Tag Archive for: relationships





One of the most hurtful and dismissive non-apology apologies is for someone to say: “I’m sorry you feel that way.” It has been said to me about half dozen times by people and communities that I previously thought valued and respected me, or that were friends. It is one of the hidden tricks in an abuser’s toolbox. So let’s examine it for one minute. You’ve come to someone after they’ve been unkind, and you have care, respect and value for that person. You bravely talk about something that might have been hurtful that needs to be discussed openly. You may be an empathetic person that values healthy relational resolution. You may have invested years of friendship or in a working environment, and actually believed that you were valued and cared about. Part of health, transparency and clearing up negative karma, would be in fact, to bring to light and openly discuss something that one has done that was hurtful or insensitive, in order to clear the air and move forward in healthy way. You take a leap and venture into a slight risk of confrontation and say “hey what you said/did was really hurtful or curt and I’d  like to talk about it so we can move forward.”

And here it comes…

The armored, dismissive, narcissistic gut punch…


Ugh! Verbal violence extraordinaire, packed neatly into 6 small cutting words, usually followed up by a victim blaming, defensive counter blame and a litany of self justified excuses. You were not heard, cared about and the abuser has now doubled down, and threw your heart and all dignity under a bus. Where do we find these people, really? Where were they raised? I won’t say a barn, because my daughter works on a farm and the animals, sadly have more natural respect to each other than we often do.

Now, there is one caveat if you do hear these words, and in this case, there is sincere care. If I for example, were to wake up with a migraine and my husband says “I’m sorry you feel that way,” this is not the gaslight-y intention we are referring to above.

Abusers do not want to be accountable, ever. Let me say, ever. They are emotionally and developmentally immature, and their reactive pride is far outweighed over your feelings and longing to be heard and the pain, resolved. There are some versions of the dismissive non-apology, victim blaming to be on alert for:


“I’m sorry you feel that way.”

“I’m sorry you felt that way.”

“You are being dramatic.”

“It’s not my fault you feel upset, you need to own…”

“Why are you so sensitive/emotional/reactive?”

“Can we just move on, why are you holding this?”

“No one else [or insert name drop of another enabler] would have a problem with what I said.”


Please dear ones that care for others, strive for healthy, open and transparent relationships where there is mutual respect, appreciation and value. If you hear any of these false non-apologies, these are intended only to hurt and blame you further. I can recall two times, one recently with a girlfriend and one a few months ago where I got the “I’m sorry feel that way” non-apology and I regret to say it, but it is usually the blazing red flag sign of the end of the friendship.

I Resigned That Day

Another time, I worked for a particularly dysfunctional dharma community, and I was actually yelled at by the director. I was running their website and we had a teacher event coming and I was brand-new to the community. As a volunteer I mistakenly chose the wrong image of another teacher who was coming from Nepal. It was a digital image that I put on the website. As soon as the director told me about it I immediately made the correction apologized profusely for my error.

He turned around and yelled me and accused me of being careless even accused me of being racist, and I was so distraught that I cried. That’s no way to treat an unpaid volunteer, or even a paid one! It turned out that that community had a long list of people that could not work under this director. I recently discussed a lot of these people in these “dharmic” communities have narcissistic tendencies and can be just downright unkind behind the scenes.

They wanted me to continue working and I did too, but I said “how you treated me was very unkind and I don’t feel comfortable and it doesn’t feel safe to continue unless the director had some accountability.” This is what’s called a behavior change request in relationships. And I think it safe to say, you can imagine the response that I got from the director and his assistant. They said to me- here goes…. “we’re sorry you felt that way.” No apology for the unkindness that hedged on abuse, no regrets for my tears it is basically saying a gentleman’s “eff you.” I resigned that day. This pattern repeated itself to a greater or lesser degree with some supposedly dharmic organizations I volunteered for. For many years, I truly blamed myself, but now, stepping back and reviewing, it wasn’t all me.


Please friends, do not allow yourself to be hurt or gaslit and manipulated by unkind (non)-friends or unhealthy communities or workplaces. Do not allow them the power over you to make you feel bad about yourself. If you came to someone with sincerity, an olive branch of longing to be heard to talk about what was hurtful or what was not helpful and the person just dismisses you and has no accountability, it is time to walk away.

I do tend to be a bit Polyanna and codependent always hold on to friendships, oftentimes I’ll give them one more chance and say “hey that wasn’t really an apology I’m still hurt about X,Y and Z,” the original issue. If I’m ghosted, blocked or they respond to me with defense rather than any humility or regret, then it is time to stop the madness and put a firm shut to that door.

Before You Say “I’m sorry you feel that way.”

Now, I know it is part of our survival system that human beings are hardwired to get defensive when confronted. If you do truly value the person and they come with some type of pain or misunderstanding or seeming conflict, and they long to be heard and for resolve, please self reflect as a first step. What they are saying to you just may actually have some validity.

If they truly misheard or misinterpreted something please don’t (ever) say “I’m sorry you feel that way.” You can always say “I’m sorry this happened between us” if you truly did no harm. The best is if someone expresses something to you, take a moment before reacting or defending yourself, sit with it, put yourself in their shoes. Try to see if there’s anything that you might have done and could have done better. I believe you will find something. Once you find it, you can say “you know what I was a little bit unkind or insensitive and for that I’m sorry.” It doesn’t take that much to heal friendships, we all make mistakes, sometimes we have ask ourselves if it is worth a tiny modicum of self-awareness and putting our pride aside to simply, apologize. I think it is. Accountability is kindness, compassion and health.


Photo by Anete Lusina from Pexels
Photo by Vie Studio from Pexels

healthy relationship

Content Reformatted and Reposted in part (2-30) from https://www.elephantjournal.com/2014/12/30-important-questions-to-ask-before-we-commit-to-a-relationship/

December 4, 2014

Author: Edie Weinstein

Editor: Catherine Monkman

1. What can I offer?
2. What do I truly want in a relationship?
3. How do I define relationship?
4. What am I unwilling to accept?
5. What models did you have for loving relationships when you were growing up?
6. What did you learn from them and what did you learn from those that weren’t healthy?
7. What did you learn about self love?
8. How was love expressed in your childhood?
9. If you were a survivor of abuse, how have you done your healing work?
10. If addiction was present in your family, how has it impacted on you?
11. How do you want your relationship to mirror that of your parents and how do you want it to differ?
12. If someone disagrees with you, how do you face it?
13. When things don’t go the way you want, how do you handle disappointment?
14. How do you express emotion, most especially anger?
15. What was the best thing that ever happened in your life?
16. What was the worst thing that ever happened in your life?
17. How do you deal with change?
18. What brings you joy and satisfaction?
19. What are your values—particularly social?
20. How do you take care of yourself physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually?
21. What is your take on child raising when it comes to discipline and consequences?
22. How do you face loss?
23. When the inevitable dark nights of the soul occur, what sustains you until the morning comes?
24. Let’s talk about our sexual desires, experiences and needs.
25. If you were in a committed relationship that shifted, how has your heart healed and are you ready for a new one?
26. Do you remain friends with former partners? (By the way, I see that as a strength if the friendships are healthy and not fraught with jealousy and manipulation.)
27. How do you balance needs for “we time” and “me time,” so that you nourish yourself as well as the relationship?
28. How do you use your resources…saver, spender, sharer with money, time and energy?
29. Do you want a relationship, or do you need a relationship?
30. Who are you without one?


Photo: Man and Woman Lying on Bed Uploaded at May 20, 2017

“Let go of people who are not prepared to love you. This is the hardest thing you will have to do in your life and it will also be the most important thing. Stop having hard conversations with people who don’t want change.
Stop showing up for people who have no interest in your presence. I know your instinct is to do everything to earn the appreciation of those around you, but it’s a boost that steals your time, energy, mental and physical health.


When you begin to fight for a life with joy, interest and commitment, not everyone will be ready to follow you in this place. This doesn’t mean you need to change what you are, it means you should let go of the people who aren’t ready to accompany you.
If you are excluded, insulted, forgotten or ignored by the people you give your time to, you don’t do yourself a favor by continuing to offer your energy and your life. The truth is that you are not for everyone and not everyone is for you.
That’s what makes it so special when you meet people who reciprocate love. You will know how precious you are.


The more time you spend trying to make yourself loved by someone who is unable to, the more time you waste depriving yourself of the possibility of this connection to someone else.
There are billions of people on this planet and many of them will meet with you at your level of interest and commitment.


The more you stay involved with people who use you as a pillow, a background option or a therapist for emotional healing, the longer you stay away from the community you want.
Maybe if you stop showing up, you won’t be wanted. Maybe if you stop trying, the relationship will end. Maybe if you stop texting your phone will stay dark for weeks. That doesn’t mean you ruined the relationship, it means the only thing holding it back was the energy that only you gave to keep it. This is not love, it’s attachment. It’s wanting to give a chance to those who don’t deserve it. You deserve so much, there are people who should not be in your life.
The most valuable thing you have in your life is your time and energy, and both are limited. When you give your time and energy, it will define your existence.


When you realize this, you begin to understand why you are so anxious when you spend time with people, in activities, places or situations that don’t suit you and shouldn’t be around you, your energy is stolen.
You will begin to realize that the most important thing you can do for yourself and for everyone around you is to protect your energy more fiercely than anything else. Make your life a safe haven, in which only ′′compatible′′ people are allowed.
You are not responsible for saving anyone. You are not responsible for convincing them to improve. It’s not your work to exist for people and give your life to them! If you feel bad, if you feel compelled, you will be the root of all your problems, fearing that they will not return the favours you have granted. It’s your only obligation to realize that you are the love of your destiny and accept the love you deserve.


Decide that you deserve true friendship, commitment, true and complete love with healthy and prosperous people. Then wait and see how much everything begins to change. Don’t waste time with people who are not worth it. Change will give you the love, the esteem, happiness and the protection you deserve.”


Edit: Jan. 7, 2021  Credited to ANTHONY HOPKINS, but this has been disputed.

Photo by Garon Piceli from Pexels

A few years ago, I discovered an amazing relationship technique called Imago, a transformative compassion technique developed by Dr. Harville Hendrix and Dr. Helen LaKelly Hunt. I offer a summary of this technique as part of our relationship repair program. It is exceedingly powerful and can help people that have given up on friendships, relationships or marriages to turn them around completely; it helped me personally and still does to this day.

Even the best of us can always refine our relationship skills. We all can get into negative patterns or have moments of emotional immaturity from childhood, that we can regress back into, when triggered. This meme is a summary of some of the warning signs of when we’ve embarked upon the relationship with a toxic person or brought in toxic patterns, and in contrast, what it looks like if we learned healthy patterns. For me, the journey of self awareness and the unceasing opportunity better my relationship with myself, my friends and my family is the essence of the real spiritual path.


listening heart

Overcoming dysfunctional relationship patterns

Healthy Patterns from John Welwood’s- Journey of the Heart
Learning to love well is an ongoing art of maturing and real evolution

Toxic Patterns:

can’t take criticism
never admits to being wrong
plays mind games
extremely manipulative
self serving and selfish
tendency to lie
loves drama
can’t be trusted
expects blind loyalty, but is not loyal
twists everything you say
will not take no for an answer
lacks healthy boundaries
is punitive
stonewalls or silent treatment
is a bully
is entitled
envious or jealous

Healthy Patterns:

welcomes constructive criticism
can admit to being wrong
is clear and fair
thinks of the other
is empathetic
is honest
calms and deescalates
can be trusted
is loyal
actively listens
respects limits
has healthy boundaries
is forgiving
open communication
is humble
has problem solving skills
wants both parties to thrive
capable of sincere care
self aware and skillful

Left content credit to: A Toxic Person
@understandingthenarc/Maria Consiglio

Image from pexels

The Tantric Consort: Awakening Through Relationship

In our semi-apocalyptic time, it seems like many of us are going very deeply into introspection now. Very profound reflection is occurring on a global scale and our very species is on the precipice of survival. I believe that sometimes things have to get very dark before we have the impetus to change, akin to the alcoholic’s need to hit bottom before there’s a sufficient wake-up call and his or her survival instinct is triggered. I really believe with everything within me that this is a healing crisis of our planet, our human relationship to the planet and how we live out of balance with so much greed, our needs, desire and using of the earth’s and human resources in an imbalanced way. But, in order to make this change we have to go deep into our self reflection, look at patterns of who we are, why we feel the need to be so predatory and desire to live way beyond our means and way beyond what’s allocated to us to live in a harmonious, sustainable way.

So what’s been happening is I feel, is that the living quality of Gaia, our Mother Earth has put us all in a timeout now we have to simplify and go inward and really look and reflect who we are, what we want to create and how we can collectively survive. It seems like a lot of us have been catapulted into a fast-track of spiritual development that we weren’t necessarily prepared for. One of the most powerful ways that we can learn and grow, heal some of the deepest, darkest karmic propensities is through relationship with each other.

This is why a lot of us have been experiencing very intense relationships with ourselves, family, friends and a lot have met what is traditionally known as our twin flame. The image of a flame is the power to burn impurities, transform and re-arise like a phoenix. Meeting this person is rare, and they are supposed to be the mirror of a similar energetic signature. The meeting can be a nuclear, cataclysmic, transformative process. What happens when you look in a mirror? You see your own reflection as it is, without alteration, as the adage goes “the mirror doesn’t lie.”

Generally what happens immediately, is that one person runs away and the other person chases the other, like two flickering flames. However through this painful process of longing and heartbreak and misalignment, we begin to realize that both the running and the chasing are both forms of running away from the feeling our own union. Through the claustrophobia of the process and abject, inconsolable pain, we actually begin to see our own inner strength by reeling in the projection and grasping. My teacher told me that there’s nothing more painful than this dynamic between and man and a woman, and that could “drop kick” you into enlightenment. In the Indo-Tibetan Tantras a similar process of evolution occurs when meeting your spiritual consort. Other traditions refer to this as meeting the Beloved. A lot of us have a lot of adolescent, media infused notions of what it would be like to meet our twin flame or spiritual consort. There’s a lot of fantastic talk about union and bliss and Tantric sex and secret tantric sex practices called Karmamudra, but this real world process of growth has very little to do with that.

A Tutelary Relationship

When you meet the person that could best act as a tutelary relationship, that connection is exceedingly powerful and can help you to grow in ways that you never thought possible. Often times, if not every time, one meets this twin flame, a person’s life goes into crisis. Very, very deep dark karmic things immediately come to the surface in an almost uncanny way and causes conflict. Because of that, you attribute your own karmic baggage, blocks and pain to the relationship. This begins the infamous running away from each other process, as the two consider the relationship itself as being toxic. However in reality it’s the complete opposite of toxicity, it’s more akin to healing crisis, shedding light on what needs to be looked at so that we actually have the opportunity to heal.

However in reality it’s the complete opposite of toxicity, it’s more akin to healing crisis, shedding light on what needs to be looked at so that we actually have the opportunity to heal.

Patterns of feeling that we’re unworthy, unlovable, guilty, past issues from childhood wounding, all get stirred up and immediately rise to the surface when you meet what is considered to be a divine friend. You have a choice at that point, you can turn away from this process and try to go back to sleep which is somewhat impossible because the feeling of tapping at your shoulder and the invitation to go further into your own development becomes very loud, obsessive and almost impossible to turn away from. Or, you can recognize what’s happening you can see that indeed, the greatest gift one could encounter in life, is the spiritual consort. However, the encounter is not for the frail-hearted. If you read the history of our Tantric Buddhist Saints, the consort appears in our life and becomes a powerful method to help us open these very deep karmic blocks that we never even knew we had, and now they become accessible.

These three videos below talk about some of the basic conflict, shock and outright consternation that comes if you’ve met your twin flame. They explain the process and  how to handle the energy and survive the intensity of this powerful evolutionary process. A lot of it comes down to just simplifying, and feeling that we are really rooted in our own self-love, wholeness and well-being. It invites us to look at our codependency, grasping and how we use people as we try to make ourselves feel better and indeed social media doesn’t help, but rather exacerbates this serious type of addiction and codependency. The invitation is to begin to feel and reconnect to our own internal brightness and well-being. In tantra, this internal union, warmth free from grasping is called the Mahamudra or the Great Seal.

If you have the good fortune of having met your twin flame or your spiritual consort, you should celebrate because you’ve done sufficient work and are ready for real, core level evolution in this life. I have great faith in our species and the intelligence of the life force of this planet, and can trust the process that we will not allow ourselves to destroy ourselves and we will do this required internal work. Through this ascension into our human potential, we can help each other to live more simply, feel more real love and take care of each other and our planet and evolve into a sustainable and compassionate species that lives in harmony with each other. There will always be hardship; human beings will have moments of pride and greed and divisive things like nationalism, but that I think the fundamental harshness and what is broken this within us must heal in our species in order to survive. The personal affects the collective, so the efficacy of this work can’t be underestimated. Relationship is the most powerful, transformative gateway toward genuine healing and collective social evolution. If we have the fortune of taking time to process grief and really heal our broken spirit, the culmination is that we once again, feel warm and whole, our birthright. This can indeed, even change society. My teacher Tsoknyi Rinpoche once said:

“One person can harm the whole world, one person can help it.”

How magical of a new world we could create, from there~



Image from Pixabay
Lighted Match With Smoke on Black Background
Uploaded at March 03, 2016 and Closeup Photography of Pink Rose Flower

How to completely heal from narcissistic abuse, loss of one’s faith and become a light in a darkening world.


I grew up in a rough culture on the east coast of the United States, in Newport, Rhode Island. I was raised by a teenage mother who didn’t really have any capacity to love me. My dad left when I was 3 and the environment before then was riddled with fighting, alcoholism and violence. She remarried right away but I think due to the trauma, she was always preoccupied with herself. She seemed always in fear, very controlling, involved with vanity, how she looked, how she appeared to the world and everything centered around her and her needs. She was emotionally somewhat histrionic and the whole family walked on eggshells in fear of her temper and her hostile reaction toward us. There was no room for me and in the home, I was considered a nuisance. I was then spanked by my stepfather weekly, criticized often and spent most of my time alone in my room. I cried untold tears. I was told I was ugly, devalued and ignored and oftentimes my mother said that she wish that she never had me.

I went to school always thinking that I was a misfit and there’s something deeply wrong with me and I really wasn’t worthy of love. So I started to read a lot of books and I studied really well and I always tried to make the teachers happy with me because that was the only sense of appreciation from anyone in authority that I had. I was really close with my teachers, got the perfect grades and one time my teacher even said to my mom that I was really bright, so much so that I should go to a special school for the gifted. The teacher was concerned because I was also really sensitive and I would get bullied and beaten up and teased a lot. This all now makes sense how I grew up because if I didn’t feel a sense of worth and confidence, small children could pick up on that weakness and I’ve always been targeted for my vulnerability.

Because of the teenage pregnancy and the pain my mother suffered and her fear, she was somewhat dissociated and unwell. I would try to spend time with her and she would send me away. I realized later that she had developed into becoming a full spectrum narcissist that was not capable of loving anyone other than thinking of herself. There was no way that we could ever resolve it as mother and daughter, since part of the narcissistic mindset denies it’s own hostility and projects all negative qualities onto other people. Narcissists, as well as other personality disorders, often must have a target of their shadow and blame. For my entire life for her, I was the chosen one. Thanks Mom!

I was fortunate in my later years to discover a book called Healing the Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers, and sought counseling with the author Dr. Karyl McBride, a co-survivor. What I realized is that narcissism at it’s root, is the healthy longing for a person to take care of themselves, gone awry. What I realized is that, if we actually feel a sense of inner love and well-being, from there we can love others. The narcissists attempt to pay attention to something that’s broken inside is at it core, correct. Where it goes wrong is that the foundation of real healing and self-love is not there and in fact it’s often an emotional vacuum, devoid of compassion. From that vacuum, you begin to see others as something that you can use to fill up that hollowness and heal a core of fundamental self hatred.

Part of the fallout in this life was of course in my adulthood, to  recreate the pattern of feeling broken and bullied and looking for other friends, lovers and organizations to make everything right. This is the quintessential codependent  person that likewise feels broken and unwell and uses other people like a drug to put a giant Band-Aid on their loneliness. I would follow rock stars and then cult-like spiritual groups and none of this was super healthy because it was predicated on me feeling hollow, and unworthy looking for something, anything outside of myself to fill the void.


A NEW DAY… uncover bulletproof self love and genuine warmth for others

There’s a Buddhist slogan that says “be grateful to everyone.” I am not angry or bitter that anyone hurt me in this life, they probably had a harder time than I did, and maybe suffer even more. My spiritual community who I used to find solace and meaning in, recency dismantled in the wake of #metoo. I discovered later that guru worship had a lot of covert, exploitative narcissists, it figures that these communities felt somehow familiar. I found myself adrift, really, palpably alone. I decided to take a genuine honest look at my life, who I really am rawly and what matters to me. I feel like I gained my identity through this spiritual community and my friends there and without that, I felt devastated. I have my family but everything was starting to fall apart into an abyss and I wondered, what really has any meaning?

So from there, I decided to really go inward and not depend upon anything or anyone to make me feel better. I began to shutdown social media for longer lengths of time as to not depend upon people liking my posts to faux-foster self-esteem. I took some time to go into solitary retreat as much as I could. I was away from my husband and daughter and taking silence from some friends. I began to journal, meditate and begin the most rigorous process of self inquiry I could muster.

Then, something dawned upon me, a basic truism that I guess everyone else at figured out, but it’s taken me 50 years to realize…

I can’t love another person in a healthy way unless I have strong core of real self-love and self well-being to rely on.

This was my Aha! moment. I asked myself- how to have this life feel meaningful, how to love others and with hope, be of benefit? I can’t be codependent and broken and needing other people or religion or paltry social media to define who I am and make me feel better. I knew that was never going to work, so I decided- let’s start at square one, go into radical self-care and have a love affair with… myself… saucy. It’s a perfect time because all of us are on somewhat of a social timeout with the pandemic so it’s a great time to go inward.


I decided to get up in the morning and do some stretching or some cardio, enjoy sipping dark coffee and take warm essential oil baths. During my retreats over the years I use to meditate 8 to 10 hours a day and do a lot of chanting and complex visualizations. This time, I decided to just take time for me without any schedule or agenda, and just let life talk to me about what is fun and reconnect the sense of magic and wonder that maybe I’ve never even had in childhood. I decided to take a week or so and have absolutely no schedule (and I do feel grateful for the privilege to be able to take this time). I did whatever I wanted to do, if I wanted to journal on my blog, I would write, if I wanted to go for a walk I’d go for a walk, if I want to bake something special for myself I would. If I wanted to cry, I’d cry, whatever was there was listened to and honored, nothing repressed. It’s actually kind of outrageous to take even a day, a weekend, a week or a month to just feel alive, go outside and feel grass under your feet, feel sun on your cheeks, lay on a hammock and see a cloudless sky, and just feel like this life is yours, rather than always having to do something for work or for someone else.

This is where a little tiny light inside my heart started to shine and turn on. I could see it in my eyes when I looked at myself in the mirror, I began to feel the sense of self-love and self appreciation and gratitude for this life. I don’t think I really had this before, it’s taken more than half of my life to finally feel this, and it required that I let go of my tradition, every spiritual, ego prop and support.


self care


I begin to see how real love and real well-being works since it’s never been modeled to me before. If we have this inner spark of warmth, the power and efficacy of that can’t be underestimated. The cultivation of inner warmth can give us so much strength to be able to handle these darkening times. If we can take refuge in our own inner love and well-being in real way, we can’t be narcissistic or codependent, these facets of the same brokenness dissolve. In Buddhism, we call this maitri and and it’s considered a wish fulfilling jewel or diamond. Inner warmth is like a diamond because if you think about it for a minute, if someone criticizes you it may hurt but it doesn’t stick because you know yourself and are grounded in your own well-being. Likewise, if someone complements you or likes your social media, it doesn’t get used as ego’s fodder. We consider this process of compliment and criticism to be one of the worldly dharmas. Things are always arising in duality, both positive and negative, we have both floods and rainbows, love and loss, everything is always changing. Behind that, there’s an inner mountain of real strength that we can access, that we can have our own backs, even up unto our last breath. Through taking time for this deep self care, a love affair firstly with ourselves, we can finally uncover this real, bulletproof inner warmth and joy. You’ve heard the cliche, “you can’t love anyone if you can’t love yourself.” If the relationship with ourselves is caring with positive self talk, we can then create healthy interactions with others, with qualities of real compassion, listening, patience and problem solving.

“Tune in, turn on” and shine your light into these dark times my dear friends, it can help to change our very world. ☀️



Photo by Joshua Abner from Pexels

healthy love

I think in these days of speed and trauma and a lot of us living in the Internet, I think we’ve learned maladaptive patterns of what it is to be in a healthy relationship. If we’ve grown up with a dysfunctional family, we may not even know what that is. Oftentimes love is just a series of manipulations and games, based on our brokenness and our unhealed wounding. We’re so afraid of getting hurt that we wind up withdrawing and hurting the other person first. Love can be just become a sad strategic game of power and control. Psychological and emotional abuse can be some of the only ways that people know how to relate. Unhealthy dynamics of narcissism and codependency, where you have a push me-pull you based on our co/core brokenness can become the norm.

I have the good fortune of being married for 20 years and have a healthy family and daughter, but it was hard forged. I came from a dysfunctional family and had myriads of abusive relationships before meeting my husband in my late 20s. Before him, I was even attacked a few times, once it was sadly close to deadly. I wasn’t able to see the red flags and from my naïveté and lack of experience, I didn’t know what types of men to stay away from and what types to accept. Thankfully, I did learn and I chose a very stable, grounded and clear person that has said that he would stay with me for my entire life.

However, no marriage is perfect and no person is perfect. We all have our strengths and weaknesses, personality flaws and capacities. The greatest danger in a long-term marriage is you can stop listening to each other, take each other for granted and you stop learning and growing. It happens all too often that the relationship over many years begins to flatline. I believe at this point, that marriages can fail. I think we’re hardwired two want to learn, to grow, to better ourselves and evolve through honest self reflection and introspection. I think it’s important for us to examine what real healthy love looks like versus unhealthy patterns.

I have always felt that relationship *is* the path, so the quality of love and how we are with those close to us, is our spiritual teacher, is everything. I’ve heard time and time again, from people on their deathbed, that the only thing that they say really mattered to them was the people that they love and any regrets that they have for anyone that they’ve hurt. Even people who have great devotion in some faith very rarely talk about the afterlife or their religious beliefs, it always comes down to the people who we treasured and who love us.

The first step I find in being able to be in healthy relationship is to be in a healthy relationship with myself. Do I talk to myself with a sense of gratitude, appreciation, forgiveness and kindness? Do I do the things that involve self-care like eating well, exercise, meditating and living my life’s calling as best as I can? Our romantic relationships will be a reflection of how we love, talk to and treat ourselves. From there, I think we naturally choose people that are capable of loving in a healthy way, are able to problem solve if difficulties arise and most importantly, people who can apologize and make personal change if they happen to make a mistake.

This is the single most key that differentiates a person with solid, closed, defensive narcissistic tendencies, from someone that is on some type of spiritual path of self awakening. This list above is a very simple and good guideline for us to examine the difference between genuine healthy love and love that is codependent based on our wounding and our trauma. I always say just like Jung’s image of the shadow, the moment you shine a light on a shadow, it disappears. I believe the no matter what happen to us in this life, no matter how much pain we are in, no matter how much trauma, all of us with some effort, deserve to love well and to be loved well. I don’t think any of us are cursed to be doomed to live a life of lonely solitude because of the things that happen to us. Once again, looking at how we can create the greatest love within and without is to me, the essence of the entire, truly brave, spiritual path.

We all long for and deserve the highest love.

There’s been a lot of public hype recently about something called twin flames. The notion is that there’s only one person out there that shares a very similar energetic signature that’s literally the other half of your soul. It’s deeper than a loving soulmate, it’s actually considered to be a mirror of yourself, like as if the mind/ spirit part of you split in two bodies. In Hollywood we’ve heard a lot about Megan Fox believing that her twin flame is Gun Kelly, and they share some type of special, magic, passionate, transformative and unbreakable bond.

I have some personal experience regarding this phenomena and a few insights, since there seems to be a lot of confusion, conflict and pain associated with people’s experiences. I once encountered someone who threw my entire world upside down. I began to reevaluate my life, my religion (riddled with scandals after our #metoo movement), and my very place in this world and purpose. There was an uncanny confluence where a very short period of time spent with this person, caused me to unearth very deep core, childhood wounds that I thought that I had well-healed from.

However, even with the propensity for going deep and internal growth, there was still a lot of high conflict, hostility and projection, which caused both of us to breakdown communication and be in no contact (to survive, literally). All of this pain and rapid triggering, according to the experts, is a classic and quintessential twin flame encounter.

I broke down or open, if you will, deeply into myself and wondered “was this all my fault, what did I do wrong, what should I do to fix this, is it fixable? What happened to me in my past that could have caused such heartbreak? What happened to the other in his past where he could be so mistrustful and wounded and filled with nothing short of hatred?” After it was clear that no resolve with him at that point was possible, I sought help from my spiritual teachers and my meditation practice. I journaled, wrote poems and cried endless tears. I joined with other twin flame forums to try to parse out what was happening to me. My friends said they had never seen me as wounded and injured by anyone in my entire life. Some people were really supportive and allowed a compassionate ear for me to cry and process, and other’s victim blamed and said “oh I was too attached and I should get over all this emotionality and be in some type of more spiritually evolved, ‘higher vibration.'” I was even insulted on twin flame support forums for not being “love and light-y” enough. No one could really stop or heal the momentum of the tears of confusion, it felt like my heart had been put into a wheat thrasher.

One of the current themes of our support groups on Facebook is that people can’t assess whether or not this is a spiritual connection or classic narcissistic/borderline abuse. There are overtones of both and one thing I like to mention is that there’s a huge amount of awareness about narcissism because it is very culturally prevalent these days. We don’t talk enough about other personality disorders which are almost as statistically prevalent, namely borderline, only 1/2 a percentage point less frequently occurring in society, according to the DSMIV.

From what I read, unlike narcissism, which can be cold, borderline personality is a highly emotionally reactive type of disorder. There is often a person that gets targeted by the borderline and there’s an energetic entrainment. It’s a type of psychic, emotional vampirism, and is exceedingly destructive, poisonous, hurtful and life draining. It’s unfortunately, often the outcome for people who were physically or/or sexually abused or profoundly neglected at very early age; they have a lot of trouble with trust and being able to love people in any healthy way. There is a tendency to see others as all black-and-white, with an intense love-hate attachment and fear of abandonment, it’s called lack of object constancy. The good news is, that according to Dr. Ramani, Borderline Personality Disorder is treatable, whereas with narcissism, there is little hope that they will ever seek help.

The Runner/ Chaser- A Classic Dance of a Narcissist and a Codependent

The recipient of a disordered person’s attack can experience confusion and crazy making. They will often receive dichotomous, mixed messages like: “I hate you, leave me alone, don’t leave me” all in one sentence. This is common and an expression of deep inner conflict, fear and wounding. When an unsuspecting, open and caring person encounters someone like this, the harm strikes really deep and it triggers any of the recipient’s unhealed abandonment issues. Also, the pain and hurt instigates any propensity to try to rescue and remedy the situation, almost to the point of compulsion. The compulsion comes because the narc/borderline was often so cruel and saw us in a dehumanizing, exceedingly negative light, and we strive to prove them wrong. This process, when someone takes away all of our dignity, value and power is nothing short of devastating. Now, none of us are labels, but there are some regular established patterns with certain maladaptive patterns that can help us all to contextualize and make sense of our experiences. These two videos below even though they’re cartoons, they perfectly encapsulate what a lot of us have been experiencing with these so called, twin flame connections. If any of this resonates, I urge you to listen to every word.

So, all of this forces us to assess the rich and colorful palette of narcissistic abuse which entails: hostility, projection, devaluing, discarding, stonewalling, ghosting and hoovering. These abusive games should not in the least, be of interest to a healthy person. It’s not some spiritual “twin flame runner and chaser” that is trying to find balance, it’s abuse, period.  An affirmation to let go of a hurtful “twin flame” might say:

“Thank you so much for letting me see myself, the fact that I feel that I’m lovable what I want and what I don’t and as it is, I’ll have to let you go. I would always care about you, and hoped it could’ve been different but without any change, insight, contrition or treatment, repeated unhealthy patterns are not sustainable. I hope to see you in the ‘next life,’ where we have a more healed, supportive, nurturing and whole existence.”




So, the question still stands… is the conflict of meeting someone and falling deeply into “love” (or codependency) and hurt like this, a true twin flame or is it just being confused/ conflated with narcissistic or some personality disordered abuse? My assessment from personal experience as of today, is that it’s both occurring simultaneously. One is the undercurrent of our karmic connections, propensities and childhood experiences. The other, meeting someone and feeling sense of familiarity and synchronicity that both breaks and opens you, that’s all real. There is a spiritual and karmic undercurrent of this whole process. However divine and absolute that is, as one expert in BPD, A.J. Mahari coins: “there is never an excuse for abuse.” We must also admit, the codependents that try to fix are often as wounded as the abusers, so it’s not about blame, is about healing, discrimination, healthy boundaries and manifesting genuine, healthy love. 

We must strive for and accept no less than healthy love, and here are some guidelines:

  • There is no physical, emotional or psychological abuse
  • You feel heard, cared for and respected
  • You are able to have open, honest communication, never any lies or games
  • You have skills to successfully resolve disagreements and conflict
  • You bring out the best in each other and support each other to flourish

If you are experiencing abuse, it’s never ok, please seek professional help and if the connection is untenable. It’s a facet of self care, self love and compassion, to leave toxic, destructive situations. The hope that people will magically change abusive patterns can be the most tragic loss of time, energy and our precious life. The mantra for empaths and codependents who wait and hope that it will get better with a narcissist, borderline or other untreated disordered person is:


I was taught to never give up on anyone, and I to this day believe that with the proper support system, no one is irredeemable, if one were to get help. It’s just a sad truism that part of certain people’s disorder is to deny, not see their shortcomings and unhealed places, but rather blame everyone else, constantly, vehemently. The codependent in contrast, blames themselves and continually apologies and tries to rescue, desperately. It’s the quintessence of the “bad boy” attraction that many women have, or men who are attracted to “unattainable” withholding women. There is an intense drive to heal and fix, and “unite,” but this is the very definition of codependency. I think there is a longing also admittedly, to be valued and needed. What many learn the hard way, is that this task is perilous, it’s par with trying to get anyone to stop drinking. Change must come from within. There is a dangerous and toxic back and forth, damaging dynamic, that can go on for a lifetime between people with an untreated personality disorder and codependents, and no, it’s not a healthy, spiritual “twin flame.” No relationship is perfect, but we can get help or steer clear of ones that are harmful without resolve. Stay with healthy, loving people who see your light, and moreso, uncover it within yourself, for yourself and then shine.

Wellness to all,
Dawn Boiani-Sandberg

“The dharma means seeing things clearly, as they are”

Owner Buddhistmala.com

Photo Credit Dante’s Inerno, artist: James de Villiers
I’ve a wide-ranging interest in the arts from painting and drawing to music composition as well as science. My art deals with the primal forces of nature.