In a relationship, love and forgiveness can conquer most anything if two people are willing to work through the crisis. The problem is this: most people give up at the sign of any discomfort. It is usually one person that makes that decision to say they aren’t going to put up with someone anymore. Sometimes both do and then they say it was mutual when they leave at the end.
Love is easy, you can kiss and make up. Relationships are for grown-ups and require a lot of hard work. Persistence, dedication, love, and commitment to each other. This is the recipe for turning things around. If one or both refuses, they have missed out on an opportunity to grow and become better people. They are essentially running away and choosing to continue living their life in the crisis. This is unfortunate. If they could stay with their partner and do the work, the relationship could potentially transform into a much more powerful union. A sense of relationship enlightenment could ensue.
Over forty years ago, hundreds of people went to their death in a country called Guyana. Back in 1978, I was a teenage girl in high school and two years later wrote my first paper on the topic of “Religious Cults” which would transform my life. On May of
FILE – This Jan. 1976 photo shows the Rev. Jim Jones, pastor of Peoples Temple in San Francisco. Dozens of Peoples Temple members in Guyana survived the mass suicides and murders of more than 900 because they had slipped out of Jonestown or happened to be away Nov. 18, 1978. Those raised in the temple or who joined as teens lost the only life they knew. (AP Photo/File)
2011, I published “The Child of the Narcissist,” on my blog post and began working with survivors of narcissism in my practice. There are different phases that I see. One is the denial phase which is when the person has not yet let the person go. Second, is the acceptance phase which is when they are in realization stage and feel angry, frustrated, duped, taken, had, and wonder “How could I have been so stupid?” Or the child of a narcissist will say “Can they be helped?,” or “Am I destined to become this way?” Thirdly, I see the healing stage when they begin to set boundaries and take back their power and their life. The third stage is a place that they will be in the rest of their life because you must always be conscious, mindful and awake when you meet someone that seems to have certain qualities.
The people of Jonestown are no different than a woman who meets up with some guy who is playing her. People who fall for a narcissistic type are vulnerable, desperate and yearn to be loved and accepted. These type of people (parents are a different category because you aren’t choosing them, though this could be argued from a metaphysical perspective), are very aware of their power over men and women. They have learned – from the cradle – that they are entitled in some way. This can be from a self-imposed entitlement to protect themselves (by self-soothing) or an entitlement given to them by a parent. I have known and learned of parents who say their child is perfect and will do whatever it takes to protect them. This takes away from a child learning when they make a mistake. It takes away from a child growing and evolving over time. A friend’s father was a criminal attorney in Los Angeles and he once told me that mother’s would take second mortgages out on their homes, sell their cars, jewelry, whatever assets they could give up to pay his fees and get their kids off. When I watched the movie “Guyana Tragedy: The Story of Jim Jones,” I remember noting that he was engaged in animal cruelty as a boy.
These past few months have been a struggle for everyone. And yet for some, it has been more difficult than others. This reminds me of the first sentence of Anna Karenina which now rings more true than ever.
All happy families are like one another; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. Leo Tolstoy
Interpreted this can mean that each unhappy family brings different baggage from their own families of origin. Two households merged into one from four parents and siblings. The unhealthy dynamics that played out, inside this home [of origin], were interpreted individually. When a crisis hits a family, each member deals with it in their own separate ways. Thus, bringing all of these family parts, of each couple, into their own domain and without therapy to support these persons, you will have nothing but chaos during this virus (though the relationship started out this way, the virus is just adding to the mess). You are stuck with each other 24/7 and you aren’t retired. One or both of you may be without a job. You may or may not have children, either way being in an uncomfortable situation with someone you are not happy with; it can’t be easy. If you were happy with your partner pre-virus, you are probably doing fine now. If there were lingering problems or elephants in the room; it is much worse by now.