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While manning our advocacy group’s booth in November, one of our team members handed me this book and asked if I’d write a review. At the time I had a stack of books I was trying to get through. I finally finished this one and now believe there are millions of people who can benefit from it– not just victims of narcissists, but those who often enable narcissists by falling for their act.

The Covert Passive Aggressive Narcissist: Recognizing the Traits and Finding Healing After Hidden Emotional and Psychological Abuse was written by Debbie Mirza. Mirza clearly knows what it’s like to be taken advantage of by these self-serving, mask-wearing abusers. The deeper into the book you read, the more empathy she expresses towards those whose lives have been altered by this type of abuse.

We are all familiar with the traditional definition of narcissism, which includes largely obvious attributes such as arrogance, entitlement, and an exaggerated sense of self-importance. Narcissists are more special than you– and they let you know it. They should be the most admired, the most desired, regarded as the most brilliant. Their time is more important, their needs and wants should take precedence, they should be the first ones in line, in the lifeboat, getting the promotion.

Narcissism stems from a distorted sense of self and a lack of empathy for others. Seeking to fill the void inside them, and achieve this status they believe they should have, they use other people as fuel for their egomaniacal furnace. They can be particularly attracted to high empathy, caring, considerate humans who have many of the traits they lack. Sandra L. Brown has written extensively about this dynamic including in her books Women Who Love Psychopaths and How to Spot a Dangerous Man.

The Mayo Clinic reminds us that:

Symptoms of narcissistic personality disorder and how severe they are can vary. People with the disorder can:

  • Have an unreasonably high sense of self-importance and require constant, excessive admiration.
  • Feel that they deserve privileges and special treatment.
  • Expect to be recognized as superior even without achievements.
  • Make achievements and talents seem bigger than they are.
  • Be preoccupied with fantasies about success, power, brilliance, beauty or the perfect mate.
  • Believe they are superior to others and can only spend time with or be understood by equally special people.
  • Be critical of and look down on people they feel are not important.
  • Expect special favors and expect other people to do what they want without questioning them.
  • Take advantage of others to get what they want.
  • Have an inability or unwillingness to recognize the needs and feelings of others.
  • Be envious of others and believe others envy them.
  • Behave in an arrogant way, brag a lot and come across as conceited.
  • Insist on having the best of everything — for instance, the best car or office.

At the same time, people with narcissistic personality disorder have trouble handling anything they view as criticism. They can:

  • Become impatient or angry when they don’t receive special recognition or treatment.
  • Have major problems interacting with others and easily feel slighted.
  • React with rage or contempt and try to belittle other people to make themselves appear superior.
  • Have difficulty managing their emotions and behavior.
  • Experience major problems dealing with stress and adapting to change.
  • Withdraw from or avoid situations in which they might fail.
  • Feel depressed and moody because they fall short of perfection.
  • Have secret feelings of insecurity, shame, humiliation and fear of being exposed as a failure.

Mirza acknowledges these symptoms and then says, “but wait, there’s more.” Having worked with many people traumatized by narcissists, she recognized that there is a much less obvious type of narcissism. A covert passive aggressive narcissist is much more selective about who they show their true colors around. To the rest of the world, they may appear to be a warm, helpful, fun to hang out with, ideal partner, relative, or coworkers, the kind of person who is lauded for their generous, go-getter attitudes. To their selected targets, they are someone else entirely– abusive, insulting, demeaning, demanding, dishonest, immature, entitled, sadistic.

What makes this one of the best books on narcissism that I’ve read, besides being well-organized and understandable, is that Mirza tells us exactly how this victimization unfolds. If you have been through the hell of narcissism, you might have a “eureka!” moment as you recognize that this mirrors domestic violence regardless of the type of relationship involved. The parallels are real.

Mirza notes that whether this process begins in a romantic relationship, family relationship, friendship, or in the workplace, the covert passive aggressive narcissist starts by buttering you up. Initially they mirror you, so you can’t believe how alike you are. You let your defenses down as you find them so relatable, so outgoing, so easy to get along with. In reality, they are gathering information and probing for weaknesses. You also feel for them, because they tell you personal details that will elicit sympathy. You feel like you want to do extra to help them because of all they’ve been through.

But then the criticisms and jabs begin. This may be almost imperceptible at first. You may start to believe that you’re not helping them enough, or being a supportive enough player in their life. They begin to “teach you lessons” and show you how you’re allegedly inadequate. You will be given “the look” and be at the mercy of their moods. They may “reward” you with some buttering up still only to knock you back off of your feet as they create an increasing amount of drama.

Before long, the victim becomes the one holding up the relationship. As they struggle to keep the peace and reignite the positive aspects of the relationship that seemed to be there in the beginning, they are increasingly demeaned and devalued. Worse yet, the covert passive aggressive narcissist appeals to others’ sympathy, enlisting their help in targeting the victim. These accomplished liars are adept at convincing those around the victim that the victim is doing something wrong. The narcissist projects their own demons onto the victim and others believe them. Soon there may be a whole gang within a victim’s social circle, family, or workplace defending the narcissist and gaslighting the victim.

At some point, the narcissist will reject their target, tossing them aside like a piece of garbage. The victim might struggle to maintain the relationship, but that horrible realization that they’ve been used will start to sink in. The truth is, there is no genuine relationship, they don’t really care about you, and you’re just a means to an end. You were just the stairs they climbed to attain a higher status or achieve a goal. Learning the truth can ruin a victim’s life, making them feel unworthy, unloved, even suicidal. But it should be a reflection upon how depraved the narcissist is, how far they’re willing to go to feel powerful, loved, capable, successful.

After describing this process, Mirza delves into the traits that covert passive aggressive narcissists have. She then details their control and manipulation tactics. You will see how both fit into the previous process– and why this is so insidious compared to our average definition of a narcissist. While their tactics may be painfully obvious to their targets, they are highly skilled at convincing others they’re the real victims. Because they are so “wonderful” to others, maintaining the appearance that they are gracious contributors to the greater good, their targets’ experiences are minimized. “Surely the dynamic PTA mom or the gregarious advertising executive couldn’t be guilty of that.” The trauma the victim is suffering may be used to justify the narcissist’s claims that they are unstable/emotional/mental.

Now that I’ve touched on the horrors that this type of narcissist commits, I’ll leave it up to the author to detail the rest. Mirza spends the next part of her book discussing why narcissists might do it and how all of this plays out in parenting, dating, and marriage. A good portion of this book is dedicated to healing as well. While easy to read, these parts of the book should be digested slowly. The way Mirza approaches these topics can completely expose the web of lies targets have been entangled in– and how to shed these sticky strands completely.

An extremely valuable part of the book is where Mirza teaches survivors of covert passive aggressive narcissistic abuse to trust their guts in order to recognize it for what it is. She teaches the reader in simple terms what’s healthy and what’s not. These are concepts that should be taught to human beings from childhood. Yet many adults are unequipped for real love, or healthy work relationships or friendships, making this book all the more valuable. Mirza believes that survivors can heal and offers additional resources at the end of the book.

A wide range of people would benefit from this book. While much of its content is geared towards narcissists’ targets, this book is a great way to learn how NOT to be used by them. It helps readers discern when they’re being played and why they might be susceptible to it. All in all, this is a great read, another weapon in an advocate’s arsenal against the dangerous abusers among us.


©2022 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com

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Why didn’t she leave?

Why wasn’t there an arrest?

We didn’t see anything wrong; they seemed like the perfect couple.

These are the statements people often make when they learn about an abusive relationship, especially when one ends in homicide. Assumptions about domestic violence are rife in modern society. We tend to armchair quarterback others’ relationships instead of taking the time to understand the dynamics of and patterns within domestic violence.

Jane Monckton Smith, a Professor of Public Protection in the UK, has written In Control: Dangerous Relationships and How They End in Murder. You may have seen Professor Monckton Smith being interviewed on crime shows or have read her other books. This book, however, should be required reading for humanity.

Monckton Smith takes readers through eight easy-to-understand stages of how domestic violence progresses to homicide. She offers examples from her own career that are relatable and straightforward. Many can see their own tendencies, or that of someone they know, in the people she has studied and interviewed.

By the end of this book, you might be stunned by how simple, how logical, how obvious these eight stages are. Using the eight stages as a template, you can set that template on nearly any deadly domestic situation and see how closely it fits. All of us, with rare exception, are very familiar with deadly relationships thanks to the media, so this can be used as a tool to understand what has actually happened.

I firmly agree with Monckton Smith that people don’t “just lose it,” one of the premises of this book. That is a myth. The “crime of passion” theory, that someone was murdered in the heat of the moment, is a convenient go-to explanation, sometimes used so that we don’t have to deal with the gruesome reality of the buildup and outcome. As she explains, long before the murder there is a devaluing of the victim and decisions are made by the killer that culminate in the taking of a human life.

Monckton Smith is also wise to point out the erroneous judgments society makes against the victims. She has great empathy for why victims are trapped in dangerous relationships and why they can’t usually “just leave.” We always seem to ask this after someone is hurt or dead, “why didn’t she just leave?” At one point in the book she asks, “why didn’t he leave?” He (or she) had the freedom to leave at any time: they had the means, the freedom, the income, the ability to exit safely, not the victim.

This statement– why didn’t he leave– nails what domestic violence is all about: power and control. Abusers don’t want to give up power and control. This is why the risk of homicide goes up so dramatically when a victim tries to leave an abusive relationship; the abuser still wants control. Some abusers are so desperate to retain control that they are willing to kill their partner, spouse, and even their own children so that they “win.”

The author features interviews with actual murderers in this book to show that power and control takes different forms. Others may see the “nice guy,” the “quiet recluse,” the “violent drunk,” or the “jilted lover.” These killers may present as something entirely opposite of who they are. Thanks to her experiences in policing in particular, she looks deeper, finding that yes, regardless of how different these killers are, they still progressed through the stages that lead to homicide.

Beneath different personalities, beneath different MOs, beneath different situations and circumstances, Monckton Smith identifies an often insidious progression that leads from alleged love to cold, calculated death. Its presence in so many different cases is eerie and unsettling. Yet if we would simply educate people about it, it would be so much more obvious to all when it occurs. We would be able to stop the fatal progression and save lives.

We should be educating children about domestic violence. Teens should absolutely know the warning signs of a controlling relationship. They should also know how and where to get help. Imagine if we made In Control required reading in high schools, if we actually sent young people into adulthood with a functional knowledge of what constitutes a healthy relationship and what does not. Many of us had no clue. But with a book like this, there are no more excuses.

As a side note, there are references in this book to the UK’s legal system and police forces that Americans may be unfamiliar with. You should be able to figure them out quickly, and Monckton Smith does explain some of them.

Overall, please consider sharing In Control with your local schools, shelters, advocates, police forces, libraries, and especially churches. Churches sometimes have a particular naivete about this progression to death, blaming and shaming victims instead. It’s time that we all know this, we all use this, and we stop letting these eight stages run their course until they culminate in murder.

No more excuses. There aren’t any more excuses with a book like this available.


©2022 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com

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Wow.

I just watched this video by Fabio D’Andrea and Mel B. It says everything without saying a word.

This is four minutes of truth that showcases the horrifying ebb and flow of an abusive relationship.

Abusive relationships don’t start this way. The abuser may sweep the victim off their feet, seeming like a long-awaited soul mate. They may be charming, be well-liked, seem vulnerable. They may be that “great guy” or the “perfect woman.” They may convince you they’re the only one who really understands.

They start to test you, start to push your boundaries. Drop by drop, before you have any idea what’s happening, they suck your sense of self away. You begin to lose control over small decisions. Your friends aren’t quite up to their standards, so you start spending more time with theirs. They want to know where you are and who you’re with. If you deny them anything, the guilt trips will fall like hail until they win.

Seeing that you have been conditioned not to stand up for yourself, you’re screamed at. Accused of cheating. Pushed down. Spat upon. Slapped across the face. Fearing more, and in many cases being at a size disadvantage, you don’t fight back. When it’s over, and the sullen silence finally breaks, they’re sorry. They buy you something. They make you dinner. And the cycle of violence begins all over as you think or they promise it will never happen again. Some never make it out of that cycle alive.

In this video, you see the seething sense of entitlement the man has. She is his property. She is his prize. He’s charming, attractive, masculine, and tender in public. He has the crowd’s approval. They appear to be a wealthy, successful, well-matched couple. In private he terrorizes her, surveils her, beats on her to show her she’s not worthy of a man like him. He takes her money out of her wallet. He demands she wear something sexier to their party.

The ending scene is eerily familiar to survivors of abuse. The aerial view, like at the beginning, shows how truly isolated she was. You might leave with nothing. You might not know where you’re going. You hope he doesn’t chase you down while you’re running. But you took that step. And you’ll take the next step, and the next step, and get farther and farther away from your former life.

The farther away you get, the more you’ll detoxify. You’ll realize some people you thought were friends were enabling the abuse because they didn’t want to deal with the reality of your situation. It will dawn on you how much you were brainwashed. You’ll wonder why you ever laughed at those crude jokes, why you compromised yourself in a losing effort to please someone who took pleasure in the misery of others. You’ll be surprised to find yourself again.

If you are in a relationship like this, please know that nothing you do will ever be good enough for the person who is hurting you. They are a bottomless pit that no amount of your love can fill. You can’t fix them. It is not God’s will that you learn obedience, humility, or how to be a better spouse through their violence. God wants you to be healthy, unhurt, strong. You need an escape plan so that you, and possibly your children and pets, can exit the relationship safely. Talk to an expert, call a hotline when it’s safe to do so.

In the United States, we have The Hotline, 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). You can talk, text, or chat from the website.

There’s also a tool that can help you Document the Abuse.

No, you don’t deserve this. You never did. You might be a man. You might be a woman. You might be gay, straight, asexual, rich, poor, introverted, extroverted, unemployed, a CEO. This affects human beings from all walks. All.

And it must stop.

You’re not a victim for sharing your story. You are a survivor setting the world on fire with your truth. And you never know who needs your light, your warmth, and raging courage.

Alex Elle

©2021 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

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Keeping your sense of humor is important in such times, yes? Oh yes. This is why one Alfred Matthew Yankovic’s insights and creativity are so necessary right now. I was nodding off last night when I happened to turn on the second video and then almost fell off the furniture laughing.

Please do not taking the gargling suggestion in this PSA seriously

Dark humor is sometimes criticized as inappropriate, especially during crises. But as the Washington Post just said, where there’s humor, there’s hope. We all know that it’s critical to practice social distancing and wash our hands right now (believe me, you WILL wash your hands after watching the second video!). We all know people who are suffering and many are going out of their way to help them.

As we come together and find ways to assist our friends and neighbors, dark humor is one way we connect. It brings us together regardless of our politics and religion. It’s a coping mechanism. It’s a relief valve. This type of humor is particularly prevalent among essential personnel in public service. Given the demands of those jobs and the sometimes gruesome, graphic nature of the work, it’s natural to seek levity from within the gravity. Dark humor has been utilized this way for hundreds if not thousands of years, especially in the days before running water and antibiotics.

Image result for coronavirus memes

Laughing about the precautions we have to take, the nationwide disappearance of toilet paper, and the black market activity is better than panicking or going medieval on others. Already there have been upticks in incidences of domestic violence while people are forced to stay home, which is a great reason to have the National Domestic Violence Hotline number handy, 1-800-799-7233. This is one page keeping tabs on the rise in DV during quarantine.

These are strange times, times in which a Wiggles song could save an entire species. Did you know that 30 percent of Americans don’t wash their hands after using the bathroom? Did you know that there are bathrooms in grocery stores and people squeeze the avocados to select the most suitable candidate after using the bathroom? Can it not be deduced, then, that 30 percent of avocados… you see where this is going. In a slight modification of the old Sunday School song, wash your hands, all you people.

uncaptioned
From Forbes

The rise of zombie shopping is real. I saw this near Seattle the other night. A woman with a mask was erratically pushing an overflowing cart around the grocery store, sweeping quantities of canned goods off of the shelves into the cart with one arm. Her eyes were fixed. She had no situational awareness and almost ran into me about four times. It’s possible that she was ill and anxiety is a literal hell of a struggle for many people. I pray that she finds peace, support, love. This fear and oblivion, however legitimate, has created safety and supply issues for the rest of us as people become more desperate.

Disaster psychology has long fascinated me. I have been greatly concerned about how the Seattle area will respond in a crisis because it has become so politically polarized. It’s a fair question to ask if people of all walks will be able to work together when the going gets tough. We’re doing well enough, although a power outage or earthquake would push people over the edge. Three days without water will motivate humans to kill other humans.

Image result for coronavirus meme
From Patch.com Texas

I’ve seen some beautiful acts so far, like people organizing to help the elderly and healthcare providers. In the era of the Seattle Freeze, some are talking to each other more and saying hi. I’ve also seen the ugly side, people yelling at cashiers for “not doing enough to keep the store shelves stocked” and pushing in front of others to grab large quantities of coveted groceries. I said it in another post, that this is the first time in my life I felt myself verging on orange while walking to the cash register with a 12-pack of toilet paper.

https://i0.wp.com/www.theorganicprepper.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/Coopers-Colors-Awareness-Chart.png?ssl=1

I was asked today if everyone around here is dressing like they’re in Mad Max yet. I had to admit that I’ve been wearing my most outlandish socks to work since we locked our doors to the public. Maybe I’ll break out the motorcycle jacket and spiked choker next week. Here again… humor is helping us navigate this temporary journey through the Straits of Messina. Humor is what’s helping people give us new and exciting strategies to foam up our phalanges.

coronavirus meme

A great many people are struggling with the closure of restaurants, gyms, salons, and the usual gathering places right now. Social distancing– staying six feet away among other things– is hard for those who like close personal contact. But some introverts, who may not frequent such places anyway and don’t like being touched except by their inner circle, are enjoying the break. Yes, there are many other stressors, but you’re less likely to have someone you hardly know reach for your shoulders to massage them as if that somehow equates to “hello.”

Image result for toilet paper vending machine
From 7newscom.au

Some locals are struggling with boredom since entertainment venues are closed, but if you’re into history or genealogy, there is no such thing. You always have a stack of projects on the coffee table, mysteries to solve, projects to research, and four lifetimes isn’t nearly enough to accomplish it all. So having meetings and events cancelled disrupts our routine, yet it can also be precious time to indulge our passions. Or stand in a forest. Or make phone calls to the older people we can’t go see. It’s time we can use for the greater good, to spread knowledge and caring.

Image result for valentines day 2020 mask

When this meme was circulating on Valentine’s Day, we didn’t know that a month later eco-friendly shopping bags would be banned from stores, individually wrapped white plastic forks would reappear, and we’d be giving up church for Lent. The other day I was pondering how dating works right now… amongst those who care about social distancing, anyway. My thought pattern veered this direction:

Swipe right.

“Hi! I can’t see the rest of your face because of that mask, but you have beautiful eyes. Would you like to go… go… out for coffee see a movie go swing dancing grab a beer meet up at the waterfront?”

Boy and girl arrive at waterfront. They maintain a ten-foot distance as they decide how to approach each other, awkwardly shifting weight from one foot to the other. They eventually sit down on either side of a public bench.

“So… what’s new this week?” she asks, realizing how ridiculous the question sounds given the radical shift in societal norms.

“Well,” he says, “I found some dish soap and crackers that’ll last me for a while, so that’s good. I took my dog to the park and not many people were there.”

“Great,” she giggles. “Now I know who to go to when I need some crackers for my soup.”

An uncomfortable silence ensues as she wonders how he’d look with a proper haircut. He’d like to slide closer, but she could be a carrier. She’s also a teacher. She wouldn’t mind being able to look him in the eyes a bit more to gauge his sincerity. But he said something about working in the medical supply field

Obviously mating rituals vary based upon the individual, and SNL has already portrayed what a sappy soap opera looks like with modern precautions. Some may skip the pomp and pageantry of modern dating and simply say, “You got groceries to find for grandma? Let’s do it.” Married people may either be reminded what annoys them about each other so much or discover strengths they didn’t know their partner had. They may find new ways to connect or realize that they don’t interface so well at prolonged close range. (3/22/20: Aish.com has published these tips on making marriage work during this time.)

Relationships during emergencies may either become very complicated or very practical. You find out what people are made of at times like this. You learn if the object of your desire really is the person you want to kick it with during the apocalypse. Will they stand by you as everything else falls apart or are they primarily focused on their own well-being? Do they accept you at your most unkempt and vulnerable? Do they engage in honest communication and mutually problem solve or just freak out? I hope this time serves as a litmus test for those who haven’t gotten hitched yet.

From Diply.com

There will likely be a Christmastime baby boom this year and a rise in the divorce rate is also predicted. We live in a weird paradox where we’re expected to stay close together at home but far apart in public at the same time. Its effect on human relationships is intriguing. I am both perplexed and fascinated by people tending to stay at a reasonable distance while shopping but then clumping up in the checkout line. I don’t like when someone’s breathing on my neck in the checkout line anyway, so– bonus!– feel even more comfortable asking for a little space now. (Yeah, you, Whole Foods guy with the pile of various flavors of plantain chips.)

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From Distractify

This too shall pass. It is absolutely serious and tragic. We should be doing everything we can to protect the vulnerable and society as a whole. This is a brilliant opportunity to extend charity to others and to get things done in general, so don’t waste it. Find new ways to love people and learn things. It’s possible that Someone larger than ourselves has called a time out, a reset, so that we can take stock of what and who is truly important in our lives.

Image result for coronavirus meme
From Mama’s Geeky

Despite the lack of social distancing in this video, this renowned youth choir nails it– don’t panic, we’ve got this! By the grace of God and His mercy, we’ve got this.

DO look for the humor in all things no matter how dark the night. Laugh! I could and might write another post on the importance of prayer at this time and gearing up for more serious emergencies. As someone with food allergies whose groceries are limited to begin with, I know what it’s like to have to hunt for groceries at times, even more so now. A strong faith and a wild sense of humor can really take the edge off, though. You can find joy in the chaos and peace in the storm.

Image result for coronavirus meme

We are laughing in the face of something that’s deadly serious– and that’s healthy. We can work hard to protect ourselves and others, risk our own safety in jobs that serve others, and still laugh. We can avoid cruel jokes about individuals and still guffaw at memes poking fun at the strange things humans do in general. We can still have empathy and marvel over the lemming-like mentalities we can get caught up in. Ultimately, we’re laughing at ourselves.

Vampire cough, people!

It really is times like these…

If you’re robbing a bank and your pants fall down, I think it’s okay to laugh and to let the hostages laugh too, because, come on, life is funny.

Jack Handey

P.S. The captions are supposed to be centered… yet a technical issue is foiling some of the justification and fonts. See, life is funny…


©2020 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

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If you have survived abuse, you’ll likely remember many times that your abuser tried to make you feel unstable, unworthy, crazy, and weak. While nowadays this is commonly referred to as crazymaking, it is also called gaslighting.

The term gaslighting comes from the 1940 British movie of the same name. While the abuser in the movie had a material motive for his behavior, most use gaslighting as a means of maintaining power and control in general.

The movie Gaslight is the American version of Gaslighting that came out in 1944. Viewers have historically been split as to which is the better movie, but both are worth a few hours of your time.

Knowing the tactics abusive people use is critical to helping their targets to safety. As I’ve long said, initiative, intelligence, and insight is threatening to the immoral and insecure. Let’s continue to shine a light on the behaviors of sadistic and narcissistic people and know their head games even better than they do.

Gaslighting (1944) can be watched here.

Gaslight can be seen on YouTube, below, and also rented on YouTube if that link is ever removed.

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©2019 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

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This week I was struck by the power of Death Cab for Cutie’s video for Black Sun. 

We Northwesterners have been enveloped by the sounds of Death Cab for nearly two decades now, and while I don’t agree with some of their politics or lyrics, certain songs reach down deep. They also have a way of translating our local precipitation into wispy, whispering ruminations.

Black Sun has been said to be a commentary on the pain and ugliness of divorce. To me the video reads as one person knocking themselves out to try and please another who hardly notices. And it reminded me of a friend’s recent commentary on the challenges of trying to find the right person. After a few wash, rinse, repeat cycles, to borrow words from another friend, the act of trying again can become more trial and task than a voyage of discovery.

While going about the usual mundane tasks this week a light bulb went on somewhere in the front left compartment of my mind, just beyond the grocery list and reminder to fix some squeaky hinges. I already know this, but this time it stood out like neon lights on stilts against an inky central Washington sky: with the right person, you will be more of yourself, not less. You will not have to compromise who you are.

How many of us have been in relationships in which we had to tone down who we are, what we love, and what we stand for in order to please another? That’s not what a relationship, particularly a marriage, is supposed to be. Marriage should be the one place in which you can be completely naked with another human being without shame, utterly yourself with your whole soul on display. On this sacred ground darkness and light can both be exposed in the safety of the shelter formed by the continual intertwining of two imperfect human beings.

That’s not what the world tells us. It’s not what most relationships in our spheres of influence teach us. Our race, the human race, has come to accept far less than what we were originally designed for. Go back to the garden. Did the first man look at the first woman and say, “you’ll do?” No. He would have been captivated by how different from himself she was and yet how wonderfully she complemented his own character and interests. He would have seen her as a marvelous gift, an enigma begging to be explored, an alien entity whose personality invited him into all its tantalizing twists and turns. I’m sure she was at least as entranced by him.“Who is he?” she thought as her heart stood still in a timeless and ethereal moment.

But here, in this time, the human race has become largely self-absorbed. We go out into the world asking what other people can do for us rather than what we can do for them. Many suffer from the delusion that an initial sexual attraction is spark enough to sustain a potentially lifetime-long relationship. There has to be a multidimensional framework to hold that up. We’ve lost track of what constitutes successful relationships– common values, common goals, mutual interests, a commitment to becoming more like our Creator, Love Himself.

So we go on the prowl and find that it’s so easy to join the other contenders are splashing around in the shallow end of the dating pool. “No expectations!” they say. “Let’s just have fun and see what happens!” But there’s a tug at your heart as you wade around in the moral morass. You find yourself longer for something more. Something richer. Something deeper. It’s passionate. It’s primal. It’s like an unseen, magnetic force is drawing you to the deep end to experience something better than you’ve ever had planned. The garden is calling.

Unfortunately, there are those who will follow you to the deep end without having the actual fortitude to sustain a relationship at that level. Eventually they will panic and scramble back to the shallow end or drown. This can also happen when you’re a deep person hanging out in the shallow end. If both of you aren’t made of the same stuff, one or both ends of your union will start to sink. And sometimes it takes both people down. You find yourself alone, disillusioned, screaming at the universe, asking why you’ve been abandoned when you tried so hard and gave so much. Often the other person walks on like you weren’t even there in the first place.

So you try. And try again. And it seems like you keep finding the same people, or the same problems, or the same conditions. The quest for that one person can become an exercise in pain, an unnecessary drudgery, even torture. Like the man in this video, you might be practically killing yourself just to get one glance from the object of your affections. So you pull back. You start stuffing your hopes and dreams down into some forlorn hole in your metaphorical right pant leg. You start trying to be someone you’re not to get attention and please others. You begin to lose yourself. Internally it’s like you see yourself standing at 50,000 feet and are watching your soul tear lose from your body only to plunge down below the clouds.

The right person won’t make you feel this way. The right person isn’t going to walk past like you’re a ghost despite your best efforts. You shouldn’t have to tone down your personality, shave off parts of your intellect, and pretend to like things you detest to get the kind of relationship you want. The right man or woman will look upon you, warts and all, and love who you are and what you stand for. Being with them will encourage your strengths and build your uniqueness rather than tear that down. Your differences will complement one another and you will not lose the freedom to pursue your hopes and dreams. This is someone who will help you get there. This is someone with whom you will accomplish far more than you ever could have on your own. You will be more of who God intended you to be, not less. 

Do you hear what I’m saying? If you’re an intelligent person, and your potential mate is threatened by that, should they be your potential mate? If you’re a fun-loving person who could care less what other people think of your flamboyant interests and adventures, why join forces with someone who belittles some of your friends or activities? If you feel that you should raise children a certain way and want them to have particular ethics, why risk their futures by connecting with someone who’s not standing on the same moral ground? Yes, you’re going to have some hobbies she doesn’t, and relationships are work. You’re never going to agree on everything. There will be times you have to agree to disagree. But don’t compromise on the foundation.

As the singles among us go out there and try and try again, my advice to them is to know who you are and what you want, and walk away if you have to compromise your core characteristics or values. But be open to surprises. Sometimes the right person defies the picture you had in your head and turns out to be something even better. Sometimes a friend becomes something more. Sometimes the best answers are hiding in plain sight. Most of all, remember who your Creator made you to be and know that those passions and missions buried in the deepest part of your soul are from Him. That’s no accident, and He’s likely put someone else on the same trajectory who burns with a similar fire.

Whatever your approach to the dating game, you probably already know that there are hordes of self-absorbed people out there who will gladly treat you as a commodity no matter how good you are to them. To much of this world, you’re disposable. They’ll use you, beat you up, put your heart through a blender, and drive off in a cloud of dust without a second thought. But the more you come to realize that you were created as a unique individual with a specific purpose, the more you will gravitate towards like souls. The truer you are to yourself, the more courageously you’ll move out into the deep end of the human pool. You will learn to swim and not sink.

When you go out into the masses armed with the truth about who you are, the more likely it is that someday soon you’ll feel an electrifying glimmer of recognition– is it him? Could that be her? And if, in the course of the exploratory exercise of friendship, you discover that the real you is growing and thriving, and being continually invited out into the open, perhaps you have finally found that rare treasure the Creator has been preparing for you for years. During all that time you felt dejected and alone, He was at work causing your paths to meet and preparing that ancient memory to stir.

And the man or woman who drives away in the black car after smashing your heart to pieces will become little more than an afterthought fading into a distant past life.

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And I say also this. I do not think the forest would be so bright, nor the water so warm, nor love so sweet, if there were no danger in the lakes. –C.S. Lewis, Out of the Silent Planet

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©2015 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

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Texting

Young ladies (including those in my life), listen up. It’s time for some straight talk about guys who consider texting a primary form of communication or an appropriate way to get to know you.

As evidenced in previous blog posts on grammar and communication skills, I feel that texting is the devolution of the English language. Yes, I text; it can be a quick way to check in with a loved one or tell a friend about something funny when they can’t talk on the phone. But I decided a while back that I am done trying to have lengthy conversations by text because they are a convenient excuse not to actually TALK to someone. (more…)

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http://www.5lovelanguages.com/

Recently I was asked which books about relationships actually help people. Gary Chapman’s The Five Love Languages is in my top 10, with the Manufacturer’s Handbook (aka the Bible) in the top slot.

Chapman first published this book 20 years ago and it’s timeless. As a marriage counselor he found that there are five primary ways in which people express and interpret love. According to his website, he also learned that people are usually attracted to someone with a different “love language.” (more…)

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Eight years ago Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccilo published an obscenity-riddled divining rod to help women sniff out the losers in their lives. He’s Just Not That Into You is an easy read penned by a writer and a consultant for HBO’s Sex and the City. I can’t stand the show, by the way. It was an garishly self-centered jaunt through the lives of materialistic, hedonistic urbanities that legitimized whoring around.

The book, however, was groundbreaking in the sense that it provided straight talk by a straight male about relationships. Most of the relationships discussed are sexual in nature, so this book is not for those who refuse to acknowledge that such issues exist in the church as well as the outside world. Unfortunately Christian books and the church often just tell people how to live and don’t provide support when singles live outside the lines. They do little to bring them back into the fold or recognize the issues that motivate singles to compromise their values. (more…)

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Venus The Dark Side

In 2008, journalist and author Roy Sheppard and Mary Cleary, founder of the Amen network that helps male domestic violence victims, released a book on female predators that turned heads. Venus: The Dark Side shines light on the inner workings and tactics of, as Sheppard and Cleary put it, queens of manipulation and deceit. Having dealt with such women both in the workplace and on my own time, I was pleased to know that someone has finally written a book on female sociopaths and their cousins. I read it over a year ago and it’s been on my to-blog list ever since.

To quote from their introduction, the type of woman they are analyzing “…is prepared to hurt innocent men, women, and even children to get her own way. This ruthlessness takes the form of physical, emotional, psychological, sexual, or financial abuse… Many are nothing short of domestic terrorists: (more…)

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