Should I Say or Should I Go?

Tony tackles the question he receives the most from listeners, should I stay or should I go? And if I decide to go, when? Plus he discusses what the training of ordinary mice to go through mazes can tell us about ourselves from Vanessa Van Edwards’s article “Expectancy Effect: Improve Performance With This Human Behavior Quirk,” from 

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WUTN stay or go 2022-04-22.mp3

[00:00:07] Hey, welcome to episode 31 of waking up the Narcissism. I am your host, Tony Overbay. I’m a licensed marriage and family therapist and host of the Virtual Couch podcast. And just very quickly, quick item of business. I’ve been talking about this marriage workshop that I recorded a few weeks ago, and now you can go to Tony over Baker slash workshop. And I really do lay out what the tools are to try and have a connected conversation, what it means to be differentiated, what it looks like to be two autonomous, interdependent people in a relationship, and how that relationship could actually thrive. And I say this on this podcast, on the virtual couch, I’m talking about marriage therapy, I’m talking about all things mental health. But on this one, I again, I want you to know that there’s a part of me that says, all right, am I is that wrong of me to say, hey, here’s a marriage workshop? Because there’s a potential that in a narcissistic relationship, your spouse will then use that against you? Well, you’re not doing any of these things. But my point, this is absolutely not anything that you need to watch or take or do with your spouse, which sounds so crazy as a marriage therapist. But I really feel like the purpose of this workshop that I put on was to let people even know what a healthy relationship looks like from somebody that’s worked with well over 1000 couples over the last 17, 18 years.

[00:01:19] So that is me stepping into my healthy ego and saying that I understand we don’t have the tools in a relationship when we get in a relationship simply because we don’t. Those aren’t the tools that come from the factory. So when I sometimes talk about the destination and the destination is, can you imagine yourself in this healthy relationship where you’re two autonomous people with your own hopes and dreams and desires, and you go through life looking at everything with curiosity and you’re able to stand in your own calm, confident energy. I know that I feel like somebody saying, Where’s the unicorn? Where’s the pot of gold? And I understand that I just put this workshop on. It’s about an hour to 90 minutes so that people will just have an idea, plan to see that, Oh, this is what he’s talking about. And man, yes, that would be amazing. But I don’t know how to get there. And the goal of that workshop is just to say, here’s what it looks like. None of us probably saw that growing up. We didn’t probably see that modeled. And then when we are in unhealthy relationships, sometimes we think it’s maybe not as bad as I think it is. Or we also may think that I wonder if everybody else is going through the same thing and if you’re in an emotionally abusive, spiritually abusive, financially abusive, an unhealthy relationship, it’s not it’s not the way that it should be.

[00:02:31] And man, passionate, fired up here just a minute or two into the intro. So this can be a fun episode, but go to Tony over Macomb Workshop and there you find that workshop. There’s a small cost. I will refund that to you immediately. If you are in a financially abusive situation, which I know can be the case, then shoot me an email. Honestly, I will. I will waive that fee. I know that’s probably not the smartest business decision, but I don’t care because I know that a lot of the people that are listening to this podcast don’t even feel comfortable buying something on the Internet. And I, man, I see you. I really do. I just want people to understand, here’s what a relationship could look like. So let me get to today’s topic. I’m going to read a couple of emails and one of them, it has so much detail in the person sent it to me saying, When you have a chance, I need advice and it breaks my heart. It’s a woman who has been in a relationship well over 40 years and her husband is gone a lot of the time. Her husband has a mother who is very ill and she feels like she is just now waking up to what narcissism looks like or means. She feels heard and understood, but also very afraid and scared because she says that she is confident that when the spouse’s mother passes away, that then there is going to be so much leverage that he has for where they live and their situation.

[00:03:49] So trying to spare details for sure. But she said something here where it just broke my heart, where she said, my dilemma is once some of these events happen, how can I stay strong? I know that he’s going to use it to manipulate me over and over again. He has me terrified after so many years, on and off with abuse, and I’m so new at learning the strategies. I’m afraid he’s going to I’m afraid I’m going to give in many times during the last months the situation that they’re in where they’re living right now, she said. My story has so much more. She’s so kind, she says, I don’t want to take up your time. And she just says, I’m afraid I’m going to give in. And so before I even get to the should I stay or should I go, I want to talk about something called the expectancy effect. This is such an interesting concept and I brought it up on my men’s support group last night, which is about addiction. I have a pornography recovery support group called The Path Back, and it’s a wonderful group of that. One’s a group for men. And maybe right now is the time to say if you’re a woman who feels like you’re in a relationship, there is narcissism in any of its forms or emotional immaturity.

[00:04:51] And we’re talking a spouse, we’re talking siblings work institution. Then I have a private Facebook group for you, so feel free to reach out to me. But I mentioned last night this concept of the expectancy effect and I talked about this on the virtual couch long ago, but I find that some. Then I see myself bringing up in counseling in my therapy office quite often. So let me tell you a little story. This is from a website called Science of, and it’s called The Expectancy Effect Improve Performance with this Human Behavior Quirk by Vanessa van Edwards. So she says, have you ever heard of the expectancy effect? Once upon a time, a pair of adventurous researchers had participants undergo a unique experiment. They were told that they had to train rats to quickly make it through a maze. So imagine yourself being handed some rats and being told you have to get them through this maze as fast as you can. That is your job. You’re going to train them. Half of the participants were told that they had maze bright rats that were carefully bred to be highly adept at completing mazes. So you’re probably hoping that you got the group where you have these maze brite rats, these rats that genetically have been engineered in some way science to get through these mazes very quickly. The other half of the group were told that they had Maze Doll rats, they had the laziest rats.

[00:06:06] These rats just hung out. Don’t know what they did. They just they just don’t do anything. And so they had no training, completing mazes. The participants had five days to train the rats to complete the maze. And I wish I wish that there was more about what that training looked like. Was there Rocky music? Do they have them out running up the stairs in Philadelphia? But whatever it was, I don’t even know how I would train a mouse to run through a maze. But boy, I would be so much happier if I had these maze brite rats, these one that had been bred to go through the maze quickly. So she says, of course, there was a catch. There was absolutely no difference between the two groups of rats. Both sets of participants got randomly selected rats with absolutely no maze experience at all. And she said, Yeah, you read that right? The rats were exactly the same. But the participants were told that the participants who were told they had faster rats somehow helped the rats actually perform better. And the study has been repeated, she said over and over. And it is called the expectancy effect. So the expectancy effect is when somebody expects a given result, that expectation unconsciously affects the outcome or report of the expected result. I have. Someone asked me recently my thoughts around manifestation can you manifest things? And there’s a part of me that is wants to do a very solid psychological explanation of manifestation.

[00:07:20] I love this therapy modality called acceptance and commitment therapy, where you have to find what matters to you, find something that is in alignment with your values. And the example I often give is I had a client once who came in and they said, I want to be a realtor because my friend is a realtor and he is making a lot of money. So I am going to make it so I’m going to manifest that I’m going to be a realtor. But if this person really doesn’t care about real estate now I start worrying that know what this person is going to do is set themselves up somewhat for failure and disappointment, where if they don’t really care, have a core value around real estate, that they are going to find any and everything to do other than study real estate. And that’s what’s called a socially compliant goal. They’re doing this because they think they’re supposed to or that they will let someone else down if they’re not doing this. And when you are following a socially compliant goal or for, quite frankly, living a socially compliant life, then you’re going to find a lot of things to do as a distraction, and then you’re going to feel like you’re not really living up to your sense of purpose. They call it experiential avoidance. I will I will go play on my phone, I’ll answer emails.

[00:08:20] I’ll do anything other than study real estate because I really don’t care. So in this concept around manifesting, I thought I was very smart in saying that if you you have to have a value around whatever you’re passionate about. I look at I spent ten years in the computer industry not even knowing how little I cared about that industry. But I find therapy and all of a sudden I love this stuff. I can read about it all day. I love talking with people. I love understanding how they tick. And that’s what has led me to find the modalities that I do, the passion that I do, doing the podcast, writing a book. And so there I can manifest the heck out of my life there because I’m reading and thinking and doing and I’m around people that have like minded beliefs. And so there I am manifesting that and I have manifested myself all the way to a couple of podcasts, best selling book and a thriving therapy practice. Standing in my healthy ego, I realize I’m literally talking on a narcissism podcast, and that sounded narcissistic, but there’s healthy ego, there’s pathological defensive of narcissism. So with this expectancy effect, I feel like this is go back to what Vanessa said. When someone expects a given result, that expectation is unconsciously. It unconsciously affects the outcome or report of the expected result. So can you just all of a sudden manifest or have this expectation around something that you truly don’t believe? Well, I’ve started to change my tune a little bit, that the fact that the person even put out there to the universe or whatever you want to put it, the idea of real estate, even if they’re pushing against real estate, it’s there.

[00:09:45] And I would imagine that they’re going to start to slightly pay more attention to the concept around real estate. Now, ideally, I want somebody to find their true value and passion and then run toward it. But as I’m putting all these pieces together, let me let me mend this together. The idea of the expectation effect, the idea of manifesting your future. You’re doing that if you’re listening to the. This podcast. If you are listening to this and you are the emotionally immature, nay, you’ve been told, I think you’re narcissistic, then you’re listening. So you’re starting to hear these concepts. You might be pushing back against them, but but there’s a chance they can start to resonate over time. If you’re the person that is waking up to the narcissism in your life of a spouse or a sibling or a boss or an institution, then you may not feel like you are going to be able to get out of this. Like this listener said, I’m afraid that I’m going to fall back into the same patterns over and over. There’s a couple of concepts here. Number one, now let’s go. Expectation effect is that is I’m afraid I’m going to fall back into the same patterns.

[00:10:44] Is that are you a maze bright rat or are you a maze dull rat because you started out as just this didn’t sound like what I wanted to. Just a rat. No, you started out as a human being, but now are you treating yourself as what outcome are you looking for? What are you going to manifest in your life? So if you expect a given result, then unconsciously that is going to affect the outcome or report of that expected result. Vanessa in this article went on to say When a participant expects to have a certain kind of outcome, they will, without realizing it, change their actions and behaviors to actually get this outcome and this concept. I just want to plant the seed to give you some power that when participants in this study were told that they had maze bright rats, they unconsciously change their training, they change their expectations, and they made the rats perform better. When participants were told they had made dull rats, they unconsciously became worse teachers and didn’t train their rats as well. And again, dozens of studies, she says, have proven the expectancy effect outside of the lab with rats, dogs and humans alike. So she goes on to say that how to use the expectancy effect in in work in teams that you can. One of the single biggest mistakes a leader can make is to assume the worst.

[00:11:54] You you are the leader of your life. You are captain of your ship. And you might feel like your ship’s a little bit of a Deanie or that maybe it’s even this a little life raft or afloat. Maybe it’s floaties right now. But you’re captain of that ship and I want you, if you are in floaties, to start thinking about what that dinghy will look like. If you’re in a dinghy, I want you to start thinking. About what? I’m not a sailor, but the next boat up would look like. And I want you to start treating yourself as a maze, bright person. So I want you to start just having that expectancy effect. I want you to start putting it out there to the universe. Say it in your prayers, chanted whatever you need to do that you’re you’re going to figure this out and your brain is going to say, I don’t know, you haven’t so far. And I want you to just tell your brain. Thank you. I know you mean well. I know that you’re giving me anxiety. You’re giving me fear because you want me to survive. And it feels really scary to go out there and do something different, but use this concept of the expectancy effect and just just become a maze. Bright person. I was going to say rat again, but I’d rather you be a person, so be amazed. Bright person. Now that leads to the topic today.

[00:12:56] I’m going to go with another email of Should I stay or should I go? Let me read those class lyrics. I’m sorry I have to do this because I thought it really was fascinating. This is where I wish I had even a tiny bit musical talent. So the class lyrics and I don’t know when this came out, I feel like this was something in my own high o really state. 1982 I was in middle school, but I feel like I do remember when this song came out. So The Clash should I stay or should I go? Verse one, Darling, you got to let me know. Should I stay or should I go? I will jump right in. And let’s break this down, darling. You’ve got to let me know. Should I stay or should I go when I have people that are trying to start to think about exiting a relationship with a narcissist or an extremely emotionally immature person, they will often say things like, Hey, I don’t think that you’re happy. I’m not who you need in the relationship. And again, going back to the Clash lyrics, kind of doing this on the fly, you’ve got to let me know, should I stay or should I go? But when you’re putting that on the other person, you’re basically saying, Hey, can I hand you my buttons to push or can I give you that power? Because to the narcissist now you just handed them just gold to work with.

[00:14:04] They’re saying, Well, I don’t know, what are you going to do for me? What are you going to give me? But if I say I feel like this is not right for me, I feel like that I am not being the best person I can be. Now you’re still going to most likely get Gaslit. Well, that’s your problem. You know, I’m fine. I don’t see any problem in the relationship, and that’s where we have to just realize this. This is going to be a process. This really is so, darling, you’ve got to let me know. Should I stay or should I go? No. I want you to say this is where I’m coming from. The next lyric, the line says, If you say that you are mine, I’ll be here till the end of time. Trauma bond, anyone? Because if you just tell me, are you in? Are you willing to work on this? Or if that’s where you’re ready to leave? And then the spouse and I’ve got a couple of emails I can pull today where the spouse says, You know what, no, you’re right. I’ll do it. I’ll go to therapy. I think, well, what is this narcissism you speak of? I will read about it. I will do whatever it takes. So if you say that you are mine, I’ll be here till the end of time, says the person in the trauma bond. So you got to let me know.

[00:15:01] Should I stay or should I go? The the next line. The next verse, too. It’s always. Ts ts you’re happy when I’m on my knees. So when I finally break and I beg you to then know after I’ve been gaslit. No, please. You’re right. I’m grateful that you provide for the family. I’m grateful that you go to work every day. You’re right. It could be so much worse. What’s this? You say that I’m like my mom. Okay, thank you. That’s the last thing I want to become. So you’re happy? When? Now I’m down on my knees begging. And then the next line says, one day it’s fine, and next it’s black. So if you want me off your back, well, come on and let me know. Should I stay or should I go? So one day it’s fine. Next, it’s black. Talk about emotional disregulation. Talk about the push and pull of an emotionally immature, narcissistic relationship because that does put someone just on edge where they’re walking into a room and saying, All right, what’s the vibe? What do I have to do? How how do I show up here in order to keep the peace, to keep the peace for my kids or to keep my cortisol levels low? And this is one of those reasons why I get a lot of emails around the concept of highly sensitive person. Then a couple of episodes now where I’ve mentioned HSP or sensory processing sensitivity and why so many people with HSP find themselves in these narcissistic, emotionally abusive relationships or in these relationships with severely emotionally immature people.

[00:16:17] Because this person, the HSP, the highly sensitive person, has grown quite adept from their factory settings and learning how to read the room. They have these heightened mirror neurons. They learn how to look before entering. It’s almost in their DNA or their programing to try to figure out How do I show up here? And unfortunately, the way they’re showing up often is I’ll show up, however I need to, to keep the peace. So then the nurses continually feels at bay like things are okay, things are all right, even if the nurses is not aware of the role that they’re playing in that relationship. Versus three, the indecision is bugging me. If you don’t want me, set me free. Exactly whom I’m supposed to be. Don’t you know which clothes even fit me? Holy cow. This is about narcissism. I am sorry. The indecision is bugging me. So it is keeping my cortisol levels at an all time high. When my heart rate is elevated and my cortisol levels are high, then I am living in a world of fight or flight or freeze or fall on any of those. But none of that is in a place where I thrive. None of that is in a place where I can wake up in the morning and say, Hey, here’s what I think I’m going to do today, which is what a healthy relationship is all about.

[00:17:21] No, you’re waking up saying. Oh, hey, there’s the anxiety already. What’s today going to look like? And that’s where people find themselves just wanting to stay in bed. Because if I sleep this off, maybe tomorrow is going to be better. So if you don’t want me, set me free goes back to saying, I want the narcissist to say, Yeah, I think that I will let you out of this trauma bond, which is not going to happen exactly whom I’m supposed to be. Boy, talk about people that the emails I get, the people in the group, people that I work with who say I don’t know who I am, I don’t have a sense of self. And every time I try to find myself, I have to play that off of how how he or she is going to react. And that is, again, not the way a healthy relationship. I want my wife just desperately. And one of the things I just love about her is as she finds herself, as she finds the jewelry, she wants to now wear, the clothes she wants to wear, the things she wants to watch, the humor. Those are things that I love looking at with curiosity, because it’s so empowering to to have two people in a relationship as they’re going through life, they are going to experience change. Because when we are when we get married and we’re young and the world is ahead of us and it is our oyster, and we’re still in this love bombing.

[00:18:30] Everything that they say your spouse says is amazing and wonderful and you’re putting things aside, things that you feel like don’t really matter. You’re giving each other the benefit of the doubt because you feel like, you know what? Love will keep us in time. We’ll we’ll heal all wounds and all the other cliches that when people are saying that, that is that’s how it used to be. That’s because you’re both somewhat emotionally immature at that time. We’re both a little bit more codependent, a little more enmeshed. We’ve got these attachment wounds where we’re going to show up and say, No, I like those things too, and we want to keep the peace because things are just going to get better. But then you go through life, you graduate college, maybe you get a job, you have to move, you start having kids, and now is when life kicks in. And that is perfectly normal. But as life kicks in and you start having your own opinions and your own, you want to make these decisions. And now’s when the true emotional immaturity comes in, where if someone is just if it is all about them, then they are going to do whatever they can to get their needs met. I don’t want to do this, so I’m going to tell you how dumb that idea is.

[00:19:33] I don’t want to do this, so I’m going to gaslight you and say, okay, you’ve literally told me in the past that isn’t anything you’ve ever been interested to the point where then you’re all of a sudden questioning your own sanity, which goes back to exactly who I’m supposed to be, say, the Clash. And then this one’s interesting. And again, I’m making this stuff up. I will I will own every bit of this. But the next line says, Don’t you know which clothes even fit me when the so many times at the end of a narcissistic, emotionally immature or abusive relationship, there there are examples where the narcissist finally says, you know what, and I’m going to tell everybody about you and you I’m going to tell the kids, you don’t even care. I’m going to tell all these things. And it can feel very hurtful because that’s that narcissist pushing all the buttons at the end, trying to do whatever they can to get you back into that enmeshment and codependency. But what is happening is you’re realizing they have no idea who I am. They really don’t. They don’t even know which clothes even fit me. So the clash, they end it. Come on and let me know. Should I cool it or should I blow? So that is the question today. Should I cool it? Should I blow blow meeting? Should I get out of here? Should I stay or should I go? And we’re starting with this expectancy effect that I want you to view yourself.

[00:20:43] You are amazed, bright rat, my friend. And even though you started out as not really sure what to do, you’re waking up to the things that are happening within you. Your own emotional immaturity, your spouse’s emotional immaturity. You’re waking up to the situation that you’re in. You’re waking up to the fact that it’s not normal for me to not know who I am or not have a sense of self, or not feel like I can express my needs without being criticized or being told That’s ridiculous, or how do you think that makes me feel? And as you’re starting to wake up to that now, we’re going to do a little of that manifesting. We’re going to start saying, No, I really do want a healthy relationship. I deserve a healthy relationship because you absolutely depending on your belief system, a little bit of a joke I like to go to. You only have one life to live. And so waiting until things get better is not it’s not the most healthy or productive thing that one can do because every day that you’re waiting on things to get better, unfortunately, you’re digging those deeply rooted neural pathways in a little bit more and a little bit more. And we’re going to this story of I’ll be happy when I’ll be happy when the kids are all going to school for the day.

[00:21:42] I’ll be happy when I have the better job. I’ll be happy when we have a little more money. I’ll be happy when we move. I’ll be happy when the kids leave. But at that point, all of a sudden we wake up and we’re that couple that is in the restaurant not even saying a word to each other. And I hear that one so often, and my wife and I have talked about that, too. I don’t want you to be that couple, but you will absolutely be that couple if you aren’t even sure how to have a conversation because you’re not quite sure if it’ll go. Should I stay or should I go now? Let’s get to one more email and we’ll talk about this a little bit. I think a lot of concepts are going to come up here. I am literally stalling as I’m pulling up about 500 tabs and I’ll probably edit this out of the I’ll probably edit this out of the audio. Part, but I’m also doing this on video. There is no pause on the program that I’m using to record. Here we go. This person says, Hi, Tony. Holy wow. Which I do wonder if autocorrect. That was. Holy cow. But I like holy wow. What can I say? Like so many, so many listeners who have felt the weight of a thousand bricks fall once learning of the intricate, manipulative behavior of narcissistic abuse. I’m slowly lifting each brick and I am rebuilding myself as a married couple for over 20 years.

[00:22:50] And again, just know I want all your stories. We’re going to answer questions. I’m going to get to even more episodes where we’re going to answer questions. You can send them through the contact form and I would love it. You’re not a client. I would love for you to share, knowing that there’s a good chance that I could read your email. And if you if you’re interested in that, you’re okay with that. That’s the best way for me to answer a question and just let me know, hey, change you can change the details or let me know that you’ve changed some of the details, but the main points are there because that will help a lot. This person and I did trade some emails, so I know that we’re in safe territory, so they’ve been married for over 20 years. They have a few kids that are ready to leave for adulthood. They had one that had struggled with some serious medical concerns that they’ve gotten through. And he says, I have listened to all of your waking up to narcissism episodes and I find all of this fascinating. I remember expressing my bright moments of clarity and observations to my friends and family counselors, and then one day one of them mentioned the word narcissism. He said, I’m so thankful that I did. It brings so much clarity and helps me lift one brick at a time.

[00:23:51] I know deep down that my wife won’t change. Her personality is entrenched in anxious attachment, PTSD, health concerns and grief. And I’m going to own this tangent. I was looking at a lot of material today, and I was looking at some of the work of Dr. Ramani, who I hope will I’ll be able to have on the podcast at some point. But Dr. Ramani has some I think it’s 30 rules or 30 things narcissist checklist. And then I was, boy, okay, let me tell you the tangent that I went on, but I think this is a really good one. I also I was Googling some information about Dr. Ramani, and I found a writer named Steven Sherman. And Steven is a very prolific writer who writes about all kinds of things but has a lot of information, it looks like, of his own journey and getting out of a narcissistic relationship. And so Steven had a summary of Dr. Ramani, his points about narcissism, and there was one in there that I resonated with deeply where Dr. Ramani talks about that. Okay. Well, we may just as a therapist, you might immediately say they can’t change. And that sounds very all or nothing black or white. But and I’ve been very clear on my podcast where I know when people come into this world of exploring narcissism, that it can feel incredibly overwhelming. And a lot of times people read again, just leave, they just read, just stop reading and just leave and trust me.

[00:25:09] But I know I know that that is not the case. It is not that easy. And it’s, quite frankly, probably not the best thing because you are the one that has to work through this and feel like you are the one that feels more comfortable or confident with your decision. Because even goes back to that, handing the decision over to the therapist or to somebody else. What do you think I should do, man? That way, if the if your decision if you end up not feeling like it was the right decision, you get to say, Man, I don’t want to, but my therapist told me to. And that’s why I feel like a good therapist is going to say, I can give you advice, but that is all that is. It’s just advice. What my goal is to do is to understand your story and then to help you recognize what would be best for you, what’s going to be best for you, your kids, your mental health, for your life. I mean, because narcissistic emotional abuse affects your body, your body keeps the score, your cortisol levels start to raise and you are in this heightened fight or flight response. There’s I did a episode a while ago that talked about your hippocampus. Your short term memory literally shrinks because your brain said, I guess I don’t need this. My I’m questioned so much.

[00:26:15] I’m gaslit so much. I don’t need my short term memory. And then your amygdala is large and it is it is enlarged because you are constantly in this fight or flight state. And as a matter of fact, I talk about your hippocampus tapping out because it’s not necessary. But in reality, there’s a correlation there between hippocampus and amygdala. So if your amygdala is always on high alert, then you’ve got this your brain works somewhat in this checks and balances situation. It’s one of the fascinating things about as we get older, you have a cognitive decline, but you’re the emotional sensor part of your brain, then it makes up for that. And so the older we get, we become a little bit more emotional before we can tap into our logic. It’s one of the reasons why currently dealing with an elderly person that’s going through a romance scam because they can play on the emotion. But I digress. So this person says that that was all a part I’m going to I own the tangents. I love this stuff so much. But the person said, I know that my wife won’t change. Back to this Dr. Mani. She talked about that if there is a potential for change, if the person is willing to self confront or look internally or let’s say it’s just severe emotional. No immaturity, but it hasn’t crossed that line. This default mode network of the brain where the switch is not broken, they can look internal and maybe start to look external.

[00:27:32] That it’s going to change comes at a glacial pace. And that was the whole reason I went on that tangent. Change comes at a glacial pace, so there’s almost an acceptance that, okay, if I feel like there can be change, am I willing to accept the glacial pace of change, knowing of the emotional damage that this could do for my own mental health, but especially the mental health of maybe my kids who are going to continue to be pawns, unfortunately, in the narcissistic game of parenting, where the the emotionally healthy person is literally going to make do what’s best for the kids. I feel like I had another example over the week of of the person saying, I am I’m going to certainly let my eight and nine year old know how bad you are if we get the divorce. And this was a narcissistic woman saying this and and I was talking with the guy and just saying that is so that is not the right thing to do. But to the emotionally immature, narcissistic parent, when they say if they’re going to ask me, did I want this, I’m not going to lie to them. I have to tell them that, no, this is what your father wanted. But and I’m going to oversimplify this. But okay, while we’re at it, then you want to tell them there’s no sand clause and no tooth fairy and no Easter bunny.

[00:28:44] And so now is when you have to be absolutely honest with them, not all the times before where you’ve been emotionally manipulative in order to have your needs met, which actually is what’s happening right now. So no, you have to do what’s best for the kids and navigating this, should I stay or should I go is a lot about this what is best for me, but also what is best for the kids, too. So he says. I know I’ve been the subject of her narcissistic abuse because I can now trust my gut. And thanks to your podcast and a lot of reading, I cannot stay steady in the moment and eat popcorn while the show carries on. Thank you for the popcorn reference. When it’s over, I journal and I see my own words and experiences for what they are. I just have one question. Says I so desperately want to trust my gut and take this out of my relationship. There are so many things to consider. Finances, family. Where do I live and where do I go when I’m with my wife? I just desperately want to make it work. I see these good moments, but then the wave happens and I’m back to eating popcorn, watching those popcorn moments. And you said, Wow, it never ends. So when is enough? No one in our marriage has acted in faithfully committed financial problems or something else more sinful. But the daily barrage of having to go back on my backtrack on my statements and rethink what actually happened is exhausting.

[00:29:54] And I keep having to refill my emotional baseline. I’m learning to keep it high and that is helping a lot. So he says, from your experience, when is all this too much? When will I know just to walk away from it all and start again? And is that the right thing to even do? It is such a brain game. And to this person I say, You nailed it. You put it so well, wanting to trust my gut. So many things to consider. And this is where that concept of death by a thousand cuts comes in, because there are so many cuts that it sounds like he is bleeding out. And none of these sound like a big giant wound of infidelity or that sort of thing. And so when is it too much? This is where the answer is going to be. So unsatisfying is that it’s your mileage may vary, unfortunately. And I think that one of the things that I want you to understand is what you’re doing. What this person is doing is the right thing to do, and I call them rule out. So I imagine that’s probably out there somewhere as well. Narcissistic rule outs, maybe we can call them in Rose or something like that. But the narcissistic rule out is every time that someone does feel like I have had enough and they try to set the boundary and maybe at that point the narcissist in their life says, okay, I will be fine.

[00:30:59] I’ll do whatever you need me to do. In essence, they’re saying, Hand me the checklist. I will memorize the items, I will say them. And now will you be happy? Now, can we go back to the way things were? And every one of those times is a rule out. I worked with so many people that will say, okay, no, I can’t take this anymore. And then at first it’s a very obvious case of where they’ll come back in a week or two weeks later and then they’ll say, No, you know what? We had a good talk and things are going a lot better. And I really feel like I don’t know, I feel like there’s this there’s some movement there. And I think it’s a good thing. And this is where over time I feel like what I’ve learned is I want you to ask yourself, were things good or is it just an absence of bad? Because a good thing is that we’re being able to speak with emotional maturity and there isn’t the gaslighting and there isn’t the emotional manipulation and that we’re able and that someone is able to take ownership of their stuff. And not from a I’ve read the list, this is what it says to take ownership. But you can trust your gut and know that, okay, this the person we’re just falling back into the same pattern and now we’re just looking at the shelf life of when this is going to happen again.

[00:32:01] When I traded emails with this person, we were talking about some of the specifics. I thought it was really interesting though. They just said it’s ridiculously complicated and yet so simple. It’s scary, but I’m not scared again. So well said. But I’m just watching. I see her anxious attachment, my pathological kindness. I see her baiting and poking, blaming and shaming. I see myself gray rocking that works. I see myself feeling good and healthy, which she hates that I do such a telling thing that one of the hardest parts about this entire situation for people is that the more that you start to find yourself, the more that you start to stand up to yourself. You are breaking that bond, that trauma bond. And when you do that, the narcissist, the emotionally immature, is about to lose their supply and they want nothing more than to keep that supply in front of them. So that’s where their mind is racing to say, how do I what do I got to do? How do I show up right now so that I can get back into the this trauma bond? Because that’s how the narcissist gets their supply. So at that point, that’s where the popcorn moments come in. They may get angry, they may cry, they may say, man, you’re right.

[00:33:05] I think I understand now. And to the the pathologically kind of the person that wants this to work, they want this to they don’t want to go through divorce. They want this to be okay for their kids. Then when they just hear you’re right or I’ll try, that is has music to their ears. But how many times have you heard that? And then it’s good until it’s not. And I think that’s one of those things that’s a trust your gut moment. But then he just said so much of your podcast rings true. It’s crazy, yet it’s not crazy and I feel so much better knowing because I’ve always felt something was just not quite right, but I never could put my finger on it. People outside of my house would make these slight comments about how she speaks to me over the years and then bam, I saw it. And now I cannot unsee what I’ve seen. That’s where I want to end today, that I cannot unsee what I’ve seen. And so I believe that the answer should I stay or should I go? Probably feels at the end of this episode as unsatisfying is as you may imagine, because unfortunately that is where you’re at. That is what you’re dealing with. Right now is this whole process of unfolding. It’s a process of learning. It’s a process of starting to learn to trust your gut again. And it takes time and it takes far longer than you hope it will.

[00:34:18] And that’s the part where I want to say that is normal. This process can take years. And and I have hesitated in the past on saying that. And I on my path back group, my addiction recovery group, we had a fascinating conversation a few a few weeks ago where somebody just said, what’s the time frame? When am I going to start to feel like I’m not wanting to fall to the temptations of addiction? And I said, okay, boy, you know, time frame, let’s just say it’s 3 to 5 years. First of all, how does somebody feel about that? They’re probably going to feel a lot of people going to feel hopeless and they’re going to feel like, okay, that’s I don’t even know what to do with that. If I tell somebody you had to know it, you know, your mileage may vary and you’re on this process because that is absolutely the case, because if you hit the three year mark, the five year mark, and you feel like you are still in it, whatever it looks like now, we could even beat ourselves up about I can’t even hit the time frame. Or if you go through it too fast, then all of a sudden you’re saying, Did I miss something? Did I not do this right? Do I need to go back in so your mileage may vary your mileage, the things that you’re learning, the things you’re waking up to right now and this is so clear from all of the emails that I get, the sessions I do, the private Facebook group messages is that there are people who are willing to some things bother some people.

[00:35:37] Some things don’t bother other people. Some things are just people will say, okay, I once he does this or she does this, I’m out where other people will feel like, Well, that’s not a big deal. I’m okay with that. And that’s just part of the human experience. You are a product of your nature and your nurture, your birth order, your DNA, your abandonment, your rejection. All of those make you uniquely you. So this process has to become yours. So that is why I think all of us in this mental health space, especially dealing around narcissism or emotional immaturity, say by all means, watch all the podcasts, listen to all the podcasts, read all the books, join the groups. And yeah, I can feel overwhelming at times, but I hope that you’re going to pick different pieces from different books, different groups, different experiences, and that at some point then that becomes your experience, that becomes your tools, that becomes what you did to survive, because that is going to be empowering. There was another piece that Dr. Ramani talked about. When people get out of the relationship, there’s almost this collective sigh, and that is something that is very real. Now, it doesn’t mean that the narcissist isn’t going to continue to keep trying to get you back into the the relationship.

[00:36:46] That is the definition of trauma bond. But people get to a point over time and it takes longer than one might think. But they get to that point where it just doesn’t affect them or bother them anymore. I had someone that I worked with years ago reach out to me about something else and they said, I love that. They said, I know you have that other podcast. And they said, I’m not listening to it and I’m not listening to it on purpose because it’s empowering to know that I am so far past that. And this person was in one of the I don’t know, we’ve got one of these top they made my top five nurses. This person’s spouse was. And so they have just gotten to the point where they are their skills are so strong, they’re in a different relationship, they’re happy, they’re healthy. And that is just smiling right now. It’s one of the greatest things that you can see. But when you’re in the middle of things and you want to still see if you can even make it work, then I understand you’re in the trenches and that can be really difficult. And boy, cliches 101 here, take it one day at a time. You’re going to be okay. Don’t beat yourself up. Give yourself grace, raise your emotional baseline, get that PhD in gaslighting, get out of those unproductive conversations, especially when you know what gaslighting is.

[00:37:50] Because now you see it and you say, okay, this thing isn’t going anywhere. Start setting boundaries, but know that a boundary is a challenge to the narcissist and be prepared for that. I in one sense, when you set the boundary and they come and attack it and push it, I want you to to say, okay, I guess that is I’m doing it. I’m setting a healthy boundary. And then the last thing I say is often just realize that there’s nothing you’ll say or do that will cause them to have that aha moment or the epiphany. And that’s because that epiphany needs to come from them, just like we want you to have your own epiphanies and put all your own tools together based on your experience so that you now have woken up to the narcissism in your life. And now you can confidently do what you need to do, exit that relationship, stand firm with your boundaries, whatever you do. And when you start coming from that place of empowerment, that’s that’s really when the magic occurs. Continue to email me. I love all your questions. Pass the podcast around. I’m overwhelmed by the amount of therapists that people that are emailing saying, My therapist recommended the podcast therapist, thank you and reach out as well. Let’s collaborate. Let’s get together on something and I will see you next time. On Waking Up the nurses.

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