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She is made to endure illogical cruelty. Surprise attacks come out of nowhere and intimidation is the norm. Whenever she tries to express herself she is provoked, humiliated, and berated. He tells her over and over that she is ugly, stupid, and crazy. Wanting no boundaries between them, she loses her right to privacy. Her cell phone, computer, email, social networking sites, and journal must all be accessible to him. He feels entitled to eavesdrop on her private calls. All the details of her work and social life are expected to be forthcoming upon his demand. I became a Buddhist because I hated my husband. That's not something you hear every day, but Buddhist nun and author of When Things Fall Apart Pema Chodron is only kind of kidding. After her divorce, she went into a negativity spiral where she entertained revenge fantasies because of her husband's affair. Eventually, she came across the writings of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, a meditation master who founded Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado. In reading his work, she realized that the relationship had become like a malignant cell--instead of dying off, her anger and blame were causing the negativity of the breakup to spread. Once Chodron allowed herself to become more like a river than a rock, she was able to forgive her husband and move forward. She now refers to her ex-husband as one of her greatest teachers. If you want the negativity between yourself and another person to dissipate, you have to hope that you both heal. You don't have to tell them directly, but send the energy of well-wishing out into the air. This is when you feel most free and at peace--because you're truly able to let go. It was the slowing down and finding abundant satisfaction in the process I found elusive. The biggest problem was that much of the advice in the simplifying articles didn't apply to me or my lifestyle.

Reading them left me increasingly frustrated and, occasionally, furious. If I'd had the ability to spend even a fraction of the amount of time those authors seemed to spend on themselves, I wouldn't have felt overwhelmed in the first place. Who would be caring for my children, homeschooling, cleaning my house, and deal-shopping in the meantime if I was busy taking bubble baths, lighting candles, drinking copious amounts of tea, and experiencing that elusive solitude so conducive to creativity? How in the world did the authors have so much time to indulge on themselves? I was soon enlightened, discovering Ban Breathnach was the mother of one and St. James was childless. Where was the tome on simplifying life for women with large families? I decided I would write it and, in the process, help myself. And whenever those times happen that you're not feeling so special, just remember a few things. The first thing is to get back in touch with the power that created you. Thank it for guiding you perfectly in every part of your life. The next thing is to forget more of yourself and think more of how you and your desires and abilities can help others. People are all that matter. Think about it. You do the things you do for love, adulation, recognition or financial gain. And where do you think all those things come from? And the more you serve people, the greater will be your rewards. A very rich man once said, Your rewards in life are in direct proportion to the amount of service you give to others. She is falsely accused of impropriety. He blames her for things that are not her fault and then makes her grovel for forgiveness.

He uses emotional and physical withdrawal to punish her. The partner must undulate with the narcissist's unreasonable, ever-changing demands in order to stay in his good graces. She must constantly indulge him, stroke him, and revolve her world around him. Ever fearful of losing the supply she gives him, he repeatedly tests her devotion. She must constantly prove her love. In the beginning of the relationship, the partner asserts herself as an individual. She will try to do it again from time to time after the campaign of abuse has begun, but will eventually stop because it only makes things worse for her. After repeatedly being subject to the narcissist's campaign of abuse and devaluation, she finally submits to the belief he conditioned her to adopt--that his needs and preferences are far more important than her own. Negativity is a natural part of life. We tease and provoke, express vulnerability, connect over shared values and fears. It's hard to find a comedy show that isn't based on negative observations. But there is a line between negativity that helps us navigate life and negativity that puts more pain out into the world. You might talk about the problems someone's child is having with addiction because you are scared that it will happen to your family and hoping to avoid it. But you also might gossip about the same issue to judge the family and feel better about your own. Ellen DeGeneres sees the line clearly--in an interview with Parade magazine she said that she doesn't think it's funny to make fun of people. The world is filled with negativity. I want people to watch me and think, `I feel good, and I'm going to make somebody else feel good today. This is the spirit in which monks have fun--we are playful and laugh easily. I turned to readers of two of my favorite magazines at the time, Home Education and Big Happy Family, running ads to request input from women who had four or more children. I planned the article's outline, devising a questionnaire that addressed all the big questions: how to organize a home filled with children, keep up with the laundry, live on a budget, handle sibling rivalry, and--the most crucial question of all--how to find time for the solitude and contemplation those other articles recommended.

I filled a file folder of information as letters from women all over the United States began to trickle in. It was a novel idea: a guide to living the simple life for mothers of many. My tipping point came with the sixth baby, but surely there were mothers with slightly smaller or even larger families who also struggled to find time for themselves. There were. I heard from dozens of them. The dilemma, outside of selling a article with such a limited audience to a publisher, was that while I garnered great ideas for sorting laundry and planning menus for larger families, I wasn't getting the answers I needed regarding time management or solitude. Make sure to take time for yourself after you drop the kids off at school, was useless advice for a homeschooling mom. Even my own mother, with ten children, couldn't relate to the lack of solitude a homeschooling mother faced. You want more wealth and happiness? Give more service to others. You want more fame and recognition? Give more of yourself to the world. Use your life to change people's lives, and they will shower you with more fame, fortune, wealth, opportunity and happiness than you ever dreamed possible. That's what can happen when you give to the world, the miracle called You. LET'S OPEN YOUR OWNER'S MANUAL All I have seen teaches me to trust the Creator for all I have not seen. There has never, nor will there ever be, anyone just like you. Your voice, looks and personality are all uniquely yours. Though she continues having her own needs and preferences, as a willing subordinate to the narcissist she voluntarily curbs them. Capitalizing on the delusion he has created in her, the narcissist systematically chips away at her self-esteem.

He reinforces over and over how defective, incapable and worthless she is. He holds her responsible for everything that goes wrong in his life. And he convinces her that she is to blame for the unhappiness she feels and all the problems the two of them are having. Beaten so far down from his unrelenting castigation, she internalizes all the blame and claims every insult. Mesmerized by the Svengali-like influence the narcissist has over her, she makes him her entire world. She puts him on a pedestal, aggrandizes, adores and worships him. Gaslighted by him through constant reinforcement that her instincts and memories are wrong, she questions her own judgment. She eventually loses the ability to think for herself and must depend on the narcissist to tell her who she is. When new monks arrived, they often took themselves too seriously (I know I did), and the senior monks would have a twinkle in their eyes when they said, Steady now, don't waste all your energy on your first day. Whenever the priest brought out the most special sacred food--which was sweeter and tastier than the simple food we ordinarily ate--the younger monks would joke-wrestle to get to it first. And if someone fell asleep and snored during meditation, we would all glance at one another, not even trying to hide our distraction. We needn't reduce our thoughts and words to 100 percent sunshine and positivity. But we should challenge ourselves to dig to the root of negativity, to understand its origins in ourselves and those around us, and to be mindful and deliberate in how we manage the energy it absorbs. We begin to let go through recognition and forgiveness. We spot, stop, and swap--observe, reflect, and develop new behaviors to replace the negativity in our lives, always striving toward self-discipline and bliss. When you stop feeling so curious about others' misfortunes and instead take pleasure in their successes, you're healing. The less time you fixate on everyone else, the more time you have to focus on yourself. Negativity, as we've discussed, often arises from fear. Can't wait to read your article and get ideas, was the most common response to the question of how the respondents found time for themselves. It wasn't long before I abandoned the article project altogether.