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healing Letting go Mental Health Mindfulness psychology Toxic Relationships

Seeking Meaning As A Tortured Soul

Don’t let the term, “tortured soul” fool you with it’s negative connotation.

A tortured soul is someone persistently seeking meaning. The saying, “everything happens for a reason,” just isn’t good enough. What is that reason? Who is dictating such things? Is there even a spiritual or religious force behind it or are things just the way they are for no good reason?

I have sat with my thoughts countless amount of nights contemplating every possible explanation for the misfortunes I encountered to the degree of mental exhaustion. Sounds pretty unhealthy, right? And it is.

There’s no denying that beating a dead horse will get you absolutely nowhere except stain your white tee with splattered blood and guts.  Why is acknowledging this truth never enough to halt the obsessive rumination? 

Tortured souls have the tendency to dwell on misfortunes and wallow in negative emotions with intent to achieve a heightened state of awareness. We perceive this awareness may result in growth and self-development, so the outcome becomes satisfying. Only then, do we believe we gained something positive, hence concluding it meant something, and we’re better for it.

Not only do tortured souls seek to uncover hidden meaning, but we also yearn to contribute to the good of society. We tend to express the self creatively. Successful creative expression often stems from painful experiences. Dwelling on these emotions becomes an outlet of self-expression. Suffering sucks, and it is not only inevitable, but can be the source of creating a beautiful masterpiece.

The reason I use the word tortured, is because a search for meaning can engulf and swallow you whole, leading way to a destructive path. Wallowing in self-pity occurs when you’re unable to find peace in a situation. Since creative expression is common during these moments, one may become too comfortable in isolation.

After a while, it becomes a normalized state, and the ability to creatively channel pain is lost to saturation. So, how do you greet it with peace and close the door? If you feel stuck, it’s time to take action. Sometimes, the insight we seek is driven by our own insecurity or inability to let go. Instead of clinging, empathize with yourself. It’s okay to feel what you feel. No explanation needed. You could beat yourself up for it or you can accept it.

We perpetuate negative feelings by choosing to focus on it. When we form a habit to empathize with ourselves and fully comprehend that our current state does not have to be our permanent state, the situation becomes less frightening.

Don’t give your pain a home. It’s a visitor and it’s not meant to stay.

-Jessica Bruno LMHC

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Emotionally Unavailable healing Letting go love Narcissism Narcissistic Abuse Psychology Relationships Toxic Love Uncategorized

Does distance truly make the heart grow fonder?

We all know the saying and we’ll use it from time to time to make ourselves feel better when facing a shit circumstance… but is it true?

Here’s the thing. Absence does make the heart grow fonder. Love releases chemicals within the brain that are similar to the effects of cocaine. When removed, just like cocaine, distance creates symptoms of withdrawal within the body.

The brain became accustomed to the euphoric release of chemicals and without them, functioning becomes impaired for a short period of time. Like drug addiction, the body’s dependent on their drug, so when devoid, intense cravings occur, along with uncomfortable physical symptoms.

Most individuals crave and miss their partner during distance. Their presence was comforting, familiar, and felt good, however, not everyone will experience this phenomenon.

An emotionally unavailable partner is likely to reach out during distance when bored or lonely, but not because their heart grew founder. Why?

Any symptoms of withdrawal such as cravings or missing their partner, is considered a negative emotion, so when experienced it’s habitually suppressed.

Boredom and loneliness, although negative emotions, are also suppressed, however, they’re present enough for action to take place, but it’s not authentic. It’s like a watered down juice; you taste the flavor, but not nearly as strong.

When feelings are wholeheartedly expressed, withdrawal produces impairment and takes time to recover because the body’s essentially detoxing. If you loved and cared deeply for someone, it’s natural to feel deeply saddened by the loss.

It’s also important to consider that an emotionally unavailable partner or a narcissist, have sought out a replacement, filling that void. Since incapable of creating lasting, meaningful relationships, it’s likely they’ll reach out when that replacement ends, like it inevitably does.

If you find this dilemma is applicable to your current situation, just remember that you’re not an option, especially when they’re bored or lonely. Not to sound crude but…. fuck that.

Be with someone who treats you like the main course.. not a platter of desserts to pick and choose which one to indulge in.

-Jessica Bruno LMHC

Categories
healing Letting go Mindfulness Psychology Relationships Toxic Relationships Uncategorized

Your Love Won’t Save Him

Letting go of someone you love deeply is a very hard fucking thing to do. Grieving over someone who’s alive feels strange. He’s not dead, but it’s easier to behave as if he is, because thats the best route to take when moving forward.

It’s even harder to let go when the decision to do so feels forced due to circumstance. I loved someone in a way I never thought was possible and not only was he emotionally unavailable, but dabbled with cocaine a little too frequently. (that’s a nice understatement )

For over a year I tried to help, which of course, pushed him away. He showed interest in changing but actions remained the same and yet I persisted.

In retrospect, attempting to change someone who’s not willing is selfish. Of course, I cared and wanted to see him be his best self, but more importantly, I was so blinded by love, I never considered that I was sick of feeling heartbroken.

If he improved then maybe I’d stop hurting or he’d be “normal,” and treat me the way I deserve to be treated. Sadly, I ended the relationship. We didn’t date very long but that didn’t stop me from seeing him in hope he’d eventually realize what he lost, deciding it’s time to change.

It never happened and I can’t say I believed it ever would. Despite having a constant taste of reality in my mouth, I didn’t give up, and he broke my heart several times- each time progressively worse.

Letting go of someone who’s incapable of authentic love really sucks when you’re committed to fight for it, but in reality- it’s not going to happen. I’m not saying it never will, but the decision isn’t yours to make.

You’re not giving up on love because you’re tired of setting yourself on fire and burning for someone while he looks the other way.

I’m still in the midst of healing and I won’t lie and say it’s been easy or devoid of relapses, but I’d like to share a few tips that really help the process.

1. Acceptance & Honesty:

Holding on to someone who makes you feel lost, anxious, and upset is wasted energy. You’re doing yourself a disservice when you could be directing that energy inward to eventually crawl out of the darkness. The first step must be acceptance. It is what it is. You cannot change someone who doesn’t want to be changed. It’s not fair to you or him. Accept him for who he currently is. How does he fit into your life? Chances are he doesn’t. Be honest about the situation. Acknowledge the damage it ensues within your life and take action. Letting go is an act of self love and respect.

2. Commitment:

Its not enough to merely accept the situation and decide to let go. You must commit to that acceptance. From here on out, you dedicate yourself to the journey, making healthy actions that guide you forward rather than keep you stuck.

3. Ride the waves:

You also must understand there will be moments of emotional turbulence. We often backtrack any progress made when reacting to heightened emotions, instead of riding that wave. It comes and goes. You won’t feel that way forever. Once you successfully ride a few waves, they lose their momentum- occurring less frequently and won’t pull you all the way under.

Remain compassionate and self comfort during dark moments. You’re the only one who can truly make YOU feel better. It won’t be him.

You have all the tools necessary to let go and move forward, you just have to use them.

-Jessica Bruno LMHC

Categories
healing Letting go love Narcissistic Abuse psychology Relationships Toxic Love Toxic Relationships

Narcissism Isn’t A Choice – It’s A Mental Disorder

When healing from narcissistic abuse, the aftermath of confusion and pain are often the focus of conversation.

Of course, it’s healthy to discuss and understand your relationship with a narcissist, but I’ve noticed an important aspect missing in that conversation.

Narcissism is a mental illness. In the DSM-5: The Diagnostic and Statistical Manuel of Mental Disorders, (also my version of google) refers to this illness as Narcissist Personality Disorder.

For an individual to meet criteria for diagnosis, five of the following nine symptoms must be present:

  • 1. Grandiose sense of self- importance
  • 2. Preoccupation with fantasies of success, brilliance, power, ideal love, and beauty.
  • 3. A belief that he or she is special or unique and can only be understood by likeminded individuals.
  • 4. A need for excessive admiration
  • 5. A sense of entitlement
  • 6. Exploitative behaviors
  • 7. A lack of empathy ***
  • 8. Envy of others or belief others are envious of them
  • 9. Arrogant or haughty attitude and behaviors

A disclaimer is paramount: behavior ranges on a spectrum. Not all individuals who display a few of these symptoms meet criteria for diagnosis. The average person will experience moments of self-importance, arrogance, entitlement, or a need for admiration, etc.

During an evaluation, presence of symptoms is not enough- duration and frequency are essential components when considering diagnosis. A person who exhibits such symptoms for a short period of time, on a less frequent basis, will not qualify for narcissistic personality disorder.

An individual must present with five out of nine symptoms, beginning in early childhood and also occurring in multiple situations. A desire for admiration, sense of entitlement, arrogance, in romantic relations alone- isn’t enough.

An individual fitting criteria for diagnosis would frequently meet five symptoms with an early onset, causing impairment in several domains of life- social, vocational, educational, and relationships.

Being aware of this is important for healing to take place. You were dealing with a mentally ill individual that operates under a skewed and irrational perception of reality. If he doesn’t acknowledge or seek intensive therapy, he’ll continue to suffer from NPD.

Nothing was your fault. Take it with a grain of salt and never take his actions personally. There’s nothing you could have done differently to change him. It’s a decision he must make. If forced upon him, it would only lead to resentment and under such circumstance, improvement is rarely effective.

All that confusion, frustration, and mental exhaustion wears you down, to the degree of questioning your own sanity. You were in love with an individual who currently lacks capability to think and behave rationally, using manipulation and exploitation as means of communication.

You’re not crazy, dramatic, or asked for too much. You were a vicim responding to a confusing and abusive situation.

This weight is not yours to carry.

It’s time to put it down.

-Jessica Bruno LMHC

Categories
Emotionally Unavailable healing Letting go love Narcissism Narcissistic Abuse Relationships Toxic Relationships

The price is your soul

How much are you willing to spend on making a relationship work?

With a narcissist, the price is non-negotiable. Just remember, if you need to obtain a loan, the lender can change your fixed interest rate, and considering the circumstance it could add up to the cost of your soul. Are you sure you can afford this?

Soul Suckers

When referring to narcissists, I’m sure you’re familiar with the term “energy vampires,” but personally I like to call them soul suckers. Yes, a narcissist sucks the energy out of people like a vampire does blood, but the cost isn’t death, it’s your soul.

A “soul” is defined as the essence and spirit of a person. For just a moment, place aside any religious beliefs you may have, and consider this definition in context of the present moment (like being alive and shi*t.) What do you like about yourself? What makes you special, talented, or unique?

That’s your soul. It gives you character. When feeling good, you’re connected and catering to those personal aspects, allowing them to flourish. Perhaps, they make you feel alive or important, like your time on planet earth is meant for great success. While at your best, life has meaning and you’re striding to either find or make that happen.

And inevitably, there are moments when you feel like crap, as if taking out the trash is an impossible task, because everywhere you go, there you are, and it’s an offensive, lingering smell. A shower doesn’t do the trick- you tried scrubbing, exfoliating, but after the tenth time, you raised the white flag. Feeling alive but vacant in a body you no longer feel is yours.

Finding your way back to normalcy feels intimidating like, “Where do I begin when I constantly feel like throwing up. I’m going to win world’s first person to reach china via projectile vomit?” Seem’s impossible, I get it.

When dating a narcissist, that’s the price you pay: your soul. All your amazing attributes took a hitchhike and got murdered by a sociopath in the woods, pretending to be a lumberjack in the state of New Mexico. It’s really not a fun time.

A narcissist will pick you up and throw you so far away from yourself, it feels like traveling to China, without GPS to go track yourself down. He’s spectacular at draining energy from your soul, and each day, it works- leaving you more disconnected and exhausted. It’s like wondering if you’ll ever feel normal again and can you even remember what that feels like?

A cloud of irritability follows you and everyone notices, wondering why you’re so snappy, unmotivated, or disinterested in doing the things you used to love? You’re not attending the birthday dinner for Uncle Jack, but not due to a busy schedule. Your energy meter ran out last week and you’re too broke to fill it.

Threats, manipulation, and deception leave a narcissist with complete control. He becomes the sole beneficiary and you? Well, practically dead. Time and effort expended on someone who lacks capability to feel human compassion, remorse, and empathy. All those times, expressing how he made you feel like trash, were wasted because he didn’t care to understand.

Gravitational Pull

It’s your soul that matched you with this mess- quite literally. A narcissist is drawn to those who contradict them. You have feelings- he hardly has any. People love to say narcissists seek out weak individuals, but that couldn’t be more inaccurate. To feel what you feel takes incredible strength– because it hurts.

Willingness to place yourself in a vulnerable situation, surrendering to the outcome is a power move. Burying uncomfortable feelings is not, it’s running from fear. *Avoids to conserve weak ego* I’ll speak for myself when I say the latter sounds a lot weaker.

Unfortunately, a narcissist sees otherwise. To him, displays of emotion and compassion are not only a sign of weakness but a place to profit. The more understanding you are, the better off. It’s a safe space from judgement and it means you’re less likely to leave and more willing to empathize. Of course, a narcissist understands to get there he must prep and prime by introducing to you….his false self.

Crafting a perfect partner, one who meets all your needs and fall hopelessly in love with. He spent time listening to you, getting to know your wants, likes, dislikes. This intel is used as material for impersonation. Once successful in winning your devotion and love, their true self will be unmasked.

A narcissist will never choose a partner he’s ashamed of. He’s sized you up and wants to show you off as arm candy. After all, his image is sacred and the woman he chooses will support that.

Both parties see potential in each other. You see someone who can fulfill your relationship needs and he sees a weak partner who’s trappable. Trouble arises when the big reveal occurs and his manipulation has been successful.

You see how he treats you. You feel it, but why do you stay if what initially drew you in, is no longer there? You don’t knock on a door when you know no ones inside.

Is it because you already feel vulnerable? He alienated you from loved ones while making you doubt everyone and everything in your life. He used your insecurities as a knife to stab you in the back. So, why?

Did he initially help you forget a disliked aspect about yourself? Was he giving you something you couldn’t provide yourself? And even though it’s not the man you fell for, are you staying in hope that he’s somewhere in there, willing to open that door?

I’ll leave you with these questions to consider. With that answer, you’ll find the key. And by the way… you always had it.

Now open your own damn door ( I say this with love)

-Jessica Bruno LMHC




Categories
Education Emotionally Unavailable healing Letting go love Narcissism Narcissistic Abuse psychology Relationships Toxic Relationships

2 Early, Crucial Warning Signs You May Be Dating A Covert Narcissist.

How do you see a warning sign, if it appears to you, an embellished gift? Ironically, early signs can be brushed over by the compelling features of a new relationship. Unless one lives cautiously, with a skeptical perspective, is it plausible to consider, a decorative gift may be an empty box of cardboard….or worse, a king snake?

It’s too good to be true”:

Are they showering you with attention, gifts, compliments, while confessing, “I don’t usually do this.” Super weird, because they seem to naturals at it. If you’re struggling to find a flaw in your partner, they could be love bombing you. I would like to declare, “putting your best face forward,” doesn’t indicate an insecure individual, but I can’t. Sure maybe on a job interview, but a relationship? I don’t think so. A secure individual understands it’s healthy to show up and present as your true self because having flaws is not only human, but unique. I always say, if they’re seemingly “perfect,” a relationship is not what they’re after, its validation and admiration.

When they can no longer put their best face forward, and their mask begins to slip off, issues arise. People pretending to be someone they’re not, aren’t satisfied with who they are, and because that demands deflection, they’ll never be satisfied with you, regardless what you offer. A partnership inevitably requires work, and if they were in it for the long haul, they wouldn’t have entered as a different person.

Best sex you’ve ever had:

I’m not delusional enough to suggest this is a problem without stipulation. If you were mind blown after the first time you had sex, and almost every single time afterwards, it might be a performance, especially, if he often makes comments, or asks questions relating to the sex or his capacity to make you feel good. For a covert narcissist to feel important, he must impress you and win you over. Look for signs of sexually compulsive behavior, that indicate a point is trying to be made, for example; initiating sex, back to back with little breaks in between. (I’m talking multiple times in a short period)

The last thing is to look for signs of ownership, specifically within the first few engagements. Look, if you’re into roleplaying and what not, by all means- fantastic, but if he treats your body as if he already know’s it, when he should be learning- not fantastic. Unless there was a beforehand discussion on what you’re into, and what you like, he shouldn’t act like he knows, at least not so damn confidently.

-Jessica Bruno, LMHC

Categories
Education Emotionally Unavailable healing Letting go love Narcissism Narcissistic Abuse psychology relationships Relationships Toxic Relationships

You can’t reach someone who isn’t there.

Hi and welcome, I’m Jessica, your candid, probably too candid, cyber blogger, and …..someone else’s therapist.

I’m happy to see that you’ve fallen and crashed into my blog instead of colliding, dead smack into another emotionally disconnected, avoidant partner. If you ever decide to return, I’ll make sure it’s a meaningful experience, filled with promising revelations and insights. You have my word. I’m also not your ex, so comparatively speaking, this is a promising start.

Before I discuss the premise of my blog, in other words, why you’re reading this and what you’re (hopefully) here for, I’ll start with a brief background introduction. I obtained a bachelors degree in Sociology from Coastal Carolina University as well as a masters degree in Mental Health Counseling, Applied Psychology at New York University.

I have experience treating adults with mental health disorders such as anxiety, depression, PTSD, panic, bipolar disorders, and substance use disorders, in addition to individuals struggling to cope with life stressors, relationships, family, work, death etc.

If you had asked me, face to face, what I do for a living, *assuming history repeats itself* it’s likely you’d ask one of three questions, “Are you gonna psychoanalyze me?” or “Cool, can you help me figure out why I’m so fucked up?” But nothing takes the cake, quite like this one, “Are you gonna…read my mind?” No, I don’t have superpowers but I one hundred percent wish I did.

Although this transaction is virtual, I can’t psychoanalyze you, personally at least, but in a way, I already have. If you’ve been trying to reach an emotionally unavailable partner, again and again, then we’re on the same page, and therefore, I say with confidence I’ve been psychoanalyzing those (also you) who present with this issue. I wanted to understand why certain people are attracted to and consistently find themselves in a relationship with such partners.

Several answers to this question are out there, floating throughout cyber space, but I wasn’t satisfied by the half-assed articles I read. For a complex topic, I was also shocked to see a small selection of available self- help books on the internet, so I began writing one.

I referenced my studies of psychology, experience working as a therapist, and my own personal experience, to consider all angles and formed my own answers. Yes, my fascination, as well as dedication to intellectually rationalize this two party dynamic is quite personal. I share tidbits of my experience in my book, and I’ll do the same, here, in future posts.

Why you should give this attention:

If you’re tired of dating the same person with a different face, feeling disregarded and rejected by inconsiderate, detached, and selfish partners, I resonate with those frustrations. If you’ve ever asked, “How did I get here?” or “Why am I here again?” then time and space has been kind to lead you here.

My blog is dedicated to answer those questions, encourage healing, and help you cultivate intellectual weapons to fight off the possibility of colliding into a relationship like that ever again.

If you’re willing to be challenged and face brutal truths, we have some work ahead of us, so, I must ask you for one thing and one thing only.

When presented with this mirror, I need you to look.

Till the next reflection.

-Jessica Bruno, LMHC