Friday, September 15, 2017


Whether we listen to them or not, our instincts are operating. That little voice inside our heads that notes when something isn't right is talking to us, but sometimes we simply are not listening. Or else we are listening but then our mind kicks in and develops a rationale as to why we're wrong.

When we notice a definite pattern about our lives it makes sense to pay attention. So, if my pattern is that I allowed situations that weren't fair throughout my life, that didn't have at their core reciprocity, what was going on there?

I think this is where our observations about life - through the eyes of the little person we once were - instruct our older selves.

My parents loved each other and they loved us, their children, but there was nothing reciprocal about our parents' marriage, or any aspect of family life. Life rotated around Dad; what was important to him; what he wanted at any particular moment; whether he wanted us in his orbit or not. He made his feelings clear but I don't recall any conversations that hinged around how I  felt. It was tough to make a connection because there were only a few topics of conversation that really stirred him - football, cricket, horse racing, his business.

Luckily, I enjoyed horse racing so sometimes we'd go together. It gave us something to do and to talk about. But, he wasn't a fan of  things relating to education really and so we had no connection there. I don't recall talking to him about school at all. He wasn't interested in my love for ballet and piano, or for reading either. He didn't even feign interest, and I suppose there is a level of integrity about that. He was always authentically himself.

The reality is that I seemed to come out of nowhere, completely unlike my brother and my Mum and Dad. It was very disorienting actually. I sometimes did wonder if I wasn't some sort of mistake; what other explanation was there for this disparity?

When I met my husband and he was almost immediately moody and argumentative, ready to blame me for any little mistake - a little voice said to me, 'That's weird. You hardly know this guy and he's already acting moody and blaming you for things that make no sense.' But at the same time it wasn't all that weird, not from where I'd come; from where we'd given space to my Dad to be as moody and as difficult as he cared to be. No-one called him on that behavior and of course in my little girl way, I noted that and made the only assessment I could; that that was normal.

It's said that when you allow narcissistic behavior in your life it probably means that your self esteem is low, and it was. Of course, it was. I had parents who loved me but I didn't have parents who hugged me, or who had made a full effort to attach to me such that I felt secure. It stands to reason I was insecure. I was quite a pretty little girl,  nothing was awful about me, and I achieved pretty well if you leave sport out of the equation, but still, very lacking in self esteem. It's true.

Perhaps because I wasn't well attached to my parents, securely attached that is, wasn't sure that they - my Dad especially - wanted me around, I think I felt the same way about the boys I met. I wasn't sure that I was even interesting, or had something to offer. I was full of self doubt about my value.

They say that people like this - like me - haven't figured out what they like, or want, or need. I had some idea but it's true that I hadn't given the matter all that much thought. I wanted an education. I wanted to get close to one particular boy and for us to do lots of things together. Ideally I wanted an outgoing boy. I anticipated I'd be a teacher.

In the course of the marriage, it soon became clear that what my husband wanted to do, at any particular time, and how he wanted to do it, would be the way that things would go. I fought this because it didn't take into account what I needed and wanted often, but he got his way. I'd say the problem issues related to aesthetics in the main. I'd want to do some improvement to our house but he struggled to cooperate which I discovered was mainly related to his perfectionism.

Over time, doing things his way became the norm. I picked up the slack, since he didn't want to do mundane, housework type things, for example. He knew what he wanted to do and he wanted the freedom to do those things. And, for harmony, that's the way it went, and the way it still goes.

His voice got stronger and his insistence that he do things his way meant that a silence drew around us. I stopped asking for what I wanted, stopped trying to get the message across that what mattered to me years ago still mattered to me now, and always would. It really, really mattered. But, the message - delivered loudly, quietly, or silently - could not be heard. It wasn't what he wanted, and so it didn't happen. I continue to wait for what I want. If you asked him he would have all kinds of explanations for this, but at the end of the day, he chose different things. He had other priorities.

I see what happened now, not just in the marriage, but in relation to all men with whom I have been close in my life; well, save for David who is long dead now, who was such a gentleman, a substitute Dad for me. All the men I have known have been attracted to me because of my disposition; my willingness to be what they wanted me to be; to partake in a relationship of whatever sort where I didn't expect too much, and where reciprocity wasn't an expectation.

Understanding it all now, I ask myself what sort of man/relationship I'd love to have in my life, if I ever had another chance, another life, or my husband agreed to meet me in this life and share it with me with a sense of reciprocity.

Oh gosh! Of course, I'd love to have a man who cherished me; who wanted me to be my best self; who listened to me and was deeply curious about my inner life. I'd love a man who laughed, and who wanted to show me special places; and who hugged me and kissed me often. I'd love a man who pulled me into his side on the couch; who wanted lots of sex in lots of different ways, and who couldn't wait to come home to me. He'd want to show me to all his friends and we'd go for drives in the country on Sundays and find a dear little restaurant to have lunch and a glass of wine.

We'd have a house where all the repairs were taken care of. We'd not hoard anything but live minimally. It wouldn't be about possessions but it would be about living comfortably in a well maintained environment.

He'd want to give to others. I'd go on doing volunteer work in schools but he'd have a more overarching view about giving. He'd have a few special interest groups of which he'd give his time and funds.

We'd have a life together. I'd cherish him, adore him, and pray to God every night that we'd have one more day in this heaven on Earth beside one another. That kind of happiness, oh dear, wouldn't it be rich!

Monday, September 11, 2017

Building a Successful Life

In terms of a power exchange relationship people talk of the arrangement sometimes as an energy exchange. Different people have different things to say. I've heard and read of it as an exchange of two different types of personality, 'She loves to give and I love to take, so it works for both of us.'

I've thought of it as an ideal combining of two different types of people; one who enjoys taking the lead and one who is happy to be led. Not that nearly anyone wants to be led in all ways and at all times, but rather the relationship can express the synchronicity of the coupling and then details can be adjusted as required.

The lovely things to be said about an energy exchange between such people all imply that the relationship is undertaken with intelligence, with intention and with respect. There needs to be some consistency, acknowledgement of strengths and weaknesses, together with an awareness that life challenges will interfere with smooth sailing at times. It needs to be real.

A psychologist is likely to be concerned about power relationships if they get the sense that the relationship looks more like an Empath being taken advantage of by a Narcissist. Empaths can become what is known as pathological givers. They tend to feel that if they give to the Other what he or she needs, they will be loved and be given what they need automatically. The narcissist doesn't necessarily feel this way or indeed follow that sort of thinking.

This is probably what separates a power exchange that is healthy from one that is unhealthy. If both people have their needs met, who can argue with that? But, if one person has permanently unmet needs, that's not a good thing.

People whose needs are not met would do well to explain themselves, but there is no guarantee that this will sort the matter out. There may be an uptick in reciprocity but chances are only average that there will be a permanent change in mindset. It is the rare person, and particularly so if they have a demanding or set disposition, that can change themselves to suit another person.

The empath/submissive can be so frustrated that she might rage but ultimately he or she must accept the reality of being locked into a relationship that lacks reciprocity; where the Other is unable to feel his or her pain.

Putting aside this relationship for a moment and considering all relationships in our lives, what is a wise way to think about them as a whole? Some friendships are deeper - and smoother - than others, but as we age we come to see that all friendships and all relationships have an internal mechanism.

As much as we might like to get to know someone more intimately, or to feel closer to a friend, or to wish that the waitress in the Diner who brings us our chicken salad sandwich would crack a smile, there is only so much we can do to change these circumstances.

I believe that there are ways we can influence relationships. Speaking to someone with a respectful tone when explaining what you want them to do makes the exchange more friendly as a rule. If someone begins to shout staying calm can help them to settle. We can do what we know to do. But, we can't change people's intentions or motivations or personality.

In the same way we can talk to someone with whom we exchange energy in a power exchange, but it doesn't guarantee change. It depends on their drivers - their level of distraction, their understanding of what is important in their minds; what they want. This is a relationship no different to any other really except for the fact that it could be a parasitic relationship, and that's dangerous.

Some relationships are very stressful. When someone is on the alert for the changes of mood of someone, walking on eggshells, looking out for red flags, that's very stressful. Apart from the psychological pain that ensues, the body is subject to chronic inflammation. An empath's energetic field can be so open he or she can neglect the body.

It's clear that it's no small amount of work to solve these issues when an empath or submissive has found herself in the orbit of a  Narcissist who is ambivalent. Certainly this post can't solve this complex problem except that I would like to offer three suggestions that could, in time, give such a person the strength they need to assess the situation with clarity; to make positive change.

1) A meditative practice, being the witness to your own mind, teaches you to think with clarity and awareness that will stand you in good stead for the rest of your life.

2) Resilience is not something that we either have or don't have. You can teach yourself to go without and in doing so attain a sense of empowerment. Going without something, perhaps sugar or salt or tv for a time is a good start in this practice. As you learn that you can indeed go without you will see with clarity and discrimination what to say 'no' to, and what to say 'yes' to.

3) Develop patience. 'I can wait.' This will give you strength.

We are all made up of strengths and weaknesses and we can be grateful for both. A focus on the weaknesses is a learning prompt and encourages compassion. It is all experience. Nothing is lost.