones) despite the things they have in common and the number of people who have aspects of each orientation, it seems to me more useful to differentiate carefully between them."

The initial murder of the serial murderer may reflect a "new identity." The pathological object-relations of narcissism and the malignant narcissism are important diagnostic indicators in the personality functioning of serial killers and the occurrence of these phenomena is a significant factor in the formation of the personalities of serial killers, their inner motivations, and their pattern of commission.

From Abstract: Child serial murder-psychodynamics: closely watched shadows.

J Am Acad Psychoanal 2001 Summer;29(2):331-8 (Turco, R.)

The key to understanding possession, says Meloy, is narcissism. "We know from the research that psychopaths have a core, aggressive narcissism that is fundamental to their personality. If you remove that narcissism, you don't have a psychopath."
Forensic psychologist J. Reid Meloy, author of a standard text on deviant criminal behavior, "The Psychopathic Mind."

Know what you are dealing with. This sounds easy but in fact can be very difficult. All the reading in the world cannot immunize you from the devastating effects of psychopaths. Everyone, including the experts, can be taken in, conned, and left bewildered by them. A good psychopath can play a concerto on anyone's heart strings.

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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Emotional Abuse or Going Crazy?

The blows of physical or sexual abuse are oftentimes obvious. Broken bones, bruises, and lacerations leave scars as evidence. Yet worst of all are the scars of emotional abuse - nearly invisible to the naked eye. Unfortunately, these can be more caustic, long-lasting, and life-altering than those left by any other type of abuse and the psychological damage the most profound.

What is emotional abuse? Sometimes called "Ambient Abuse," it is an extremely subtle form of control and manipulation that may go unrecognized for months or years -- many times even by those on the receiving end -- at least until it is too late. By the time the victim is aware of the actual abusive behaviors, she has oftentimes become a bundle of nerves and finds it difficult to see her way off the emotional roller coaster ride she's stuck on. Worse yet, she can't even explain what's happening to her, and in some cases, she may actually think she is going crazy; struggling with anxiety, depression, fear, or eventually -- apathy. She may quit doing anything, for fear of doing it "wrong" - at least according to the controller in her life.

Abusers and controllers may start out using little digs like, "Honey, everyone knows that you do it this way," as just another way to say, "How stupid are you that you don't know this?"

Constant criticism becomes part of the game. "You are too fat, dumb, ugly," or even, "I wish I had that abortion instead of having you!" These are all ammunition in emotional abuse.

Even teasing can be abusive, for it frequently has some truth at its core. Jane lives in a marriage where her husband's teasing-type cuts are constant. "The Ayatollah says dinner is ready," he announces regularly whenever they have guests. He thinks it's funny. She certainly doesn't. And what are we, the guests supposed to think -- that he is paying her a compliment? Absolutely not. I don't care how much he smiles or laughs when he throws it out there -- it is meant to wound. And she knows it. And he knows that she knows it.

Emotional abuse may take the form of the controller limiting the "victim's" outside contacts. "You don't need anybody but me," he may remind you constantly, and can actually get angry if you spend time with your friends or family, even on the phone. The more he can lock you away from your external support systems, the more he locks you in his boxx of control.

Deanna's husband tells her what time she can go to bed, what she is allowed to eat, and just how long she'd better be gone when she goes out to do errands. He never gives her a birthday or Christmas gift. He threatens to kill her and hide her car if she doesn't obey him. He makes her recite each day that she is worthless -- that he will tell her what she is worth, what she can and can't do, and who she is allowed to see when. This is obviously extreme emotional abuse.

Unfortunately, all these situations may seem extremely difficult to escape for the victim. The brainwashing of weeks, months, and years of constant demeaning remarks are meant to make her feel worthless and as though no one else in the world could love her. Thus, her fear of leaving exceeds the fear of staying, and even worse -- many times she blames herself for all that is wrong. Guilt becomes her constant companion. Leaving seems impossible. And besides, it's "not that bad." For if it were, there would certainly be broken bones to prove it. Or so she believes.

If you find yourself trapped in the boxx of emotional abuse, it's important to know you CAN escape! The long-term emotional damage caused by this type of situation will affect your physical as well as your mental health -- and that of your children. While there may not be laws protecting you from the constant verbal attacks, you do have the ability to recognize it for what it is -- definitely NOT something that goes hand-in-hand with a loving relationship. Furthermore, teaching your children that this is an acceptable behavior only leads them to believe that emotional abuse is an acceptable part of a normal relationship. Would you wish this for your child? Or your grandchild?

Mary Jo Fay is a speaker and writer. http://


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Monday, September 15, 2014

Manipulative Relationships: Are You In One?

We are all vulnerable to being manipulated in relationships, whether between romantic partners, friends, parents, children, employers, coworkers, or neighbors. When we allow another person to manipulate us, we are colluding with their desire to control our feelings, motives, and even our thoughts through deceptive, exploitative, and unfair means. A manipulative relationship is one-sided and unbalanced, advancing the goals of the manipulator at the expense of the person being manipulated. These relationships become troubled over time. If you want to change this kind of relationship, you must first recognize the features of manipulation and then look within to understand your contribution to the manipulation. There are effective ways to stand up to manipulation and bring balance back into the relationship.

Manipulation is not the same as influence. We all use influence with other people to advance our goals, and this is one of the hallmarks of healthy social functioning. Influence recognizes the rights and boundaries of other people, and it is based on direct, honest communication. Influence is one way we have of functioning effectively in the world. Influence recognizes the integrity of the other person, including the right not to go along with the attempted persuasion. Manipulation, on the other hand, depends on covert agendas and an attempt to coerce another person into giving in. Even though it may appear that the manipulator is strong and in control, there is usually insecurity under the facade. The tendency to exploit others and disregard their rights is a sign of unhealthy personality functioning. In fact, people who manipulate others have difficulty in maintaining good interpersonal relationships.

Those who manipulate other people are good at spotting people to control. If they feel unable to manipulate someone, they usually give up and move on to somebody else who is more likely to be receptive to the attempted manipulation. Once you recognize the features of the manipulation, the next step in correcting the situation is to discover your own contribution to the problem. (This statement may seem a bit difficult to accept. After all, it's the manipulator who has the problem, you might say. But realize that manipulation cannot occur in a vacuum. As is true of any relationship, it takes two people.) You can come to understand your contribution to the manipulative situation and then take steps to correct it.

Here are some common traits of those who are vulnerable to manipulators -

You feel useful and loved only when you can take care of the needs of other people. This goes beyond being nice to other people. Your sense of worth is tied up in doing things for other people. In fact, you take this so far that you please other people at the expense of your own well-being. For example, you might buy something especially nice for your partner or a friend when you would never spend that kind of money on yourself. Manipulators are drawn to this type of person and have no qualms about taking advantage of this particular personality trait.

You need to have the approval and acceptance of other people. Although most people appreciate being accepted, a problem occurs when you feel that you must be accepted by everyone at all times. The core problem here is the fear of being rejected or abandoned - and it is so strong that you would do anything to avoid the feelings associated with this fear. The manipulator works by giving you the acceptance that you need - and then threatening to withdraw it.

You fear expressing negative emotions. Although expressing anger and engaging in a conflict are never pleasant, some people will go to any length to avoid a confrontation. They want things to be pleasant at all times. They fear that they will fall apart in the face of negative emotions. Manipulators have an easy task in this kind of relationship - all they have to do is to threaten to raise their voice, and then they get their way.

You are unable to say no. One of the characteristics of a healthy relationship is appropriate boundaries that clarify who you are and what you stand for. In order to maintain healthy boundaries, however, you must sometimes say no when someone attempts to push your limits. If you are afraid of the conflict that may arise when you say no, you play into the hands of the manipulator. Learning effective assertiveness techniques is a way to regain your sense of control in a manipulative relationship.

You lack a firm sense of your own self. A clear sense of self means that you know what your values are, who you are, what you stand for, and where you begin and the other person ends. If you have an unclear sense of self, it is difficult to trust your own judgment or to make decisions that work in your favor. Without a clear definition of your self, you may be an easy target for a manipulator.

If you are in a manipulative relationship, it is helpful to recognize the personal tendencies that allow the other person to assert control over you. You can come to understand and explore these safely with the support of a professionally trained therapist. While you may not be able to change the behavior of the manipulator, you can change your own responses to attempts at manipulation so that you achieve a firmer sense of your own integrity. The unhappiness resulting from a manipulative relationship can lead to life-changing experiences that generate insight and the ability to cope more effectively with the demands of everyday living.


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Sunday, September 14, 2014



This information about crazy making is from the out of print book Stop! You're Driving Me Crazy! by Dr. George R. Bach. It fortunately has surfaced again and can be purchased as a used book for a small price at

This is a coping method people use when they are afraid of rejection or confrontation. This results when our rights are not respected or honored. It is based on four basic rights: THE RIGHT TO KNOW, THE RIGHT TO FEEL, THE RIGHT TO HAVE IMPACT and THE RIGHT TO SPACE.

The ways that RIGHT TO KNOW are violated are when we are not given clear information as in underloading, overloading and fogging. In underloading they give us too little information so we are off balance and have shaky confidence about what we are learning to do or the person has left and it is only after they're gone that we realize we don't know anymore than before we asked them the question. At these times it requires the receiver of the information to assume or draw conclusions about the meaning of the incomplete information. This is also a time when mindreading comes into play. In order to survive this walking on eggshells the receiver of the message or silent treatment must use past references to know what the sender of the message might intend. In overloading it is just the opposite problem. The sender gives us too much information and we are in a confused state and a put off balance. We feel so defeated that we do not have the courage to set any boundaries or express any needs for clearer information.

THE RIGHT TO FEEL is violated when we are told how we are feeling i.e. "You're angry aren't you." or how we are going to feel or react i.e. "You're not going to like what I have to say." Or if we are given the message not to feel i.e. "Don't be angry" or "Don't cry". Or we are told what we should or shouldn't be feeling. i.e. "You don't really hate him or her, you just think you do" or You shouldn't feel that way about them.'

THE RIGHT TO IMPACT is where our insanity really shows up. It triggers so many old messages i.e. "You're not important, you're needs are important." And if we played the role of the LOST CHILD it just reinforces our sense of powerlessness and invisibility. We need to have assurance that we exist, that our existence makes a difference to people and situations. We know of our existence when we have IMPACT on others. One thing that really gets to us is when others claim to misinterpret or pick apart what we said in order not to have to comply with our request.

Thinging or objectifying is another way that they treat us as an objects as if we are only a piece of furniture in the room. They can be pictured putting their hand up to their ear and saying "Did I hear someone talking, is there someone else in the room?" COVERTLY HOSTILE or what ? Context-switching and derailing are great avoidance tactics. When you are confronting them on something they did or attempting to set boundaries, they switch the whole focus back to you, and thus put you on the defensive. Now the focus is on you and they slither away. This gets you way off derail track and off balance right where they want you--derailed. Clever huh, unless you are on the receiving end of this CRAZY MAKING. Role-playing is another very common way in which one or both parties avoids asserting themselves. This way the person can hide behind the role they see as the most comfortable, safe and powerful. i.e. referring to yourself as "Mommy" or "Daddy" "Mommy wants you to go to bed" Daddy wants you to come to the table." Or I'm the "boss" I'm the cook--he wife--the husband etc.etc. In this way the other person is put in a position where they almost need to respond in the "subservient" or weak or less powerful position or role i.e. the child, the worker, employer, the hungry one etc.etc.

The final CRAZY MAKING technique is to violate the RIGHT TO SPACE. This right can be violated in so many ways i.e. emotional, time, mental, physical. Without this right being respected we can lose perspective very rapidly and literally feel like we are going crazy. In setting boundaries we set ourselves against the others. It seems that when I am setting boundaries for myself I am violating another's perceived rights i.e. My right to have the radio volume up is a violation to right to have the volume down. My right to deny your request interrupts your right to make a request. It is almost always very MESSY. But our surrender of SPACE is a surrender of our SANITY.


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Saturday, September 13, 2014

Emotional Boundaries in Relationships

A successful relationship is composed of two individuals each with a clearly defined sense of her or his own identity. Without our own understanding of self, of who we are and what makes us unique, it is difficult to engage in the process of an ongoing relationship in a way that is functional and though not always smooth is a safe environment that generally enhances each of the partners. We need a clear sense of self in order to clearly and unambiguously communicate our needs and desires to our partner. When we have a strong conception of our own identity, we do not feel threatened by the intimacy of the relationship and can appreciate and love those qualities in our partner that make him or her a unique person. When two people come together, each with a clear definition of her or his own individuality, the potential for intimacy and commitment can be astounding. The similarities between two people may bring them together, but in an ideal partnership, sometimes called interdependent, their differences are respected and contribute to the growth of their relationship which aids in the growth of the individuals in that relationship.

One feature of a healthy sense of self is the way we understand and work with our emotional boundaries. Personal boundaries are the limits we set in relationships that allow us to protect our selves from being manipulated by, or enmeshed with, emotionally needy others. Such boundaries come from having a good sense of our own self-worth. They make it possible for us to separate our own thoughts and feelings from those of others and to take responsibility for what we think, feel and do. Boundaries are part of the biological imperative of maturation as we individuate and become adult people in our own right. We are, all of us unique, and boundaries allow us to rejoice in our own uniqueness. Healthy intact boundaries are flexible, they allow us to get close to others when it is appropriate and to maintain our distance when we might be harmed by getting too close. Good boundaries protect us from becoming engulfed in abusive relationships and pave the way to achieving true intimacy the flipside of independence, as we grow to interdependence the relationship of two mature individuals. They help us take care of ourselves and if we can receive it, to respect the selves of others.

Unhealthy boundaries are generally as a result of being raised in dysfunctional families where maturation and the individuation process was not properly understood nor the child respected as an individual. In these types of families the unmet needs of parents or other adults are sometimes so overwhelming that the task of raising children is demoted to a secondary role, and dysfunction is the likely result. Consider the role of the father or mother who screams at his/her children or becomes physically, verbally or emotionally abusive with them as a self-centred way of dealing with his/her own stored up anger/grief from their own traumatic childhood. The emotional fallout of these unmet developmental needs, which, depending on the severity of the original pain, is often close to the surface and can be triggered by totally unrelated present circumstances. The pain of their own childhood experiences repressed for so long is felt again, insisting that these experiences be dealt with, relegating the present needs of the children for safety, security, respect and comfort to second place at best. But sometimes because of what they represent and the negative self worth of the parent the child can be perceived as the 'enemy' and so dysfunction is passed on from one generation to the next. This is not to say that the childhood experiences of the parent were necessarily horribly abusive, it is just that what may have been acceptable parenting practices in their family of origin for generations were abusive. More often than not these practices and their underlying attitudes were based on false or abusive religio-cultural premises. What the children are likely to learn in this situation is that boundaries don't matter, that indeed they, as individual human beings, don't matter except where they are useful for the emotional needs of others. As they grow up in their families of origin, they lack the support they need from parents or caregivers to form a healthy sense of their own identities. their own individuality. In fact, they may learn that to get their needs met they must get their way with others. To do this they need to intrude on the emotional boundaries of other people just as their father or mother may have done. They would in all likelihood grow up with fluid boundaries, that cause them to swing between feelings of engulfment on the one hand and abandonment on the other inevitably leading to dysfunctional relationships later on in life. They would have at best, a hazy sense of their own personal boundaries, not able to properly define where they end and the other begins. Conversely, they may learn that rigid and inflexible boundaries might be the way to handle their relationships with other people. They wall themselves off in their relationships as a way of protecting their emotional selves, and, as a consequence, will, in all likelihood find it difficult to form lasting close interpersonal bonds with others in adulthood as they are still trying to individuate from their parents. The exception in this is of relationships predicated on the same rigid rule based structure as their family of origin where nothing came into the family or out from it, but in this case the bond is likely to be enmeshment.

The following are some ways in which unhealthy boundaries may show themselves in our relationships, along with some remedies:

Lack of a Sense of Identity

When we lack a sense of our own identity and the boundaries of the self that protect and define us as individuals, we tend to draw our identities, our sense of self worth from our partner or significant other as we did in the earliest stage of our biological growth in our family of origin, drawing our sense of worth from their perceptions of us. The structure of the relationship in this case is not that of equals in a partnership but that of parent and child. Leading in some cases to that most unequal of relationships, master and slave. It is quite possible that children developing in a family where the important relationship of the parents is an unequal one will be forced to take on roles as either surrogate spouse and/or adopt roles that it is hoped will restore dignity to the family and balance to the system. If we can't imagine who we would be without our relationship, chances are we come from a dysfunctional family of origin and have learned co-dependent behaviour patterns. Unable to find fulfilment within ourselves we look for such fulfilment in others and are willing to do anything it takes to make the relationship work, just as we may have done in our enmeshed family of origin, even if this means giving up our emotional security, friends, integrity, sense of self-respect or worth, independence, or employment. We may even endure objectification, (an attitude in which we are no longer perceived as feeling human-being but just an object, a part of the family system), in the form of physical, emotional or sexual abuse just to save the relationship.

The more rational alternative is to find out who we are and what makes us unique, and we will rejoice in the freedom of this discovery. We will come to realise that our value and worth as a person is not necessarily dependent on having a significant other in our life, that we can function well as an independent person in our own right. When we move into accepting ourselves for who we really are warts and all, we will be able to accept others for who they are; our relationships and ourselves will actually have a chance to grow into emotionally mature adults able to give freely out of choice and flourish in our new found freedom. This journey of self-discovery can be challenging and painful but highly rewarding. Working with a trained therapist or as part of a support group or a combination of both can provide the structure and support we need to take on this task. But whatever way we may choose the first step is to acknowledge to ourselves, God and possibly another person that our lives as we have tried to control and manage them have become unmanageable. The second is to give ourselves over to the cleansing and renewal processes.

Settling for Second Best

We may cling to the irrational belief that things are good enough as they are, we feel a measure of security in the relationship, that change is a difficult and fearful prospect, or that we don't deserve any better, our life has always been a sacrifice of the self, and that this is as good as it's likely to get. In the process, however, we give up the chance to be the person we were meant to be and to explore our sense of personal fulfilment in life. We give up not only our own life dreams but our sense of worth in order to maintain the security of a relationship.

A healthy relationship is one in which boundaries are not only strong, but flexible enough, to allow us to flourish with our own uniqueness, but are also known to and respected by each other. There is a sense of respect on the part of both partners that allows each to live as full a life as possible and to explore their own personal potential. We don't have to give up ourselves for a relationship but can become interdependent. Healthy boundaries allow trust and security to develop in a relationship because they offer an honest and reliable framework by which we can know each other. But if we don't know where our self ends and the other begins it is impossible.

Over-Responsibility and Guilt

One characteristic of growing up in a dysfunctional household is that we may learn to feel guilty if we fail to ensure the success and happiness of other members of the household. We may feel responsible or be made to feel responsible for the failure or unhappiness of others. Thus, in adulthood, we may come to feel or be made to feel responsible for our partner's failures. The guilt we feel when our partner fails may drive us to keep tearing down our personal boundaries so that we are always available to the other person. When we feel the pain, the guilt, the anger of being overly responsible for another person's behaviour or life experiences, we may seek alleviate this feeling by rescuing them from the consequences of their behaviour as we learned in our family of origin. Thereby depriving them of one of the most important features of an independent, healthy and mature life, the ability to make our own life choices, accepting the responsibility for and the consequences of our/their decisions. Or we may bear the burden of their unacceptable behaviour for many years.

A healthier response is to show our partners respect by allowing them to succeed or fail on their own terms. You, of course, may choose to support your partner's fulfilment of life goals but it is unhealthy to rescue them from all of life's consequences. When you do agree to help ask yourself two questions is it something they can do for themselves? and, do I resent the giving of my own resources (self, time, money, etc.)? This may be a difficult choice if we have confused love with rescue. You can be there to comfort or encourage your partner when times become difficult, and you can rejoice with them when success is the outcome. When boundaries are healthy, you are able to say, I trust and respect you to make your own life choices. As my equal partner, I will not try to control you by taking away your choices in life.

The Difference Between Love and Rescue

People who grow up in a dysfunctional family may fail to learn the difference between love and sympathy. Children growing up in these conditions may learn to have sympathy for the emotional crippling in their parents lives and feel that the only time they get attention is when they show compassion for the parent. They feel that when they forgive, they are showing love. Actually, they are rescuing the parent and enabling abusive behaviour to continue. They learn to give up their own protective boundaries in order to take care of the dysfunctioning parent, becoming a surrogate co-dependent spouse. In adulthood, they carry these learned behaviours into their own relationships. If they can rescue their partner from the consequences of their behaviour, they feel that they are showing love. They get a warm, caring, sharing feeling from helping their partner, a feeling they call love. But this may actually encourage their partner to become needy and helpless enabling the negative behaviour to continue. An imbalance can then occur in the relationship in which one partner becomes the rescuer or enabler and the other plays the role of the helpless victim. In this case, healthy boundaries which allow both partners to live complete lives are absent. Mature love requires the presence of healthy, flexible boundaries.

Sympathy and compassion are worthy qualities, but they can be confused with love, especially when boundaries have become distorted or are virtually non existent. Healthy boundaries lead to respect for the other and equality in a relationship, an appreciation for the aliveness and strength of the other person, and a mutual flow of feelings between the two partners, all features of mature love. When one partner is in control and the other is needy and helpless, there is no room for the give-and-take of a healthy relationship.

Fantasy vs. Reality

Children from highly dysfunctional households often feel that things will get better someday, that a 'normal' life may lie in the future. Indeed, some days things are fairly 'normal', but then the bad times return again. It's the normal days that encourage the fantasy that all problems in the family might someday be solved. This is a common cycle in highly dysfunctional families. When they grow up, these adults carry the same types of fantasy into their relationships. They may portray to others the myth that they have the perfect relationship and they may believe, to themselves, that someday all of their relationship problems will somehow be solved. They ignore the abuse, manipulation, imbalance and control in the relationship. By ignoring the problems, they are unable to confront them and the fantasy of a happier future never comes to pass.

Unhealthy boundaries, where we collude with our partner in believing the myth that everything is fine, make it difficult to come to terms with the troubles of the relationship.

Healthy boundaries allow us to test reality rather than rely on fantasy. When problems are present, good boundaries allow us to define the problems and to communicate with our partner in finding solutions. They encourage a healthy self-image, trust, consistency, stability and productive communication.

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shared by Barbara at 12:25 AM 2 comments


Friday, September 12, 2014

Know Excuses


Abusers will minimize, justify, deny, distort, lie about and blame others for their behavior to escape consequences, It is our responsibility to hold them accountable.

The following quotes are taken from batterers in the Alternatives to Domestic Aggression (ADA) Program of Catholic Social Services of Washtenaw County.

I wasn't able to stop there
It was an accident
I don't accept change
I didn't know how to be accountable
Accountability didn't stick with me
I didn't get my act together
I didn't adapt to the way society is now
My adrenaline overflowed
We're Afro-American / Hispanic / Italian / etc. and that's how we talk
She was coming after me
It was an afterthought
I guess I got too aggressive
That's what got me aggressive
Everything was up in the air
Alcohol came in to play
Alcohol brought the violence out of me
Alcohol enhanced the problem
Alcohol escalates a little bit
The alcohol controlled me
Alcohol was involved
The alcohol started talking
Alcohol set me off like a keg of dynamite
I had an alcohol problem
I had a little alcohol
I'm more succeptable to violence on alcohol
The alcohol changes my personality
It was an alcohol related incident
I was really under the influence of alcohol
She allowed it
It was a lot at one time
There was an altercation happening
We got into a little altercation
I had no alternatives
She was anemic
I tried to let her know what life is like in America
That's how I am
I didn't analyze the situation
Anger comes out of me
The anger escalates
I have an anger problem
I was venting my anger
I couldn't control my anger
I had an anger problem
I did it out of anger
I don't handle anger well
Anger creates violence
I had an inability to control my anger
My anger controlled me
I didn't know how to vent my anger in a different way
I was into the anger thing
My anger got the better of my rational thinking
I got angry and didn't use patience
I didn't have the right answers
We kept upping the ante
It was an animal response to a perceived threat
An argument broke out
Before I knew it we got to arguing
It's an arguing type situation
We had a violent argument
The argument started in the bedroom and went into the kitchen
I was avoiding an argument
We got into an argument match
I got into a violent argument
The argument got out of hand
We had a basic sibling argument
We had a normal argument
We had a domestic argument
We just had an argument
We had physical arguments
It was an overheated argument
We were in a heated argument
We both used all of our artillery
She asked me to hit her
I was half asleep
I didn't have an opportunity to be assertive
It was a detrimental atmosphere
I kind of got an attitude
I have an attitude problem
I bring alot of attitude home with me from work
My attitude overtook my actions
It became automatic
It's kind of automatic
I was avoiding the bigger problem
I was avoiding hurting her
I was avoiding punching her
I didn't get away from the situation
I came back on her
My back was up against the wall
I backslid
I was just getting back at her in some demented way
I had a physical background
If she was a bad woman she deserved a pop in the eye
My relationship went bad
It got really bad
I'm baffled about it all
I was baited into it
She lost her balance
I went bananas
She was in the bar
Without thinking I barked
It was that strong German beer
That behavior came out
My behavior was wrong
My behavior repeated itself
It was violent behavior
Being what I am
Things got the best of me
It was the best I could do
I let my inner self get the best of me
I was beside myself watching
I wasn't a better man
I just avoided the bigger problem
Sometimes I get angry and blackout
I blew up
The flame blew
It built up inside until I blew up
It was a blight on our weekend
I was blind to what was going on
Sometimes I have blinders on
The abuse blossomed in our relationship
It's in my blood
The blood boiled
We blow up at each other
We had a blowout
I might have blown up
It happened out of the blue
I blurted out
My anger boiled over
I got to my boiling point
I was boiling
I just boiled over
I took so much until I get to the boiling point
I didn't put it in my book
All of a sudden, boom, it happens
Then, boom, out of nowhere
I was born with aggressiveness
I let women bother me
I was boxed in
I didn't engage my brain before my mouth
I didn't know how to break off
I didn't put on the breaks
We had a mutual breakup
I was brewing
I was pushed to the brink
That's when everything broke loose
I broke
I broke there
I was brought up that way
I guess things build up in me
It builds up
It was all built up inside me
A lot of things built up to it
Everything built up on me
I build and build and one day boom
I was like a bull in heat
It was the stress of my buttons being pushed
All the time people push my buttons
I let a lot of things push my buttons
She controlled my buttons
She pushed my anger buttons
She taunted me
I had a buzz on
Sometimes it just goes right by
I calmed her down
She destroyed my calm
I couldn't calm down
I couldn't keep it calm
That's the way it came out
The abuse came up out of me
It came out of me before I could stop and think about it
It just came out
I can't shut up
I wasn't careful
I was getting too carried away
I got carried away
I didn't catch myself
I didn't catch a key subject that came up
I was caught off guard
I got caught up in anger
I got caught up in my violent behavior
I got caught up in this one incident
I got caught up in the situation
Something caused me to do it
It was cause and effect
It takes two to cause
I was off center
I didn't get a second chance
I changed
I was going through some changes
Chemicals altered my way of judgment
My chemistry takes over
I was just being childish
I didn't have a choice
I had no choice
I made the wrong choice
I made a bad choice
I made bad choices
I made horrible choices
I made some real poor choices
I don't choose to yell and scream
I was in a violent circle
The whole circumstance came down
I don't know if I'm going to click
It wasn't the suit of clothes I wanted to put on
Cocaine showed the bad side of me
There was physical combat between us
The b-word comes out
It comes out
It just comes out that way
This problem kept coming up
My anxiety and frustration starts coming out
I couldn't communicate with her
Our communication didn't work
It takes two to tango
It's the only way I know how to cover up my communication skills
I put myself in a compromising situation
I couldn't concentrate
I jumped to conclusions
I had a nervous condition
I was conditioned to act that way
There was a confrontation
I got confused
I'm no good at confusion
I did not consciously do it
We had hostile contact
I was out of my context
I was containing her
I couldn't control my temper
I wasn't in control enough of what I said
It led on to where I got out of control
I couldn't talk without losing control
I lost control and everything bad
It was a situation I couldn't control
My efforts to control myself failed repeatedly
I was on the verge of losing control
I got out of control
I lost more control
I didn't have enough control
I tend to get out of control
Things got way out of control
I didn't know how to control myself
I was being controlled by someone else
I felt like she was controlling me
I was backed into a corner
We both lost control
I couldn't avoid a confrontation
I couldn't take it anymore!
I couldn't stop it
We're like a lot of couples in that respect
It had to run its course
I cracked
I went crazy
It was crazy
I just went crazy
My bad attitude crept back in
I crossed the border
I crossed over
I'm on a cruise
It was the culmination of a lot of bad things
It was a daily abusive thing
We did this dance together
I had a hard day
I brought a bad day home with me
I was having a hard day
It's just how I deal with things
I couldn't deal with it
I couldn't deal with the situation
I just f'ed up and made the wrong decision
I made that bad decision
I made the wrong decision
I made a very, very bad decision
I went off the deep end
It's a character defect
I reacted to defend myself
I was defending myself
I automatically take a defense
It was a defensive reaction
I was brought up on the defensive side
It was a delusional thought I acted on
I was deranged with bitterness
I'm not perfect at diagnosing people's problems
I didn't do it
I was diffusing her upset and irrational behavior
I was just directing her out
I have never directly abused them from a physical standpoint
I didn't have self-discipline
We had some discrepancies
She was just as bad
It's a disease
That's my attention deficit disorder
It was a minor dispute
It was a divorce issue
I was on her like a rabid dog
I don't know what I do
It was a domestic dispute
I took a dominant role
It was a real cheap door
She went down to the ground
I didn't realize what was going on until it all went down
I get angry when I drink
The drinking made it physical
I was driven toward that goal
I was drunk
She initiated the whole thing by being drunk
I was half way drunk
I go off the edge
I was right on the edge
She took me over the edge
I was set over the edge
I get too emotional
I get a little bit too emotional
I am emotionally weak
My emotions were at their wits' end
I should have handled my emotions better
My emotions take over
I didn't keep my emotions down
My emotions erupt
I can't handle my emotions
I had angry, violent emotions
I ended up hurting her shoulder
I ended up hitting her
I ended the argument
Drinking enhanced my problem
It had an energy of its own
I couldn't do enough for her
I didn't remove myself from the abusive environment
I'm not equipped to handle things ahead of time
It erupted in me
I finally erupted
Violence erupts
The argument would escalate
Our fight was escalating
Everything escalated
We escalated our voices
It escalated to physical abuse
It got escalated
The situation really escalated
It escalated from that
It kept escalating on
A small argument escalated into a serious situation
I got even with her
It was an abusive event
My evil side came out that night
I'm not the domestic violator her ex-husband was
We exchanged some words
There were words exchanged
I didn't see any exit
I more or less expected her to be obedient
I explode
I hold it in and then explode
Things build up and I explode
I exploded at her
I exploded at them
She was irrational and explosive
I was just expressing my opinion
We got in each others face
I was a failure
I took a fall
It's easy to fall into things
It had gone too far
We went farther than any time before
I was going too fast
My father doesn't have a lot of patience
It's a fault of mine
It's a fault that leads to argumentation
I returned the favor
My fear came out in abuse
I was fed up
I don't feel good
I fell into it
I fell back into it
I fell off the map
I fell back into that old person
It was a situation I fell into
It festered until it came out into the open
I couldn't figure her out
We ended up getting in a fight
Our fight got extreme
We had a fight
We had a fist fight
We got in a fight
It was because we were fighting
The fights started to get a little more physical
I find myself doing it
My finger poked her in the eye
My fingernails grow too fast
My fingernails were a little longer than they are now
It was the first thing that came to me
I did not use fisticuffs
I was too fixated
I flew off the handle
It's because of my flighty thinking
I fly off the handle
It set me off on a bad foot
I realized that I used too much force
She forced me to
I was forced to
We found ourselves in conflict
I found myself arguing back with her
I found myself somewhere I didn't want to be
I found myself chasing her
I'd freak out
I was in a frenzy
I was venting frustration
We f'ed up
I blew a fuse
I have a short fuse
I had a short fuse
I blew a gasket
She poured gasoline on the fire
I'm a Gemini
It was a generational cycle
In my generation it's the way we spoke
It was a generational thing
It's in my genes
I was genetically born with it
My anger came out like a bad Genie
I was on my gentlemanly way and she proceeded to hit me
I let her get to me
I let it get to me
She would get me to do it
I go off
I could only go so far
I let myself go
She got my goat
I got going with what I had to do
I got going
I'm not good in one-on-one relationships
I thought the violence was going to be gone
There was a gun involved
It had gone too far
She got to me
That's the way I grew up
I got into a groove of life
I didn't want to grow up
She wasn't grown up
It caught me off guard
That's the kind of guy I am
I have this bad habit
It's a bad habit
Force of habit
I picked up her bad habits
I had to
Things got out of hand
I used my hands
Every man should be able to handle one woman
I had a hard day
An argument happened
What happened, happened
When that happened
The assault happened
It happened that way
Things happened quick one night
It happened in an argument
It's what happened in the past
It just happened
It happened
We fight and it happens again
Sometimes that happens
Came to a head
I didn't know what was heading me into this
I was headed down that road
Heat of the moment
It happened in the heat of an argument
Sometimes when the heat gets turned up things come out
It got heated up
Heat of passion
I got heated up
Some heated words were exchanged
I held her back from hitting me
I got into it with her
All hell broke loose
I can't help myself
It's hereditary
I have a high history of violence in my life
I was holding her in my arms
She's just a woman scorned
The honeymoon wore off
She had a bad hormonal imbalance
It was a hot button
My house needs to be designed differently
It's an abusive house
It's because I'm human
I had no idea I would be offensive
I was showing my ignorance
It was in me
I was into the battering incident
They were incidents
I had there have been incidents of violence
I was incoherent
She initiated the violence
Hell hath no fury...
I dealt with it inappropriately
I went insane
It was an insecure thing
Alcohol was the instigator
It's my basic instinct
It's my aggressive male instinct
I was not very intelligent
I got into it with her
I was intoxicated
I introduced a gun into the discussion
I was too personally involved
I was irrational
It was rather isolated
It was a wrong judgment call
It's our karma
I was acting like a little kid
We knew each other too well
The next thing I knew The knife was thrown in the fire
We knocked each other down
I didn't know better
I don't know what came over me after a while I just - I don't know
I didn't know what I was doing
I don't know how it came up
I was lacking in communication
I lapsed in to my same pattern
It was too late to pause and reflect
I didn't laugh, my lip just went up
I didn't learn my lesson
One thing led to another
It all led up to that
I was on the edge of what was legal
I was giving her a lesson
We didn't let it go
I had license to be angry
Violence was a part of our life
Sometimes life is abusive
I've been living that lifestyle
Liquor makes me violent
I was with her too long
There are situations where I really lose control
I was verbally losing it
I was losing it
I lost my ability to control myself
I lost my cool
I lost control
I lost it
We get loud sometimes
It was loud
We weren't in love
I have a problem with lying
It makes me
I was not being a man
I'm not that kind of man
It manifested itself
It was a bad marriage
That's not me
I didn't mean to hurt her
I didn't mean to do it
I didn't mean it
It was a meeting of the thing
All the men in my family do it
It was a bad mess
I was a messed up person
She messed me up
Your mind comes up against a roadblock
I can't know what was in my mind
I don't know what was going through my mind
My mind wasn't on it
I wasn't in my everyday mind
I naturally wasn't in my right mind
I had too much on my mind
I wasn't in my right mind
I was misinterpreted
I made a stupid mistake
It was a mistake
I made a human mistake
I repeated my mistake
It was because of how she spent money
It was my mood change
I was in a mood
It was this ornery mood I have
I was in a bad mood
She was in the arguing mode
We have our moments
There was still more abuse after that
I was going through the motions
I engaged my mouth without thinking
I moved her out of the way
I came back to myself
It's a natural human response
It's just my nature
Somebody needed to do it
She got on my last nerve
I let it get to my nerves
I get nervous
I didn't go to a neutral place
I am a non-violent person
It was before noon
I wasn't my normal self
It came out of nowhere
I was still numb
Out on the nut
The fight occurred
An affair occurred
I went off
I offered to shoot my wife
I had an old-fashioned way of doing things
It was the only way I knew
I couldn't let the opportunity go by
My abuse got out of hand
I had an outburst
We had a violent outburst
I was over reacting
I overreacted a little bit
I reacted totally overboard
I went overboard
I over-disciplined her
I can't stop being abusive overnight
I overreact
I overreacted to the situation
I overstepped myself
I overstepped my bounds
My parents formed my values
It was a part of me
It was a part of my personality
I can't get past this
I was led down the wrong path
I lost my patience
People let me do it
I was another person it's in my personality
What my inside personality, Igor, did was very bad
I didn't keep things in perspective
It was petty behavior
It was a phase I was going through
The phone hit her
Before I knew it was getting physical
It got a little physical sometimes
When it's about to get physical
I'm not a physical person
I was physical with her
We got physical
Things got physical
We were on a different plain
It went until it played itself out
I was less than pleasant
I couldn't please her
I was just getting my point across
I get to the point where I get somewhat violent
I reached my breaking point
It just popped out of me
Something possessed me to do it
I was powerless and didn't know what to do
She precipitated my way of thinking
I can't think as precise when I'm ticked off
I can't keep the pressure from blowing up and hurting someone
Pressure built up because she goes to school

I can't control the pressure inside of me
I threw my principles out the window
I turned off my principles
I had a big problem with that
I had a little problem
My son had become a problem
I was programmed to act this way
It progressed from that point
She provoked me
I was protecting myself
She pulled her head away
It was a punctuation
Push turned in to shove, shove turned into choking
I get pushed over the edge
It started out as a pushing thing
I'm a pussy if I walk away
It all happened quick
I have a quick temper
Everything happened so quick
I went into the rage
I let the rage get the better of me
It's my rage
I would rage
I woke up in a rage of fighting
I had to express my rage
I kind of ran into a little situation
I was not thinking rationally
I react
I react badly
I reacted stupidly
I react in the same manner
I would react violently
I just reacted
I reacted wrongfully
It automatically caused a reaction
I was out of touch with reality
I didn't realize I was being abusive
I didn't realize I was being controlling
I didn't realize the impact of what
I said I did it for no reason
There was no reason to it
It happened for no apparent reason
My reason went bye-bye
My ability to reason was swept away
It was a reckless act
I couldn't recognize my bad choices
It wasn't recoverable
I was reflecting past aggression
It's a reflex
It was an abusive relationship
Our relationship was going to end anyway
I am guilty of a bad relationship
I relapsed
I had to let it release a little
I released my anger
I needed to remove myself from the situation
I needed to remove the violence from my system
No repair was possible
I was restraining her
I didn't restrain myself
Things were repetitive and hostile
My resentment had a lot of angry energy
I responded
She needed physical restraint
I was restraining her
I retaliated
I should have got rid of her some other way
Everything rolled into one
It was the end of the rope
I guess I got too rough
My father rubbed off on me
She rubbed me the wrong way
We were in a ruckus
Some things were said
She's fat
I just said something back
The scales tipped to set me off
If I had any sense I wouldn't have battered
I had no common sense
I was out of my senses
She set me up
She set me off
It set me off
I was trying to settle her down
I was settling her down
I shot off at the mouth
A shouting match proceeded
I don't know to shut up
I was sick then
It's a sickness
That's a side of me that doesn't show up that often
I got on her bad side
It was that kind of situation
I couldn't get out of the situation
It was a hit or be hit type of situation
The situation didn't diffuse itself
The situation was destined to get out of control
The situation didn't resolve
She put me to sleep
It was a sleeping disorder
Slip of the tongue
She slipped
I slipped in to threats
It was slipping in
I snapped
It grew like a snowball
Something was coming
I was never violent when I was sober
My relationship went sour
She was from the south
We spark off
Sparked a violent streak
Figure of speech
I spoiled a romantic evening
Things happened spontaneously
Spur of the moment
It was a spur of the moment thing
She started it
This is the state we're in
She stepped between us
The stick hit her
I got the short end of the stick
I went by a bunch of stop signs
The storm had to pass
I didn't straighten up
I had a violent streak
I got it from the streets
I just stung her
I was stupid enough to do it
I did it out of stupidity
Things succeeded from there
I succumbed to the fact
It was a big suggestion
I couldn't take it anymore
I thought I was talking nice
I let my temper out
I have a quick temper
I have a problem with losing my temper when we disagree
I didn't know how far my temper could go
I lost my temper
I have a quick and violent temper
I have a problem with my temper
I have a bad temper
My temper's got a lot to do with it
I'm hot tempered
I have a temper problem
I lost my temper enough
I don't know how to hold my temper
I have a short temper
I was just being tender
Things succeeded from there
I didn't give myself time to think
I didn't think about what I did before I did it
I couldn't think
I didn't think
I don't think before I talk
I didn't think enough to walk off
I wasn't thinking straight
I wasn't thinking right
I wasn't thoughtful
It wasn't a threat, it was a promise
I slipped into threats
She takes threats well
It was part of the tide of violence
I'm a time bomb
As time goes on it gets worse
I do it all the time
It was because
I was so tired
I got caught up in a trap
She triggered my actions
Something triggered it
My work triggered me off
We had that trouble
I didn't try hard enough
It takes two for an argument to happen
It takes two to fight
Things were ugly in the house
I was uncertain about myself
It was unconscious
I was unconsciously thinking
I was leading an uncontrollable life
I was unhealthy
I was unloading
I was up all night
It was ugly in the house
It was my upbringing
I got upset and mean
I just get upset
I'm here for being upset
I get upset and worked up
She was used to it
I vented my anger
We used alot of verbal and it turned into physical
I was a victim of her abuse
I have violence problems
I have domestic violence
I got violent with her after she got violent with me
I'm not a violent person
It was a visitation thing
You can only walk away from so much
I couldn't walk away from it
I did not want to do it
That's just the way I am
It was the only way I knew
It was the hot weather
I went back to those old ways
She weighs a lot
We got into it
The discussion was not going well
Things were kind of wild
I tried to wiggle it out
I woke up that way
We had words
My words came out of my mouth
I didn't leave work at work
It was a work related type of thing
I was too worked up
It came up worse than it should have been
We got worse and worse
We wrestled and I won
We ended up wrestling
I made wrong decisions
It took 10 years
I just zipped

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shared by Barbara at 12:23 AM 6 comments