Category Archives: Suffering

You Are In Integrity

“You are in integrity when the life you live is an authentic expression of who you are.” — Alan Cohen

 

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Ask for Help

 

“Asking for help does not mean we are weak or incompetent. It usually indicates an advanced level of honesty and intelligence.” — Anne Wilson Schaef

I’ve received a lot of help lately. Most from my dearest friend and some from people I never imagined I would receive so much of their time or efforts.  I don’t like to ask.  I’ll spend more energy talking about how hard it is for me to ask, than the energy I’d expend simply asking for what I need.

Many of us may have grown up in isolation and with shame being constantly reinforced the way I did.  Help began to feel like a luxury reserved for other people.  I thought I didn’t deserve it.   I thought I should be able to handle everything.  I failed to realize just when I needed help, because I’m so accustomed to living life in a “crisis mode.”  I tell myself that my concerns and problems aren’t important enough to bother somebody with.  Then, when life becomes really complicated, I blame myself for feeling overwhelmed and almost unable to act.

But we all deserve help.  We deserve all the help that we may want and need, whether it’s a ride to an appointment or for someone’s shoulder to cry on when we’re sad or upset.  We are worth the time, effort and concern of others – not because any of us is different, but because we are the same.

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I Am Being Looked After

 

I Will Continue to Fulfill My Commitments to Peace and Grace

 

“Can such thing be, and overcome us like a summer’s cloud, without our special wonder?” — William Shakespeare

 

To overcome my feeling of being lost, alone and afraid; overwhelmed by the challenges I now face, I am going through my “tool belt” of coping mechanisms that I have added along life’s way.  To reclaim my ability to take part again in life, I have discovered that I must reclaim the gift of commitment.  I have many personal commitments: living life fully and authentically, my growing spirituality, working on my special relationships with my closest friends and sharing my experiences of personal discovery and growth through my writing.  I have come to realize that it is a moment of wonder when we have something in our lives that requires the best we have to give.

During times of doubt or struggle, I find myself questioning what I’ve gotten myself into. But an activity or a person to which we give ourselves wholly and freely is evidence of a force greater than ourselves at work in our life.  I believe my commitments are something the Universe has asked me to do and I know absolutely and without a doubt that the Universe will help me take care of meeting all of them.

Money, support and the energy and enthusiasm needed will come as well and at the perfect time.  Although it may seem that things may not be going my way, I can trust that the Universe is giving to me all that I need so that my lessons can be learned and tasks can be accomplished.  This knowledge and belief helps to keep my spirits up.  Each day I have before me a wonderful opportunity to fulfill my commitments in peace and grace.  I am being looked after.


 

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Please Send Me an Angel a Poem by Mark Schmitz

Please Send Me an Angel

I need an angel.
One to watch over me.

All hope seems to have run out.

I need an angel.

My life is a mess,
And it feels as though
no one’s left.

I just need an angel;

Soft wings of protection
to hold me when I’m scared.
Strong arms to comfort me

As now it seems no one really cares.

I need an angel.
To chase away
these nightmares;
To make things better,

To protect me;

Show me how to make life right.
Please send me an angel.

By Mark Schmitz

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About The Narcissistic Personality Disordered Person

My previous relationship was with a man with a paranoid personality disorder.  Eventually, it was determined that he also had a narcissistic personality disorder.  With this knowledge I chose to stand by the side of my then partner, as I felt that, through no choice of his own, he was afflicted by mental illness. It goes without saying, that this affliction played a major role in my life both individually and in the relationship. Each day proved to be a difficult day. I have blogged about my experience with his paranoid personality disorder. The insight I have gained through my process of understanding narcissism has broadened the scope of my comprehension of the bigger picture of what was going on and what was “in play” within our relationship. I stated in my blog about paranoia that by sharing this type of information openly in forums such as this and my decision honor the commitments I have made to my partner, I have alienated myself from key persons I would normally choose to have in my support network. As a result of my openness and honesty, I sacrificed both family connections and close friendships.

Contrary to what some people may think, I felt I had given considerable thought to my decision to stand by my partner, again consulting with both paraprofessionals and professionals in the field of psychiatry. It is a lonely experience trying to share the struggles my partner and I faced to some in our support network, and some abandoned us altogether. I was often asked,” Why do you stay with such a person?” When faced with trying to understand his narcissistic behavior, I found myself in a very familiar place, asking myself that very same question.

As I continued to learn to live with the decisions I made, I saw more of the options available to me. Thoughts, feelings and emotions were so jumbled up inside my head. I felt as though I was hanging onto a very thin rope over a very deep abyss. I knew that in times such as those I was experiencing, I needed to first take care of myself. Eventually, healthy people came into my life. One or two of them were there all along, only I wasn’t open to receiving their opinion and I didn’t pursue the friendship. I found I had a small circle of stable people I could call and talk to and spend time with outside of my home environment.

I knew I needed a tool to process the jumbled feelings, the hurts, resentments and fears that were consuming my thoughts; even manifesting themselves physically in my body. One way I typically approach the more significant issues in my life is to look at the situation very analytically. One of the ways I do this is to write a blog and journal which incorporates the more factual matters; much like the way one would approach writing a research paper on the subject matter. Following is the result from my research, condensed and specific to my situation with my former partner:

The Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is a condition characterized by an inflated sense of self-importance, need for admiration, extreme self-involvement, and a lack of empathy for others. Individuals with this disorder are usually arrogantly self-assured and confident. They expect to be noticed as superior. Individuals with NPD are sometimes called “serial bullies.” Many highly successful people might be considered narcissistic. However, this disorder is only diagnosed when these behaviors become persistent and very disabling or distressing. The narcissist does not cater at all to his own needs. Contrary to his reputation, the narcissist does not “love” himself in any true sense of this loaded word.

He feeds off other people who hurl back at him an image that he projects to them. This is their sole function in his world: to reflect, to admire, to applaud, to detest – in a word, to assure him that he exists. Otherwise, they have no right to tax his time, energy, or emotions – so he feels.

NPD is a true mental diagnosis for people who need admiration, lack empathy and have a grandiose sense of their self-importance. It is called a pervasive pattern of grandiosity in fantasy and behavior, and usually begins by early adulthood and it presents itself in a variety of symptoms. To make this diagnosis, a person presents five or more of the following:

Are You Narcissistic?

 

 

Fill in the blank next to each question with a number from 1 to 5 as follows:

 

1 strongly disagree     2 disagree     3 neutral     4 agree     5 strongly agree

 

_____      I am very concerned with what others think of me.

 

_____      I am easily bored.

 

_____      I feel that I am attractive

 

_____      I call, text or email my friends when we haven’t spoken for a while.

 

_____      People are always coming to me with their problems.

 

_____      I am more important than most people I know.

 

_____      I find that other people’s remarks can be hurtful.

 

_____      I don’t like being alone for long.

 

_____      People often don’t appreciate me.

 

_____      I feel that I am always sorting out people’s problems for them.

 

Scores between 24 and 34 are normal (The average is 29).

If your score is 35 or more you may be narcissistic.

If your score is 23 or less you may be lacking in self-confidence.

It is rare for a narcissistic person to be diagnosed with NPD because those who really should be don’t seek help and so don’t get clinically assessed; it is usually members of their family or work colleagues who seek help to cope with them. Here are a few pointers that may help you identify one:

Their lack of empathy colors everything they do.

They may say, “How are you?” when you meet, but they are working from memory.

They are not interested in how you are.

Virtually all of their ideas or ways of behaving in a given situation are taken from others, people they know and perhaps think of as an authority (mirroring).

Their sense of self-importance and lack of empathy means that they will often interrupt the conversations of others.

They expect others to do the day-to-day chores as they feel too important to waste their time on common things.

Listen for the constant use of “I”, “me” and “my” when they talk.

They very rarely talk about their inner life, such as their memories and dreams.

They feel that the rules at work don’t apply to them

They will always cheat when they think they can get away with it

If you share workload with them expect to do the lion’s share yourself.

They love to delegate work or projects, and then interfere by micro-managing it. If it goes well, they take the credit, if it goes badly they blame the person they delegated it to.

There tends to be higher levels of stress with people who work with or interact with a narcissist, which in turn increases absenteeism and staff turnover.

They get impatient and restless when the topic of discussion is about someone else, and not about them.

How is narcissistic personality disorder treated?

There is no known cure for narcissistic personality disorder, but psychotherapy might help the person learn to relate to others in a more positive and rewarding way. Psychotherapy tries to provide the person with greater insight into his or her problems and attitudes in the hope that this will change behavior. The goal of therapy is to help the person develop a better self-esteem and more realistic expectations of others. Medicine might be used to treat the distressing symptoms, such as behavioral problems, that might occur with this disorder.

What are the complications of narcissistic personality disorder?

People with narcissistic personality disorder might abuse drugs and/or alcohol as a way of coping with their symptoms. The disorder also might interfere with the development of healthy relationships with others.

What is the outlook for people with narcissistic personality disorder?
The prognosis depends on the severity of the disorder.

Can narcissistic personality disorder be prevented?

There is no known way to prevent narcissistic personality disorder.


Don’t Judge Me by the Way I Look

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“Many brave men lived before Agamemnon, but all unwept and unknown, they sleep in endless night, for they had no poets to sound their praises.” – Horace

A person in one of my group therapy sessions once told this story.  “I was living in a city with a large population of homeless and poor.  Each day it was painful to notice the contrast between the beautifully dressed, seemingly self-confident people, and the poor who shared the streets with them.”

“One day I realized I could empathize with how those homeless people felt.  I’d lived my whole life feeling I didn’t belong, with no family I could turn to, and not knowing if I would survive another day in my misery.  The compassion I felt was a reminder to me not to form my opinions about people by how they look.  It doesn’t matter what people think they see in me, or anyone else.  Each one of us is wounded.  It’s just that some wounds are on the inside instead of the outside.”  Remember that we are all in this world together and for a purpose, no matter what the circumstances of our lives.

Just for Today, Let Go of Anger and Resentment Toward Family and Focus on Taking Care of Yourself

“It is a true proverb, that if you live with a lame man, you will learn to halt.” — Plutarch

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     Working through the memories of childhood is a task each of us eventually faces.  Addiction in a family system contributes to addiction along the way and affects our own individual addiction(s) and creates drama in life as adults.  207469539_29026811bd  

     I have realized that we can decide whether it’s important for us to know if and how addiction has operated in our families.  We can gain that knowledge as we need it.  But isn’t it enough simply knowing the addiction is real, that it’s present in family systems, and that we didn’t cause it?  Knowing we didn’t cause it helps to stop blaming one’s self.  2364590873_337e203529_m

     The important thing I have found is to focus on my own recovery.  I cannot change a thing about my family or the past.  But, I have found I can change my attitude toward them.  When ever we feel caught up in the addiction or drama in a family members’s behavior, we can bring our attention back to ourselves.  That way, resentment and fruitless anger yield to honesty and humility. Detaching from the things we cannot change, forgiving the harm done to us, and letting go of the past are important parts of our healing. 

Consensual Inferiority

 

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

Even though we may deny it, there are those of us that may secretly want to be hurt by others; since, in some strange abhorrent way, we think that is what we deserve.  Before I became clean and sober, I lost my good opinion of myself; I indulged in actions that placed me in situations of humiliation and debasement.  It’s a sad truth, but I found comfort there, finding a sort of release from tension through degrading acts.

For those readers who may relate even remotely to such degradement, resolve with me to reject humiliation.  I find that through talking to others, that life is rich and varied and open – I want to join in!  There was a woman sitting across from me on the bus the other day, and I noticed that from her purse hung a long chain of Crystal Meth Anonymous (CMA) sobriety chips; the one most prominent boasting 30 months sobriety. This woman was riding the bus with two others, who I eventually came to know as her husband and daughter.

As I watched this woman interacting with her family, seeing their big smiling faces, listening to their jests and laughter, I thought how alive they looked.  Not ghostly images of addicts going unnoticed as life moves about them, but rather, they were engaged in life.  I wanted to join in!

We do not have to continue to find false comfort and release in acts that come back to haunt us and humiliate us.  There is no more room in my life for feelings of inferiority or worthlessness.  There are ways for us all to gain self-esteem and a sense of true value of our lives.

Look Fear Right in its Face!

You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face.  You are able to say to yourself, “I lived through this horror.  I can take the next thing that comes along.” — Eleanor Roosevelt

One of the things I know I have gained through recovery and personal growth is that I have been given courage in the face of life’s darker realities. Now, I’m even more enthusiastic to offer my help to others in the face of addiction, depression, mental illness, physical illness and any other of life’s calamities. I know I can help, because I can say, “I’ve been there.” I’ve gone through so much, and I’ve come out of it on the other side. I understand the fear.

What a tremendous gift this can all be to others, given by those of us who understand the fear. Especially, for those facing their recovery issues after us. Our presence, our support, our unconditional love, and our non judgmental attitude are often what another suffering person needs. Our experiences as addicts, individuals challenged with mental illness – you name it – whatever other fear based dilemma we have faced, have given us an understanding and wisdom.

We have the perspective to be practical and realistic when necessary. We have the empathy to be compassionate. We have the strength and clarity to keep our boundaries in the face of another’s challenges and fears. My courage I am feeling at this moment is my personal growth and recovery in action. For that, may we all be grateful!

Domestic Violence in Gay Relationships

The World Was Mine?

Domestic Violence in Homosexual Relationships

mark-self-portrait-15.jpg

“The world was always yours; you would not take it.” — Archibald MacLeish

In October 2007, I experienced a very bad day; one that I am very ashamed of. I allowed myself into a situation with my then partner and I ended up getting hurt. I was physically attacked and beaten by my partner; I made some very wrong choices that day. It’s possible during a difficult time to become sidetracked in self-pity, anxiety, anger or fear.

Yesterday, I felt all of those feelings. It can be easier for me to fall into those feelings than to look honestly at my responsibilities at the moment. When I feel myself spiraling down, possibly into a dangerous, unhealthy situation, it’s time to ask some hard questions.

What will I choose differently today? Am I willing to take care of myself before I take care of anyone or anything else? Is there someone I can call or turn to, something I can do to stay on track with my personal growth and respect me?

I know the answers are all within me. I have infinite inner resources and potential. I have people to whom I can reach out. I have my Higher Power and I have a commitment to myself. Through the use of these tools I will find the hope and encouragement I need, just for today to keep me safe and out of harm’s way.

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