It happened seven years after Christopher died and two years after my marriage died. I know I needed time to recover from both deaths. I thought, How can I date someone, as a bereaved parent? Well, I met the right person, who will listen to me talk. He just gets sad when I do. A moment of victory: walking through a shop that specialized in Scottish stuff and I heard Amazing Grace. Not only did I not cry, I sang along. And poor Mark had his eye on me, trying to figure out how to get me the heck out of there. He was pleased when he saw I wasn't upset. Small victories. Even with an arsenal of tools and the convenience of professional distance, I have had to terminate psychotherapy with certain narcissists who sought only to exploit the relationship, and who found the rewards of the narcissistic high to be more compelling than the prospect of change. Christina shared her distress over leaving her fragile bully after twelve years of hard work: I've made such massive improvements with him--someone else is going to get all the sweet benefits. Even while struggling to separate, those in relationships with narcissists get used to the question, Why don't you just leave? This question is problematic for a number of reasons, including the fact that it does not respect the way change works. But the question can also be unhelpful because it assumes that the relationship is a purely interpersonal one--leave the person and it's over. Anyone who knows the anguished thoughts, second-guessing, and internal dialogue that rises out of a breakup--or who has dated the same person over and over in different bodies--knows that it's not always over when it's over. In reality, the dance takes up residence inside us as much as it does between us. Object relations theorists propose that every external relationship has a counterpart inside of us. We talk to the internal stand-ins for real people in our private ruminations. To complicate matters, those internal stands-in are not always fair representations of the real people in our lives.

I use this story to help meet those stuck in anger where they are. Understanding that people associate anger with toughness is important in conflict situations. In my experience, the symbol of the samurai is universally respected, so drawing on stories of samurai warriors is a fast path to reaching people who are struggling to maintain control. The samurai are respected because of their incredible skills and ability to defend themselves. There is no denying that they have earned the respect of others who want to be looked at similarly. I've watched countless people respond really well to hearing this and similar stories. Box Head A teacher was asked by his student in class what the ego is like. The teacher looked around the room and spotted a cardboard box filled with papers and old magazines. He picked the box up, dumped its contents onto the floor, then turned the box upside down over his head. Small achievements. They all count. I raised a glass to the happy couple, hoping that even though it was sparkling fruit juice and not real champagne, my wishes for only good things in their lives together would come true. I'll Drink to That: It's the same sentiment I expressed at Lauren's two memorials. But after the guest articles and leftover programmes had been delivered to us in boxes and the flowers had long lost their petals, the thankfulness, on many fronts, remained. However, there are few things for which I am more grateful than the fact that going into this horrible tragedy, I had already logged several years of sobriety. I was going to need all the clarity I could muster just to survive losing Lauren, never mind achieve my goal of getting back on the radio and putting on a happy face (or, more importantly, voice). I remember when I started to use alcohol as a painkiller instead of simply a social lubricant, as normal people do. At twenty-two, when women my age went out at night to meet each other (and perhaps Mr.

We have already discussed ways of shifting specific dance steps, and this can often shift the dance--internally and externally--in productive ways. Sometimes the partner's moves dominate, and efforts to change it up become wasted energy. Exiting the dance may or may not require leaving the relationship. How do we leave behind our mastered steps, familiar patterns, enticing reinforcers, and--when necessary--people we truly love? Like an addiction, a destructive dance with narcissism stands in as a substitute for real frustrations as well as real satisfactions. Let's look at how to build resilience to the rote steps of the dance. Treat Yourself with Compassion A common obstacle to change is that, for many of us, our recognizing that something is not working too easily translates to feelings of shame and judgments of ourselves as a failure. We may utter laments such as, Why was I so stupid? How could I have let that happen? He hollered, I know where I'm going! as he walked right into the wall. The students laughed. He did it again. They laughed with a little less intensity. The teacher shouted it once more and pretended to walk into the wall a third time. This time, there were only courtesy laughs from a couple of students. One student, trying to get a laugh of his own from the group, said, It's not funny anymore. The students laughed. The teacher took the box off his head and said, That's what the ego is like: It boxes in your vision, convinces you that you know more than you do, and makes you self-centered in a way that quickly gets tiring to others.

Right), I was home alone. I'd had my flings, but basically, I had no close friends of either gender. And I felt isolated and alone. I dreaded going home to the emptiness of my modern two-bedroom apartment. It was situated above a downtown subway stop and shopping mall, and I recognized keenly the irony of being so close to throngs of people but feeling such solitude. With no prospects for a date on the Friday horizon (despite taking the unusual and expensive and somewhat humiliating step of signing up with a matchmaking service), my solution would be to climb into bed in the midafternoon with a gin martini in a big brandy snifter and sip myself to sleep. Drinking alone: How could that possibly turn into a problem? Besides, I thought I was smarter than that. I would only drink my evenings away until I found someone with whom to share my life and its many little triumphs and frustrations. I would be just fine, thank you. Or we might shutter at the thought of having any responsibility at all. These feelings are not only unkind; We may decide that it's better to keep at it than to admit failure. Ironically, feelings of shame and judgments of failure often have a source in our own narcissism. They come with the assumption that we should be self-made people, invulnerable to the powerful relationships in our lives, unmoved by the rewards that keep vicious circles in motion. These feelings may also reflect a collective impatience about the learning process. Our just do it society neglects the reality that change happens over several repetitions and with contemplation and planning. When violence is involved, leaving the relationship abruptly may be dangerous. According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, domestic violence victims leave an average of seven times before they stay away for good. James Prochaska knew intimately how difficult change could be.

The student who had asked the question understood. They all understood. And all who were present strove from that day onward to never be a box head again. When you understand how this story applies to your own life, it makes you all the more credible as you share it with others. The box head limits us; the recognition of its limits frees us. Peace Takes Practice Once there were two aliens who came to Earth. Their spaceships landed at the same time and in the same way, but in two different houses. Both aliens landed in English-speaking homes where the people were willing to teach them the language. Nine years my senior, he was also my boss at an all-news radio station, where I spent four years co-hosting mornings with four different partners. It was a revolving door of work husbands, all of whom felt vastly superior to the young woman sitting across from--and often carrying the show for--them. Rob tells me he was my biggest fan from his first day at the Toronto flagship station of the CKO network, where he'd worked his way up the corporate ladder to a position in management, a job he'd come to despise. A producer and creator at heart, he found himself trapped in the workplace drudgery of pencil pushing, number crunching and dealing with inflexible unions and disgruntled employees. Although it began quickly and looked for all the world like something out of a Nora Ephron-penned movie, our courtship was fraught with complications and drama. I'd invited Rob out to dinner with me one night when I had been offered a free meal in return for doing a restaurant's commercials. We followed dinner with the Second City Toronto improv show Not Based on Anything by Stephen King, and it was late that evening that two amazing things happened: first, I was up past ten o'clock on a school night; Not a shock, exactly, but something that would look like a tiny lightning bolt, if I were to illustrate it. It's not an exaggeration to say that the sparks had begun to fly and neither of us wanted the night to end. As for that little lightning bolt, I've experienced that shot of electricity only four times in my life: that night with Rob, the time I heard the man who would become my college professor talk about Loyalist's radio broadcasting program, the moment Lauren was born, and the day I first heard my radio mentor Valerie Geller speak.