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RESOURCE PERSPECTIVES: The Whitney Houston tragedy

Editor’s note: Resource Perspectives features articles written by members of Lovefraud’s Professional Resources Guide. Rebecca Potter works as a licensed mental health counselor in West Palm Beach, Florida.

I’m every woman ”¦ It’s all in me ”¦

By Rebecca Potter

Rebecca Potter profile in the Lovefraud Professional Resources Guide

Sadly, on February 11, 2012, the world lost another woman’s voice when Whitney Elizabeth Houston died in her hotel room. The press talked about her drug and alcohol use, her bizarre behavior, etc. Reporters briefly mentioned her tumultuous marriage. Did we lose another beautiful woman’s voice to the tragic, permanent, emotional and physical side effects of leaving an abusive marriage, and/or the struggle of trying to protect her young child from a dangerous man in the legal system?

A quote from a news article reads:

“When Whitney Houston decided to end her marriage with Bobby Brown, the thought in many minds was why did this decision take so long in light of the history of infidelity, scandals, drug and alcohol arrests, and marital problems during their marriage?”

It appears that Whitney’s life took a turn for the worse when she entered into a relationship with Bobby Brown

Although I can only offer a hypothetical opinion as a therapist, her struggle seems hauntingly familiar. Is it possible that Whitney Houston suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder? Those of us who have left an abusive relationship understand the fear and anxiety we developed in the relationship. We know it is hard to leave, and repeated exposure to the trauma creates Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

The neurological and biological effects of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder symptoms affect our ability to clearly identify what is happening. The powerful biological responses of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder may cause an abused woman to under react (dissociate) or to overreact (perhaps explaining some of Whitney’s bizarre behavior). What we also know is that the mere exposure to a dangerous man in a relationship causes a continuous roller coaster of biological and neurological reactions that affect our brain chemistry and create anxiety. This biological reaction from post traumatic stress disorder can be triggered instantly by any environmental cue (where the abuse occurred, angry voices, displeasure from someone, etc.), long after leaving the abusive situation.

Lack of effective medical treatment

Sadly, many women medicate this anxiety with drugs and alcohol. The medical community, governed by insurance corporations, will allow and cover drug and alcohol treatment usually only for 30 days. Drug and alcohol treatment is ineffective with patients who have suffered trauma and betrayal bonding. Still, the standard approach is to use prescription medication to treat the substance abuse. These professionals know all too well that an addict is going to relapse. Professionals know that recovery involves a desire to heal, to attend meetings, and professional therapy, for much more than 30 days of treatment.

Whitney went to treatment and possibly in treatment she was given her prescription medications. She left treatment early, but continued to be given the prescription medications, continued to abuse substances and possibly continued to be triggered by trauma symptoms. It is unlikely that she was informed and educated about the permanent and pervasive effects of a dangerous relationship.

What if Whitney would have been able to seek treatment to understand the betrayal bonding that occurred in her relationship with Bobby Brown?

What if ”¦

  • she had been treated with biofeedback
  • she learned to recognize the trauma triggers
  • she had connected with a group of other women who could have supported her
  • she had heard from other professional women who had given so much of themselves to a man who was not able to love and return love because of a serious mental illness and genetic disorder
  • she heard from others that they endured the emotional , financial, mental traumas, who stayed because they were trying to live by God’s law and supporting an erratic husband
  • she heard that many women feel relief when a husband finally hits them, because they are able to recognize physical abuse, but have become numb to verbal, mental, and financial abuse
  • she knew what to expect when she went to the court system, that she would then be abused by attorneys who wanted what was left of her money and the fear she may have felt from a legal system that could award her child to an abuser
  • she knew that due to mere exposure to the trauma and domestic violence her daughter could marry the same type of man
  • she understood that personality disorders are an enduring pattern of behaviors; stable and long duration that are inflexible and pervasive across a broad range of personal and social situations
  • she knew that the abuser could appear so supportive and caring to groom and gain her trust
  • she knew that the sexual intensity between them was part of the betrayal bonding component
  • she knew that many women begin substance use to try to connect with these abusive mates
  • she knew that exposure to these kinds of people would leave her emotionally and physically ill and leaving him would expose her to devastating financial harm
  • she knew that these abusers looked for injured folks and put up a mask to draw them in, usually with intense personalities and sex, only to take everything and leave them
  • she could have let go of the fear and shame that haunted her

A tragedy

The world lost a beautiful musical voice. My hope is that the world learns from the tragedy of Whitney. To all other beautiful voices who may currently feel or have felt the pain of betrayal, I encourage treatment with professionals who understand the complex treatment of trauma, professionals who clearly understand the effects of abusive betrayal bonds used by so many in our society to take and pillage from innocent people.

God bless you and keep you Whitney Elizabeth Houston and ALL OTHER VOICES who struggle with healing from trauma bonding.

Rebecca Potter, LMHC is a licensed therapist in Florida who has also suffered trauma from a former abusive husband and a corrupt, abusive family court system. She can be reached at: [email protected]

For more information, read: Inside Whitney Houston’s violent marriage to Bobby Brown on TheDailyBeast.com.

Watch Whitney Houston’s last performance.



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189 Comments on "RESOURCE PERSPECTIVES: The Whitney Houston tragedy"

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Rebecca,
Fantastic post. I completely agree. But, what if Whitney had been exposed to all this info, but was in denial herself and therefore not open to treatment?

It’s all just so sad.

Rebecca,
thanks for writing this article. Whitney really makes us take a step back and think because she had so many resources and so much to live for. So what went wrong?

From what little I gathered, she did seem to have a problem with always wondering if she was “good enough”, as Kevin Costner said in his eulogy.

Spaths always try to make you feel that way.

..rest in peace Whitney..

When I heard (via the t.v. news) that Whitney Houston was dead, I read a post that a viewer left (that was aired on t.v.), stating that Whitney was now singing with the angels. She was a beautiful, talented woman. It’s unfortunate that she ended up with “a bad boy,” an abusive man, someone who was (and still is) incapable of being a decent, loving human being.

I found it interesting that her Ex husband STORMED OUT of the funeral service because he didn’t like how he and his group of 9 (nine) people were to be seated…I thought when I read that, that the funeral wasn’t for her as far as He was concerned, or her mother or her daughter (their daughter) but it was ALL ABOUT HIM. Sounds familiar doesn’t it?

It is a tragedy when anyone dies, and I am terribly sorry that Ms Houston’s life was cut short.

There are lots of what ifs in everyone’s life, hers, mine, and yours. Ultimately though, it boils down to the CHOICES we make regardless of what the “reason” we make those choices is.

She made some poor choices that resulted in her death.

Oxy, what a total a$$ [Bobb Brown]… what the spath couldn’t gloat on her death from close enough or what?

Hello Rebecca,

I want to congratulate you on your article about Whitney Houston. Hats off! It’s about time we begin
to spread the word around to women who are in abusive relationships under the ruling of abusers and
we need to encourage them to leave their pathological husbands or boyfriends to begin to rule their own lives.
We women deserve to be loved and respected. I’m doing everything on my part to stop the havoc that men with personality disorders
wreak on women.

Thank you

Best wishes

Maria

Maria,
these same PD’s affect women, so there are many spath women who destroy men AND women’s lives. Generally, because of the patriarchal social structure we live in, women are more vulnerable than men are to spaths. Yet, we can’t diminish what female spaths do to men and women. When we do, we lose more than 50% of our power to fight against this PD. That’s because people generally don’t have as much compassion for a problem that affects only women as they do for a problem that affects all humanity.

I watched an interview with Whitney and Oprah.
WOW…she was SO trauma bonded to him! She wanted that
relationship to work more than anything.

It just amazes me how you can have all the money, fame,and fortune in the world, yet the most important thing is to be “loved” for everyone. Even Demi Moore, who made a poor choice with the younger guy, is “sick” over the relationship not working.

Its a great lesson. Love yourself and never depend on anyone else’s love, appreciation, or acceptance …to determine how fulfilled you feel!

Philosophically speaking, it is all WITHIN us. When we stop looking for someone else on this earth to give us VALUE…and we just value OURSELVES, then we have inner peace.

I find that when I fulfill myself by doing things to make myself happy….whether its walking, bike riding…setting a goal to get my body healthy and in shape….reading…watching a movie…playing a song on the piano….oil painting…taking my kids to the beach..helping someone out with their problems…giving!

THATS when I feel “fulfilled”. When I look at celebrities who self destructed….Elvis, Marilyn Monroe, Michael Jackson, and now, Whitney……I realize that its because they didn’t love themselves enough to live. They NEEDED something or someone from OUTSIDE of themselves to make them feel fulfilled.

An important lesson….I think.

All the self-helpers, philosophers….etc. are saying the same thing about “life” and “inner peace”. “Love yourself”. But, most people don’t get it!!!! They let their subconscious mind…the “tape” play…all the things that say…”You aren’t good enough…you have no value on this earth…he/she rejected you so you are worthless..” TAKE OVER.

WOW…an “aha” moment for me.

People who are “fulfilled”…”happy”….”content”….are NOT looking for what they can GET….who loves and cares about ME….they are too busy “giving” to others. This is KEY.

Whitney found “fulfillment” in caring for her only daughter. Seeing her daughter unhappy watching violence and abuse is what finally got her to leave him. But, she still “craved” his love for her and wanted him back!

Imagine…having the good looks she had, the talent, the opportunities…the gifted voice….the money, fame and fortune…
and yet one man’s rejection of her….one stupid person on earth who wouldn’t love her…..was more important to her than anything.

It was a great interview if anyone can catch it on Oprah again.

Wow!

I watched that inteview with Oprah last evening also. Oprah asked, early in the interview, if Brown had ever physically abused her. Whitney answered no, something like he knew better, because she grew up with two brothers and she could/would fight back.

She then went on to tell, throughout the interview, about him slapping her in the face, spitting in her face, pinning her up against a wall by the throat. The denial of physical abuse was unbelievable. Perhaps, she had the same type of denial with her addiction.

Rebecca, you stated if she could have connected with a group of other women that could have supported her. I think if she would have had ANYONE that could have supported her. Rather, her “friends”, people who “loved” her and could have supported her decided to go ahead with a party just floors below where her deceased body lay. If that was her support – well, she didn’t have a chance.

I agree, what a sad, sad, preventable end. And, again, a child left to deal with the choices of the parents.

You all are such strong, knowledgeable voices. Yes, this is also an issue that affects men. Yes, her ex had to make a dramatic issue of the funeral not being about him, and his acting ability is amazing, the tears, the intense emotions. And it is deplorable that her self absorbed friends partied floors beneath her while she and her family suffered. Please keep speaking, so that those who do not know where to turn hear you!!! So many families know this sad sad story. It affects our hearts so deeply.

PS, I have had tremendous outcomes using a biofeedback machine before any therapy or education. It helps to reduce defensive mechanisms developed by traumatized clients. So again, I stand firm that with the appropriate treatment, not what the insurance companies will pay for, denial breakthroughs and recovery occurs. I call it a relationship recovery because it is not only your mate who was abusive, it is your boss, many friends,family, etc. an abuse survivor has to gain new friends just like those in other recovery groups.

I know I sometimes think the stars have such glamorous lives because of their fame and fortune. This is one more reminder that they suffer, too, and make bad choices. None of us are immune to suffering. I didn’t follow Whitney’s life much, but I was crushed when Michael Jackson died. So many artists seem so tortured, and it seems such a tragedy when they die without resolving the pain in their lives. It’s like we are trying to find some meaning in their death, to resolve the pain for them…..if only this, or if only that – because we feel some identification with them, and we don’t want OUR lives to end that way. We think they should have lived longer. I feel that Whitney chose to live the way she wanted to live and die the way she wanted to die. The drama-filled life that was cut short early by drugs was the the life she chose. For her, that was was life was about, and if so, she certainly packed a lot of “life” into her 48 years. In her mind, she probably suffered for her “love” and to her, this was probably a noble thing. Doesn’t make sense to us but we are not her. Everyone finds their own meaning in life, even if it causes them great suffering.

It’s easy to sit here and say what she should have done, but I am not her. I’ve never had to live her life. Maybe if she’d left the abusive jerk years earlier, she still would have chosen a life of drugs? A lot of stars/people choose to live on the edge. They don’t all need a spath to help them either. There are stars like Amy Winehaus (sp) who died at 27 without the help of a spath. I think it is our own projection that everyone should live a nice peaceful life and die at 80. Not everyone is meant to have a long, peaceful life. Some people live on the edge by choice. So if they choose to live hard and die young, why should we blame others for their choices?

You can’t tell me that with all her fame, power, and money, she didn’t have access to good support groups and psychotherapy if she wanted it. I’m sure she had friends and family who tried to “save” her but she didn’t want to be saved. I don’t buy this blaming other people for her death. Same with Michael Jackson. They chose their fate by the lifestyles they lived. I think we should celebrate her beautiful voice and the gifts she gave to society but not sanctify her as some sort of martyr who was imprisoned by a spath.

Stars have this incredible pressure on them in that they are unwitting role models for the rest of us. For MY money, I take someone like Tina Turner as my role model. She walked away from her spath with just her name, and broke the connection in a very drama-free way. She just walked away. She is someone I look up to. But I respect Whitney’s choices, however much pain they caused her. They were HER choices and in some morbid way gave her life meaning.

What I take away from all of this is that you can’t save someone who doesn’t want to be saved. You have to respect people’s choices. You can only save yourself.

If Whitney could see herself and see what we saw….Her life might have been different.
We saw the beauty, the smile, the voice. Looking in from the outside she had it all.

Money & fame can’t buy self esteem. It can’t buy sobriety. It can’t buy happiness.
Money didn’t chase away her demons.

Money & fame can buy you a very comfortable lifestyle.

But as we have seen over and over again….In the news and tabloids….Money doesn’t take away a persons inner pain & conflicts.

I just have to tell everyone what my spath would say when a celebrity committed suicide or when a celebrity was reported addicted and out of control.

He would say, “they deserve it. If I had that much money, I wouldn’t have any problems at all. It they can’t handle life when they have all that money, then they deserve what they get.”

I wish I had understood at the time, what his mind state was really like. I just didn’t get the no empathy part.

Another interesting thing, is that he could get money easily. Whether in a con or a drug deal, he seemed to pull rabbits out of hats. Yet he CHOSE poverty most of the time so that he could continue to drag me down, take my money and that of others by using the pity ploy. So I have to wonder if there wasn’t a double meaning in his comments.

Wanted to comment on the addiction issue. Whitney probably dealt with so many corporate psychopaths in the music and film industry. It appears that her anxiety was debilitating.
Her ex Bobby was jealous of her relationship with her co stars, esp. Denzel Washington. Bobby was reported to create scenes on the set because of his jealousy. Typical behavior of the spath spouse creating drama/ sabotage to keep his spouse’s career sabotaged. Can’t have a successfu, confident, happy spouse, why would they stay. The spath instinctively knows this and keeps their captives in a fearful state, slowing conquering their soul’s strength, Bobby probably reinforced her anxiety.
I imagine the scene in Hollywood triggered many of the environmental cues to cause the increase in anxiety. Possibly she was increasing the prescription medications and the alcohol to medicate the increasing anxiety. Treatment usually has to occur several times. The first time is usually a withdrawal period and an attempt to educate and decrease denial. Each successive treatment works to sustain recovery, and decrease emotional responding. It is disappointing that she was given prescription medication before she had a solid recovery.
I can personally understand this anxiety. I had to force myself back into situations alone without my ex spath. When my PTSD symptoms and anxiety escalate; I have learned to take it easy, the gentle life and to avoid those who demand too much from me. I have re-learned to set firm boundaries. This has been a lot of relationship recovery work. My Patrick Carnes, copy of “Betrayal Bonds” is tattered and marked up. I work to ask God to remove the intense feelings that occur when I start to feel the PTSD/Anxiety triggers.

Relationship Recovery is a new area. Unless you have been in one of these relationships, you cannot imagine the intense anxiety and how to recover. I can still hear people saying to me, “Just get over it and move on.” It is very difficult to get over these dangerous relationships and please never say that to anyone. This is a serious mental, emotional and physical injury that must be addressed with serious professional treatment. Discounting this serious medical issue, allows insurance companies, courts and professionals to avoid seriously exploring and developing professional treatment options for those who suffer and need treatment.

one/joy_step_at_a_time

sky – the spath was all over celebrity tragedy. Was overly affected by it and identified with it. of course. the bitch was a rock star.

one/joy_step_at_a_time

rebeccap- i have been used nuerofeedback intermittently for over a year and it has significantly reduced my PTSD symptoms.

one/joy_step_at_a_time

hello dear witty.

One/joy– yes neurofeedback treatment works well with PTSD symptoms. Glad you are taking your recovery seriously!

It would be nice if somebody could contact Sissy Houston with this article and comment’s.
Rebeccap your post above say’s so much of what I dealt with and still do to some extent – I get my professional therapy here, thank you..

one/joy_step_at_a_time

hiya hens!

Howdee 1steprs 🙂

I have been helped enormously by Lovefraud but think this post i ignores the fact that Whitney was an addictive personality who died from drugs and drink. It’s as simple as that.

There is no-one else to blame but herself and, indeed, what about the influence she herself has had on her daughter’s addiction problems? At some stage we all have to take responsibility for our own behaviour and not always look for someone else to blame!

As someone in recovery myself, I think she was given every chance to turn her life around and she simply didn’t want it badly enough.

Insofar as the attitude towards the pathological people’s actions is not focused on the right direction, we women will continue to be victims of
disordered men (I know that there are sociopathic women but male sociopaths outnumber female sociopaths by far given their biological predisposition).
How much more damage will it take for society to take severe action against this dehumanizing scourge??? I’m willing to fight against this problem with all the more might because it is women’s problem and I’m sure that it continues to be an untackled problem because it’s not men’s problem and men are by nature self-centered even if non-disordered.

Addiction is a disease. No one has control over this insidious monster! It does not matter how much money you have. It begins very slowly and changes the body chemistry. It is more cunning and baffling than the psychopath. So many survivors of a dangerous relationship are medicating with substance use. We all have faced ineffective treatment and judgment from the psychological community. The pain of abuse has been ignored by the medical community. Statistics show that around 65% of abused children and adults will become addicts. Whitney had the courage to admit her flaws, again another example of her glorious voice, honesty, honesty. She left another legacy of the truth spoken for the benefit of others. I do not live in a glass house and I admire her courage to be honest. Again “The Voice” the world needs to hear.

I know I am on the wrong website to start a support campaign for Bobby Brown and I wish I could say that I know him personally but I don’t. But if everyone can bash him I can stand up for him. You all are blinded by Whitney’s public persona. Don’t get me wrong I loved her music. I used to sing her songs in my room as a little girl. I still have her vinyl self-titled record, so that speaks support. But in regards to her relationship with Bobby Brown, people always view her public persona. Before Bobby Brown, in the public eye Whitney was always together, that is until the end. It is true that being with the right person can bring those hidden characteristics out of you. But I will say that looking back at them they were in love. People fight but that doesn’t mean they don’t love each other. They sometimes fight because they love each other but communication fails. Not everyone is a sociopath. And just because he was a self-proclaimed badboy does not mean that he was a bad person. Women love the badboy. We fall for that time and again so it is high time we take some responsibility for our actions of falling for them. Stop blaming him for her demise. Because when you look at the end of her life and you look at his life, he got his life together and she is the one who tragically died. She was responsible for her life and if she had given it over to God she would still be here. But God has a plan and purpose even for our mistakes. Let Bobby Brown continue his life. He regrets the things he did and you can tell by the fact that he has stopped using drugs and has turned his life around. Whitney was who she was before she met him. It was just a secret to the rest of us. She felt a sense of empowerment when she was with him because he truly loved who she was. But she never felt good enough. She didn’t have anything to prove to anybody. She was by far the prettiest woman in Hollywood. She had the best voice in all the world. But for some reason she suffered from insecurity based on the people who knew her best. Bobby championed her but of course he had his own issues with drugs and alcohol at the time they were together so it was a bad combination. We can’t expect to addicts to be able to support each other to get off drugs. It was just an all bad situation. He hit rock bottom too remember. He was found sleeping on some video vixen’s couch and she blasted him on Youtube. He hit rock bottom too. But by the grace of God he got it together. Whitney on the other hand continued to downward spiral. She divorced him thinking that would solve her problems but instead she lost control over her life. She lost her voice. She lost her life. It is very sad.

Dear Maamh,

I too have been helped tremendously by Lovefraud. I have been reading for 6 years now and commenting along the way. Your comments about Whitney’s addiction being ignored in this post surprised me. Your comment about “no one to blame but herself” makes me believe you don’t get it.

I think in all sincerity, that you need to keep reading here at Lovefraud and need to wake up to the fact of what is really going on here at Lovefraud…….saying she “didn’t want it badly enough” is spoken, forgive me, like a SP.

Maybe you better reveal this to your therapists……

rebeccap, I could not agree with you more, especially about the need for biofeedback or other types of therapies (not covered by insurance).

I would have been resistant to the idea myself, in ignorance, until I ventured into that area. Now, mind you, I have not had the funds so all I did was EFT on myself. And I was an open-minded skeptic when I tried it.

It absolutely worked. I still don’t understand how, but I figure I don’t need to know how (at this time, though I’m curious of course).

It created a breakthrough for me in my PTSD. I had been suffering with it, up and down, going on for sometimes some years without a trigger, then suddenly a debilitating trigger/setback… I was honestly wondering what the heck was wrong and if I’d ever be able to “move on, get over it” as you say…

…I couldn’t do it on my own. I used alcohol (a little; a daily beer). I tried to distract myself and “move on.” But if I am honest with myself, I was really impaired by my PTSD for a very long time (about 10 years of trying to “move on, get over it.”). Yes, I had some therapy. I read a lot of books. I am a very strong person.

But EFT was a gigantic breakthrough. It did something to me mentally, energetically, psychically — I really don’t know what — it cleared a lot of the PTSD.

I haven’t tried the other things because I cannot afford it financially. But I’m sure you are correct.

The thought i most wanted to express about this was that until I opened myself up to try this alternative (and strange-sounding) therapy, I didn’t put much stock in it. I really didn’t think it would or could help. I tried it sort of as a “what the heck; it can’t hurt…” thing. And I was stunned at the results.

I’m continuing to use EFT for residual things that come up, with continuing excellent results. It works for other things, too (physical and psychological).

Rebecca made a very good point which I hope will not be overlooked… that the current, insurance-covered “therapies” DO NOT WORK for this type of trauma (or perhaps any type of trauma). And also that effective therapies CURRENTLY EXIST, but they are not widely accepted, known about, nor covered by insurance. They certainly are not the current protocol — and they SHOULD BE.

oh, and regarding some of the other recent comments — I definitely wanted it (recovery, healing) “badly enough!!!”

And no amount of willpower seemed to overcome the PTSD. I left my spath ex-husband, but I still was caught up in the trauma/drama of the continuing relationship (we have kids together). I do not like the word “addiction” as in, I was “addicted” to the drama…

but I have to say, once EFT broke that cycle (it was some kind of bond, whether energetic, psychic, psychological, biochemical — I really cannot say, but it broke; something radically and fundamentally changed within me) — I was able to finally make sufficient progress to get to the point where I can now say I am “getting over it and moving on.”

I absolutely have to say — unless you have gone through something like this– and I mean totally having gone through both the traumatic bonding, the desperately trying to understand and “get over it, move on” without sufficient results, and THEN finally having some effective therapy (something like biofeedback or EFT) that causes a change (this is totally outside the realm of “willpower” or “wanting it badly enough”) then you cannot know.

I would not have known this myself, had I not experienced it. I would have judged… I would have said that I (and others, like Whitney) just need to try harder, to want it more, or something.

This alternate therapy WORKS and is not known by enough people.

I got this post today–I don’t even know what a spath is. Clearly the two men who caused me severe PTSD although that could be blamed on my family for sure. While reading these posts, I woke up happy, but my body now, I can barely breathe and tears are behind my eyes and I’m so very anxious. Where do I go for help? I don’t think PTSD ever will leave me alone, it’s so haunting but I don’t know any group meetings? My first husband a celebrity, 2nd huge business owner–they go on—they go on.

sharons632:

“spath” = shorthand for “sociopath.”

Where can you go for help? There are many places, and it depends where you live, what other resources you have, how long it has been (or if you are still in a relationship) since you left, what you have tried so far, what has NOT worked, etc.

Everyone has tried something different, so there is no one way that works for every person.

Things that I did that helped: individual therapy (the kind that let me talk, rather than tried to find quick solutions helped best in my case); contacting a local domestic violence agency and joining a victims group (this helped a lot at the beginning when I was just getting out of the relationship); finding other divorced women who had been through similar things (we just sort of found each other); finding divorced MEN who had been through similar things and talking with them (these conversations tended to happen at bars…)

Reading lots of books helped me. I learned about sociopathy/psychopathy, about different types of therapy, about trauma/PTSD, about evil. Lots and lots of books.

Writing in a journal helped. Coming to Lovefraud helped (is continuing to help).

As Rebecca writes, there are types of therapy which create breakthroughs… these are alternative therapies not covered by insurance. They DO help — a LOT. EFT is one I’ve tried and you can do it on yourself or go to a practitioner (often a licensed social worker) to guide you through. EMDR is another one that has helped a lot of people. (google them if you dont’ know what they are). There are other types of energy healing therapies which can help, such as reiki and chakra balancing. Not everyone is open to this. I was resistant at first, but eventually came around to the idea and it helped tremendously.

Time heals, but PTSD goes away NOT on its own, but through addressing it in particular ways (such as what Rebecca suggests). Do some research into PTSD and some of these alternative therapies, and consider taking a leap of faith and trying some of them.

Things which do not help: talking to people who are well-meaning but have not lived this experience. They want to frame it too much in terms of “choices” and consequences for choices we have made, or choices we *could* be making now (in their judgment) such as “getting over it and moving on” — but it’s not really that simple of a thing. Hanging around people like this can cause you huge setbacks, and to doubt yourself.

Watch out for isolating yourself too much. There is a difference between “retreating” from harmful influences and becoming a holed-up hermit. Some amount of retreating is good, if you can be healing and meditative during that time.

Healing is very possible. Be patient with yourself as you try different things… some will work, and some will cause setbacks. don’t give up. Just keep trying. This is an individual path, though many have been on it before you, and if you keep trying, you will find answers.

Good luck to you on your healing journey.

I had the exact same thoughts . . .i.e, that Bobby Brown (and his years of abuse) were the major contributing factor that led to Whitney’s death. It is extremely hard to shake off the damage done by these EVIL people. I suppose it is even harder in the public eye, where your tiniest movement is critiqued, exaggerated, and often lied about (a booster shot of gas-lighting). These S/N/A/Ps (Sociopaths,Narcissists,Anti-Socials,Psychopaths) get under your skin, and change the fabric of your soul.

I just reread some of the earlier posts and

Rebeccap says “I call it a relationship recovery because it is not only your mate who was abusive, it is your boss, many friends,family, etc. an abuse survivor has to gain new friends just like those in other recovery groups. ”

I would like to say a hearty AMEN SISTA!!! To that statement, because too many times it is more than one person we have allowed to abuse us and we must eliminate these people from our lives. It is sometimes VERY difficult to do so but it is NECESSARY that we do so in order for us to heal, but at the same time, as we gather more strength we become more and more picky about who our “friends” are and when we see a RED FLAG in either a new or old friend, they get the “heave ho” out of our lives. If it is someone we MUST associate with for one reason or another, we keep them at “arm’s length” and we do not trust them. We protect ourselves from them.

Good p;oint Rebeccap! Than ks

Our addiction to the spaths is much more difficult to fight than an addiction to alcohol and drugs because at least alcohol and drugs aren’t addicted to you back.

Imagine how hard it would be to get off substance abuse if you were constantly being called, texted and stalked by a bottle or a pill. THEY don’t give up. THEY want us to stay addicted to them. We can’t just say NO one time, we have to keep resisting all the pressure that they put on us on TOP of our own desire to be with them.

And it isn’t just a desire to be with the spath, it’s a normal human need for love and relationships. So I guess, that spath addiction is more like food addiction. You can’t avoid food because you can’t live without it. But you have to have a HEALTHY relationship with food and only eat what is good for you. NOT always easy.

After seeing the interview with Whitney on Oprah, it is glaringly clear that she was a victim of an emotionally and physically abusive person. It is also so clear that she was trauma bonded to him. Yes, she had addiction issues and maybe she too was narcissistic. But it is apparent that she went through a lot with Bobby Brown.

I have no factual basis in the opinion I am about to express, but after observing celebrities of late and Hollywood in general, I believe most, if not all, of these celebrities have Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Or at least a Cluster B. I don’t think a true artist expresses their art for fame and money. I truly feel that most of these Hollywood people went into the entertainment field for the sheer celebrity aspect of it and all of the “glamorous” tappings that go along with it.

What is the real shame is that we salivate and crazily adore these people who entertain us. What is that about? What is it in us that causes such blind excitement? I am teaching my children not to react that way to the celebrities they see in the movies or on T.V. They are just people like you and me. They are no better. Yes, some such as Whitney have special talents, but such praise and frenzy over her is a bit much. And the sooner society stops putting these people on such a pedestal, the better off we will spiritually be.

Yes, as a human being, I feel bad for Whitney. As I do for all of those who suffer at the hands of disordered personalities.

Good analogy, Skylar.

As this is evolving for me, I would say that during the time I was with my spath (married), I had a strong desire (addiction? I still think that is not quite right, but it is a valuable exercise to think of it that way) to have an intact family (husband, wife, 3 kids), I had this vision of how I wanted it to be: we are happy, we have a nice home, we have nice routines, we are kind to each other, the kids behave but of course kids will be kids, we are kind and helpful to neighbors and the community, we go to church, we take our kids to the doctor for regular checkups, hubby has a job and I am home raising the kids and taking care of home stuff, we live a good life, the kids grow up and live good lives, and we are happy together as we grow old together…

this is what I wanted. This is what I thought we were going to have. I thought it was a “good life” and I was a “good person” so why shouldn’t I have a good life?

(I am painting it and myself more naively than it was — I was 29 when I got married and I thought I was being very realistic about not seeking perfection; I was a pretty easy going person with a strong dose of “good will” towards myself and others)

I cannot call this dream an addiction. My husband fooled me. He changed, once we got married. He was still sometimes the guy I fell in love with. and otherwise, this cruel stranger. I found it very upsetting and confusing.

But over time… I didn’t desire HIM anymore. My desire turned to fear, loathing, disgust. That was a real problem!!! i didn’t know how to continue to be married to someone I found revolting. Seriously. I was not “addicted” to this creature but this situation had not occurred to me… this revulsion was directly connected to his cruelty. I felt terrible! I wanted to be a good and loving wife, but I could not (I forced myself to go through the motions). My poor children…

I just wanted to stop feeling revulsion towards my husband. I wanted to feel the love again. It was a very despairing feeling.

And so… how does this fit into “addiction?” I stayed (for awhile) because I really, really wanted to have that good life and I kept thinking I could figure out what was wrong with me that I was revolted by my husband. I felt very guilty about that.

When I finally left… he kept finding ways to hurt me. He would still be his old self that I fell in love with about half the time, and the other half of the time he would be the revolting monster. I kept being fooled and thinking I should not have judged him so harshly… and maybe that I had hurt him badly by leaving… and then he would turn, and I’d see the monster again. I found this so confusing, for so many years.

I have a hard time viewing this as addiction. I think it was more that I wanted to do the right thing, be a kind person, not judge harshly or condemn him because I believed that to be wrong/immoral, and I hoped to have a “good divorce” just as I’d hoped to have a “good marriage.” I wanted to “honor him” as he is the father of my children.

We did not have a good divorce, either.

The part about addiction which does ring true for me, is all the time I spent ruminating on this relationship, all of these years, trying to cut through the confusion but never quite being able to.

About a year ago, major breakthroughs were made, and I can so now that I no longer think of him much at all. And when I do, it is very easy for me to turn my thoughts towards something else. I am no longer tormented by trying to understand this relationship.

So maybe that was the addiction part — but still, I have trouble with that word. I don’t think he was some kind of drug that I felt I needed. Ever. It’s way more complicated than that. I worry that using the word addiction to describe these sorts of relationships confuses the matter in people’s minds, people who have not experienced something like this.

I think it is a useful analogy, to a point. But it is also important to appreciate the complexities… it is not as simple as “giving it up” or “giving into the addiction” or going to rehab or something.

I do think that being in abusive relationships can lead to substance abuse as a coping mechanism or that abusive relationships can set a person up for very real illness/disease, which then can lead to medical interventions that may only mask the underlying cause… and the person is diverted from taking a look at the horror of the abuse they have suffered/allowed.

20years,
Your description of your relationshit is not unlike my own, in that, toward the end I felt revulsion for him and kept wanting to figure out what was wrong with me that I couldn’t make him “act normal”. The only reason I know that I had addiction, at least at first, was because when I did try to leave him it was so incredibly painful – beyond anything I’d ever experienced. I felt like I was dying and I couldn’t tear myself away from him. I begged him to help me stop hurting from the pain of leaving him. I cried all weekend and he cried (fake) with me. I’ll never forget that pain, even though 25 years later, it was all very different.

my dear friend sent me this link yesterday, and I think it describes addiction as well as anything I might be able to articulate.
http://mnmlist.com/walk-away/

Whatever you can’t walk away from, is your addiction.

Skylar,

It’s helpful to hear that I wasn’t the only one to feel revulsion towards my spath, and wonder what was wrong with ME for feeling that way!

When I left, though, I felt a very numb “shock” feeling, but I also believe I was guided to leave (guardian angel?). I felt very sure of what I was doing, and did not use any substances to help me “cope.” I was kind of naturally numb and managed to keep taking care of myself and the kids (kind of on auto-pilot). Then, I felt a sense of peace. I did feel that I was heading in the right direction.

(though I wasn’t actually safe — he was physically violent after we separated — this is so true what they say, that a very dangerous time for the victim is right after they leave the abuser!)

I went out and bought about 30 candles and lit them all through the house, and that helped me feel that I’d turned a page and wasn’t going back. I think rituals like that can help. No one told me to do this… I just kind of spontaneously did it.

And no one knew what I was going through; we’d put up such a good facade of happy family to the world. I think everyone was shocked, and most people just stayed away.

I didn’t feel pain. I felt exhaustion, I felt kind of abandoned, as if I’d been suddenly abducted from my creepy, fake-happy home and left, naked, dripping wet and shivering, in some unnamed forest. (but safe). And all I had to rely on was myself. I had to be numb to get through that without cracking. I had 3 toddler/preschool-age kids to take care of, after all.

Sky and Sisterhood, I so totally agree! Well said, Sky. Not to discount or disagree with 20years, but we all have different and unique experiences with spaths, and for me I feel I was ‘addicted’.

At first I didn’t see how the term applied, but as the truth revealed itself, I could see I had an addictive personality like the ex spath did. I didn’t want to admit ANY similarities we had, but it is what it is. And I knew it was an addiction before I ever knew he was a spath. He revolted me more than anyone ever could, yet I kept going back. It was less painful to stay, so I thought.

And the analogy of them being like an addiction to food? Can I just say YES, you speak my mind Sky. I can see that is true for me with the extra 25 pounds I’ve gained (damn chocolate!)

Sisterhood, I am so with you on the celebrity worship epidemic. Sounds like a lot of people at work have it. They talk more about celebrities then their own real life family or friends. It’s so weird. It’s as if they know these celebrities, most of whom I have no clue who they even are and I don’t mean Whitney Houston, personally. Very awkward.

I always feel sorry for celebrities when they pass from addiction. I’m sure they didn’t lead a life of happiness. But to idolize and mourn their passing like they were a god is just living a virtual life, a fantasy life. True healing didn’t begin for me until I got my head around the fact that it was fake, the spath that is. My relasionshit with the spath was fantasy, unreal, untrue. It was an act and when I got my feet on the ground and started living in the real world is when I can say my addiction stopped. Now I think of IT with the same repulsiveness as 20years and I too can more easily turn from those thoughts to something unrelated.

Reality rocks.

woundlicker,
you’re right that our experiences with the spaths will be varied. Afterall, they mirror us in their presentation so they present what we need to see and that can be different for each of us.

I think one commonality is how badly we want what they seem to offer. That’s because, again, they are mirroring our deepest desires.

There is another thing though, and this is a red flag as much as anything: the drama. They all present us with a big production in which they are the star and we are the supporting cast. In this production, we have very important roles to play. Everything is critical, there is always urgency.
As human beings we respond to any emergency with adrenalin and spaths always keep the emergencies going, so that in the end we become addicted to that adrenalin perhaps most of all.

So in effect, what the spath brings is a big production that makes us feel intense drama and emotion and makes us feel important. When we leave that behind it does sort of feel like an emptiness.

Wow! This is a great conversation.

I watched a two hour special about Whitney. Not because she is a celebrity (I too have a kind of bewildered disgust about our celebrity culture, so don’t watch much TV). But I watched because I had a feeling she was an abused woman, and indeed the program showed a classic pattern of a woman targeted by a Bad Man, and the subsequent distruction of her ‘self’ and her life. And, sadly, in this case to death.

They showed a picture of her toward the end of her relationship, and she was skin and bones (why I call myself Slim One), with acne, and a big FAKE smile on her face. I SO related to this. She was a nervous wreck and ‘acting’ to save her life.

They showed her with Diane Sawyer, denying in one sentence, her abuse by Bobby, and abuse of drugs…then admitting them in the next sentence. And there was a defensiveness in her, and SO much magical and grandiose thinking/expression.

I felt sick watching her, as I felt myself go back to that place and remembered people watching me at work, asking me what was wrong, and I had NO idea how I was being ‘seen’ by my co-workers. Of course I was trying to ‘keep it together’. But I was also a nervous wreck, cried at the drop of a hat, was defensive and filled with a kind of false pride (I think due to the shame I was feeling).

And I wasn’t so deeply in denial as she was.

That addiction to the drama and high impact chemicals this creates in our bodies just eats us alive.

I am infinitely and supremely grateful for all of you…..and for the knowledge I gain here.

xo, Slim

So many wonderful comments here.

I’m checking that book out, “Betrayal Bonds”. Thank you for the suggestion.

When I heard that Whitney was gone, it started me thinking about her life and what may have gone wrong. It has hounded me every day since. Now I’ve just read the comments in this section. Had no idea the extent of the abuse in her marriage. Now things are making sense. When she was married to Bobby, it seemed as if her life wasn’t her own. No wonder her family didn’t want him sitting with them. Smart people. It’s astounding that so much of this is going on, but until someone starts understanding these dynamics we all are talking about, it seems like normal random behavior. Reading Donna’s emails every week or so has really opened my eyes and helped me be able to dissect sensational news stories, etc. Still, it’s hard because this stuff has always occurred just under the radar. I’m used to it. Now I know it is hiding in every nook and cranny. The people who think their religion will get them through the hard times need to realize that religion will only get them so far with truly evil intents. We all need to go to the trained experts on dysfunctional relationships to get some help with healing. We need it more than ever today because this type of dynamic is rapidly increasing. Ok, I’m crawling back under my rock for a while 🙂 cuz the upset is getting all stirred up again. Whitney, your music meant the world to me.

Have a copy of The Betrayal Bond by Patrick Carnes. Called one of the numbers in there for a therapist referral in my area. I’ve been seeing the referral therapist off and on now for 6 months. She is very good and has obviously internalized what she teaches. But…interestingly, she was trained by Pia Mellody, Patrick’s ex. So her training is a bit different that what I expected, yet the bottom line is the same. I was taken aback when I found out that my therapist didn’t have the training I thought she “would”…yet she is helping me with exactly what I need help with. It’s been a God-thing for sure.

Tonight I go to my first session of EMDR. This therapist also does another form of EMDR that is related to Oriental medicine, but don’t remember what it’s called. I need a MIRACLE!!

This is a really helpful post for me. I was in a very abusive relationship to a passive-aggressive man and tried everything I knew to do for 28 years before his abuse broke me. He was diagnosed a pathological liar and Bipolar but I think the diagnosis should have been PA/narcissist. He literally seathed with anger towards me,( but around others he would make me pay while everyone thinking what a quiet and great guy he was.)

One of the final breaking points for me was when I asked him (because he literally ignored me and looked THROUGH me as though I was not there,but would love up the DOG in front of me) when I asked “After 28 years and 4 children will I have to die alone someday too or are you going to be there for me?”

His response: (and he was a Pastor at this time) ” I can’t be in there…..that’s for the doctors and nurses to take care of”. !!!! Then later he denied saying that. So much verbal,emotional and at times physical abuse. He constantly left for 1-3 nights and later I discovered i twas a porn addiction.

I broke in many ways- i physically and emotionally could not do all that he put on me….. and have terrible PTSD. I have used alcohol a little just to medicate. I read books and pray and still the symptoms are raging…..

…… after divorcing him I met and married a true dangerous Spath out to destroy me. I was married to him and barely got out alive after 10 months.

……but Now, I see i have been completely trauma bonded to my first husband of 28 years, I think I married quick to try to medicate the failure, rejection,PTSD,and abuse of that marriage…..and the 2nd Spath was so charming and deceptive that I fell for his lies…and since getting away from him…

… i have tried over and over to get back with the first abusive Spath who would leave me alone to die!!!. Even last night!!! I ALLOW him to reject me over and over AND HE IS LOVING IT!!! It kills me that he has someone else after all the years I tried to get him to allow me”in” and was only rejected over and over. I truly tried everything.

The second Spath destroyed my life so completely that I now look back and the abuse I lived in for 28 yrs. was easier than the life I no longer have at all after Spath destroyed every relationship I have.

I think a starving person will settle for any crumb they can get.

Anyways…I am terribly trauma bonded to the first passive-aggresive Spath because no matter what he did do, he was not AS BAD as the second who was clearly out to DESTROY me and take my life.

I know. Sick. I see it,but I keep going back trying to get him to take me back and finish this life together……I am so broken, and have so much PTSD that its ridiculous.

I read the book trauma bonds but clearly I need to take it further…….

bellaangel – What a tragic story. Please seek professional help, prayer alone is not the answer. Wanting your xspath husband back is a BAD idea, and as you yourself said (sick)…Often our journey begins about them (the spath ) and ends up being more about us..stay safe and stay away from him..

You know what…..I can’t do this anymore!!!! I just went on facebook and the Spath that drugged me and and I found pedophile stuff and he ruined 3 other women…..AND WHO HAS EVERY ONE OF MY FRIENDS ON HIS FACEBOOK AND ALL OF MY FAMILY…and IS WORSHIPPED BY ALL!!!….. just lead a mission trip to mexico AND MY DAUGHTER WENT WITH HIM!! i can;t do this. I am losing my mind. Everyone treats me like shit ACTUALLY NO ONE HAS SPOKEN ONE WORD TO ME IN2 YEARS…… and they worship the ground he walks on and he is a demon from hell. He has taken my ChILDREN FROM ME!!! AND THEN WRITES ABOUT REVIVAL AND GOD MOVING ON THE TRIP!!!!!! hE SHOWED ME HIS EVIL SIDE, AND NOW FLAUNTS THAT HE IS LEADING MISSION TRIPS, AND MY PRECIOUS DAUGHTER WENT WITH HIM!!!

I SERIOUSLY AM LOSING MY MIND NOW. He would tell me I was crazy, demon possessed, and should watch “a beautiful life’ and i have stayed strong…but i CANT WIN!!! HE IS TOO STRONG FOR ME, AND AFTER 2 YEARS OF NC HIS INFLUENCE OVER THE PEOPLE OF MY LIFE JUST KEEPS GROWING,and he is being celebrated while everyone is convinced through him I am crazy…..i am not, Or I wasn’t but I am losing now. I have to go somewhere away from all the people that do not believe me.
….I HAVE TO START A NEW LIFE. i CAN’T LIVE HERE WERE i HAVE NO ONE IN THIS WHOLE COMMUNITY THAT BELIEVES ME!!!
I CAN;T DO THIS ANYMORE.

one/joy_step_at_a_time

Bellangel, Can you move to a new place? Can you start somewhere else, to remove yourself from this painful environment?

I have a 17 yrs old in Jr. High that would have to live with my 1st spath…….but I seriously can;t do this anymore. I have sat alone 2 Christmases and 3 easters…….. no friends or family left. He has destroyed me. and I watch him WORSHIPPED as so GODLY and now my own daughter went on the mission trip he led!!!!!

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