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Education healing Mental Health Mindfulness Psychology

The Truth About Being Happy

Everyone wants to be happy. It’s not an abnormal desire. We’re here, on this planet for a short period of time, so it’s natural to deter feelings of misery or pain. It’s not fun and it doesn’t feel good.

For most, the concept of happiness has taken a left turn. People seek it as if it’s some attainable permanent mood, which is entirely counterproductive.

Happiness is not something you win like unlocking new levels on a video game. Even if you’re listed on a leader board, will that be good enough, or will you find another game to beat?

Life is full of unexpected problems. That’s the inevitable truth. People you love will die. Shit won’t work out the way you hoped or planned. People will break your heart and betray you. That’s life. But, does that mean you can’t “be happy?”

When problems slap us in the face, happiness feels like a distant destination. Perhaps, we’re on the wrong road, or maybe, it’s a place we’ll simply never get to. Obviously, these defeating thoughts can easily become a self fulfilling prophecy.

Sitting with pain is not something the mind and body particularly enjoys. In fact, like a machine, it’s hardwired to protect against invading stimulus. Consider a terrorist attack on ones homeland. Immediately, forces are set in place to protect and defend the country against further casualties.

Successful or not, the threat remains present. Plans will be devised to prevent a similar attack from occurring but bad blood remains. What they decide to do about it, isn’t the point, because if a solution exists, the aftermath of destruction doesn’t disappear. It happened. It’s real. People will suffer the consequence.

Our body works in a similar fashion, immediately defending from outside threats and attacks. It may successfully avoid, distract, or escape the pain, but it’s still there.

Staying present and falling into the wave feels unnatural. Our bodies are conditioned to enter survival mode, but unless you’re living in a jungle, continually attacked by primal species, reactivity is unnecessary.

As humans, it’s tremendously difficult to sit with pain, and unfortunately, it’s the only way to successfully banish it. Happiness is temporary, and so is pain. It comes in waves. Riding the wave as it comes, rather than fighting against it, is useful when hit with the next wave. The current won’t be as strong, the wave will be less demanding, and it arrives at your shore less and less.

Training the body to respond differently requires self awareness when trivial threats arise. Instead of habitually responding without much thought or logic, remain open to the “attack.”

It’s not going to kill you, and in fact, your body becomes resilient. Giving space for pain to exist is like paving a road to a “happier” existence. The more resilient you are, the less defensive you’ll be. Situations that were once deemed problematic are suddenly nonsensical and silly.

Although you’ll never reside inside of a permanent happy bubble, you’ll learn to withstand discomfort, and that alone is a freeing existence.

-Jessica Bruno

Categories
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 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
Education healing love psychology Relationships

They Always Come Back


You’re finally feeling like your old self again. All those days stuck in fear, wondering if you’ll ever move on are now thoughts of the past…and then bam! Out of nowhere, he pops up, creeping his way in with a plan to hijack your mind. And it works.

Why does this happen now, when you’re practically touching the finish line? It’s like he turns into a canine dog with advanced receptors in his nose, getting a whiff of you moving on and then tracking you down.

It’s selfish love. If this isn’t the first time, it’s likely you’ve fallen in this trap before. How did that work out? Probably not well.

An emotionally unavailable man, sensing their ex moving on, is hit with unresolved conflict. Their immaculate ability to repress emotions has reached a dead end street.

All those notes, brainstormed and carefully written into your phone, later sending as text messages, (I know the deal) fed his ego. He’s now feeling uneasy….or even worse- emotional.

He doesn’t want you to move on. What if you find someone better than him? What if you never speak to him again? If he’s so concerned, why didn’t he consider that before? Because he’s emotionally unavailable and loves conditionally.

True love has no conditions. Using affection as a tool for control isn’t love. There are strings attached- expectations.

Unconditional love doesn’t seek rewards. Love isn’t some business transaction. What do I get in return? Like a puppy, scratching at your door, tail in-between his legs; he’s looking for compensation. No matter what he says or does, it’s driven by an urge to feel he still matters.

To give him that is to satisfy his fragile ego. It wasn’t undying love that brought him back to you. Sounds brutal but it’s the truth. An emotionally unavailable man would have to confront his issues, which requires acknowledgment and uncomfortable work.

Unless he says, “Hey I’ve been in therapy for the past few months and realized I wasn’t ready for a relationship but I’ve made progress and would love a second chance at trying.” If you laughed, like I did, it’s probably because it’s hard to imagine this ever happening.

Don’t backtrack on your progress for someone who’s not progressing. Practice self-care, meet your own needs, and direct energy toward your passions.

It may sound cliche, but life really is too short. Don’t waste your time on shallow individuals, mindlessly chasing a bone because in a few days, they’ll trade it in for something new.

Only a boy offers a woman breadcrumbs. Love yourself enough to know you deserve the whole fucking meal.

-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