There’s an old saying, “You can’t pick your family, but you can pick your friends.”
The word friend can mean different things to different people. And of course, there are different types of friends; neighbor friends, work friends, childhood friends, casual friends, social friends, couples friends, family friends and the best of all, the jewels of friendship, the close friends. Defining friendship is something we do throughout our lives especially at the times when we need them the most. This is when we separate the men from the boys so to speak, or in female terms, the women from the girls. When any type of difficulty or tragedy occurs in someone’s life the one thing they need the most is to be loved unconditionally, surrounded and supported by those they know they can trust and count on, that they know value the friendship between them and care enough to say, “I’m so very sorry for your pain. I wish I could do something to take that pain away but I’m here without judgement or ill motives, and I’m not going anywhere.” That’s the time when we separate the women from the girls, the boys from the men. This is when those old and lifelong friends you’ve lost touch with reach out and rally around you with love and support. Of course we all know there’s nothing anyone can do to take away pain and suffering when it’s pain from a loss or devastating situation or betrayal of any kind, but the friendships that surround us when these things occur in life, see us through. Never allow anyone to be cruel or bully you into hurrying up or “shutting up” about what you’re feeling or “healing” on their time for their own agenda because it’s inconvenient or uncomfortable for them. This time is yours. Never allow them to devalue or minimize your pain. No one has the right to do that to another. It is real and it is yours. No one knows your pain as well as you and a true friend will not make judgements about you, how quickly you’re healing, or attempt to minimize or devalue your pain during this difficult process for their own selfish, judgmental and unfeeling reasons.
Sometimes we find friends in the most unlikely places and the ones we expected to see us through and be true through the terrible storm disappear from view or betray the friendship all together. Sometimes people appear to assist that you never expected to be in your corner. Perhaps they’ve been through a similar pain, or simply reach out to you from a place of compassion and kindness. Perhaps you never knew how much they thought of you as a person and now is the time to tell, support and show you. The reasons for disappearing may vary, not wanting to see the truth of matters because it’s inconvenient, perhaps it brings about memories of their own that are too painful to face or reconcile with, or perhaps they were not a friend for honest or the purest of reasons to begin with. Either way, it’s sometimes a necessary chore to “clean house” of the people who bring you further pain and more negativity in your greatest time of need. This allows for more time focused to celebrate the ones in your life who positively lift you up, encourage you, and allow you to grieve at your own pace and in your own time without judgements or cruelties. For they know this is temporary and time heals, or at the very least allows more time for the scar to form over. When that time has come and the metamorphosis of healing has completed, the bonds of friendship will be even stronger and have more value than ever imagined. As another old saying goes, “Make new friends but keep the old. One is silver and the other gold.”
Someone you trusted for years is untrustworthy.
Someone you knew to be honorable is dishonorable.
Someone you believed was faithful is faithless.
Someone you knew to have integrity, has none.
Someone you knew to have class, is classless.
Someone who made promises to you did not keep them.
Someone you knew to be a Christian does not follow Christ.
Someone who constantly claimed how much they loved you, did not.
Someone who was your priority was unappreciative of all you did.
Someone who was judgmental, is actually trashy.
Someone who was accomplished, created a myth of successes.
Someone you thought was just moody, was mentally ill.
Someone you believed was just under work pressures, had an addiction.
Someone you loved deeply was a complete and total stranger.
Someone who intended to erase you, released you.
Someone who discarded you, unchained you.
Someone who attempted to crush your spirit, helped it flourish.
Someone who wished to destroy your joy out of spite actually pushed you toward instantaneous good fortune, and more love and support than you ever knew you had.
Someone with envy, jealousy and coldness in their heart, sent you out to where God was waiting all along to embrace, reward, and lift you up to where you belonged.
Parents, teach your sons to be kind. Show them what it means to be honorable, ethical, moral, generous, trustworthy, principled, to have integrity and accountability. Teach them how to properly give and receive love. Let them learn and understand what it means to be truthful, loyal, respectful, and to always communicate with honesty. Teach them to always be gentlemen, to open doors, to be thoughtful, helpful, selfless, grateful, generous, and appreciative. Show them how to walk alongside a woman, not ahead and in front of them. Teach your sons how to be a good man, and teach your daughters to accept nothing less.
“You can spend all your time making money. You can spend all your love making time.”
“Take it to the Limit” by The Eagles (1975).
At some point, we should stop ourselves for a moment and feel grateful for the gifts and blessings we’ve been given in life. Not just for any financial or career success we receive, (or have been given) but the gifts of family and friendship as well. If we were to constantly obsess over the accumulation of wealth by chasing more and more of it without end, we miss out on seeing and appreciating what we already have achieved. Like what’s it all for anyway? When is it enough? This is just one of the extremely significant indicators of Narcissistic Personality Disorder. The never-ending need to accumulate, save and hoard their money, in order to be admired and revered as better than others. They will however, spend it generously when attempting to impress someone. What really matters most to mentally healthy persons on the other hand, are the people in their lives. Money to a healthy person serves a purpose to survive comfortably, to afford the ability to live a good life, perhaps to travel and live well, be able to be generous and charitable by giving back, and for being able to enjoy life and those special people in it. Money isn’t made for the purpose of admiration and gaining respect of others they feel are beneath them in order to feel superior, or to connect with those on a higher income level hoping for an opportunity to do business with them to accumulate more money as someone with this disorder will often do. For a healthy person, their financial state is not a purposeless purpose of lifelong saving and accumulating. A healthy person isn’t having the people closest to them spend more of their own money on things as frequently as this can be covertly done. A narcissist will do just that. They will also avoid it being made obvious to others around them. This is something a narcissist is very good at doing. Subtle avoidance of spending. There’s more to life than constantly comparing yourself to others success and obsessing over continuous financial accumulation. No matter how much there is, there will never be enough of it to fill their private emptiness. Be aware of this behavior and its significance. It’s key. Always be grateful and appreciative. Let it be enough because one day, when you least expect it, it’ll have to be.
Quite often when I hear someone use the words “emotional abuse” I immediately cringe. Two words that pack a powerful punch when joined together. The thing about emotional abuse is, most of the abused don’t consciously realize they’re being abused at the time it’s occurring. It often isn’t until the person is removed from the abuse, whether by their own choice or by the abuser themselves–possibly and frequently by having moved onto another “narcissistic supply” (we’ll discuss that more ahead), that it becomes crystal clear, over time, what was actually happening. It can be extremely subtle but powerfully painful. From stonewalling, a common technique used by some abusers to “punish” the abused for some perceived wrongdoing, to a simple “I love you baby” after each devaluing statement is made. This creates doubt and causes questions and confusion to one’s own perception. It may be that the person didn’t have time in their day to make it to the gym, or pick up flowers, or go for a run as they had unwittingly stated previously was in their plans. Perhaps the abused victim forgot to do something or had a change occur within their day. Either way, there’s now an opportunity here for the abuser to use the other person’s own feelings of disappointment in themselves for not accomplishing all they planned for that day, (primarily from previously planted seeds of doubt by the abuser) and intensify those feelings into perceived guilt or wrongdoing. The abuser knows their abused’s weaknesses. After all, most of these “weaknesses” they themselves helped manifest and create. It’s subtle, often confusing and contradictory, and over time, it begins to break the spirit of the victim of the abuse into coping mechanisms of complete denial and total blindness to what has occurred. Believe it or not, it is sometimes possible for the abuser to not be consciously aware or cognoscente of their abuse (another thing we’ll get into later) of the abused. What is at the heart of all this you may ask? Good question. We will answer that ahead…
One of my favorite authors and a high-functioning alcoholic. He died at the age of 44 from alcohol related issues.