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Sherry Gaba is a licensed Psychotherapist and Certified Recovery and Transformation Coach who’s helped hundreds, if not thousands, of people cope with lifelong addictions, including those addicted to alcohol, drugs, shopping, gambling, eating, sex, love, co-dependency, as well as those struggling with depression, anxiety, trauma, single...

Sherry Gaba is a licensed Psychotherapist and Certified Recovery and Transformation Coach who’s helped hundreds, if not thousands, of people cope with lifelong addictions, including those addicted to alcohol, drugs, shopping, gambling, eating, sex, love, co-dependency, as well as those struggling with depression, anxiety, trauma, single parenting, and divorce.

She has shared her expert addiction advice on Dr. Drew Pinsky’s Celebrity Rehab show on VH1 and later on the spin-off, VH1’s Sober House, as well as Celebrity Rehab’s Sex Addiction, CNN, Inside Edition, and numerous other stations and programs.

With over twenty years of experience as a clinician, Sherry has  worked at some of the highest profile rehab and treatment centers in the country…


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The Impact Of Betrayal Trauma Caused By A Narcissist

The Impact Of Betrayal Trauma Caused By A Narcissist

People in relationships come to trust and believe in the other person in the relationship. Narcissists use this trust in a destructive way when they feel that the partner is doing anything that may potentially be harmful to them. However, given that the narcissist sees everything from a very distorted lens, even helpful behavior from the partner can trigger the narcissist to betray the partner in many different ways.

The Cycle Continues
Often adults who are narcissists had a very dysfunctional relationship with their own loved ones. This is often a parent caregiver, typically a mother, who was not there to support the child and who caused damage and harm in that mother-child relationship. The child may experience his or her betrayal trauma in the dysfunctional relationship. Over time, the child may decide that the best way to protect themselves is to leave immediately, attack, distance themselves, or stay emotionally unavailable.

The new adult partner does not realize this dynamic is in play. Instead, they often see a confident, loving, and almost doting partner, at least in the first stages of the relationship. Then, slowly, the exploitive nature of the narcissist begins to come to the surface, often through controlling, verbally, mentally, and emotionally abusive behaviors. In some cases, physical abuse may also be present.

The Power of Intermittent Reinforcement 
To avoid the partner leaving, the narcissist often uses a process known as intermittent reinforcement. It is a process that uses random, unpredictable rewards and positive experiences to motivate people to stay through negative experiences. A prime example of the power of intermittent rewards is gambling, particularly for those with gambling addictions. Even though gamblers only win randomly and infrequently, the positive feelings associated with that win keep them at the tables against all odds.

The same is true for many people in relationships with narcissists. Although there is more negative than positive, when the positives occur, they draw the partner back into the relationship. Unfortunately, this sets up the risk of another betrayal trauma as the narcissist reverts to ghosting, abuse, or a combination of damaging behaviors. In this way, the narcissist becomes both the source of the pain (emotional or other) and the solution (brief moments of intense connection).

Typical Signs of Trauma Bonding and Betrayal Trauma
The following signs are indicators of trauma bonding in the relationship or betrayal trauma after the relationship:

• A sense of connection exists – you continue to feel a strong connection to the narcissist despite the overwhelming negativity, control, and abuse.

• Need their validation – not only is there a sense of wanting to connect, but you may also want their approval or that brief period of time when you have hope there has been a real change.

• Accepting the unacceptable – you may find you accept the bad behavior and even minimize it or attempt to rationalize why it occurred, often blaming yourself for their issues.

• You feel sorry for them – the narcissist often creates a sense of being the victim and playing upon your sympathy and empathy.

• Defending the indefensible – you defend his or her behaviors to friends and family, even after they have betrayed and emotionally wounded you over and over again.

Most people find that betrayal trauma is made worse by accepting the narcissist back after being discarded. Often the narcissist comes back with a grand gesture, including stating he or she will go to counseling, only to set you up for another betrayal when they revert to their typical bad behavior.

Tips For Healing  
It is essential to recognize that betrayal trauma is likely to occur in a relationship with a narcissist. They create a trauma bond and make themselves vital to your life, and then they leave.

To begin healing from betrayal trauma, it is important to:

• Seek therapy – a trained therapist can help you to process the betrayal and reduce the impact of trauma on your life. As a licensed psychotherapist, I help clients through somatic experiencing, poly vagal exercises, tapping and other trauma modalities to heal the attachment trauma that occurs after a narcissistic relationship.

• Talk about the truth – it is essential to talk about your reality and experiences in the relationship in an honest way. Do not gloss over, rationalize, or make excuses for their bad behavior.

• Set goals – setting personal goals and working to be the best you is one of the most effective ways to work through trauma.

• Joining a support group such as my online group coaching program Wake Up Recovery.  There is nothing more powerful that not feeling alone after a toxic relationship.

Betrayal can damage your trust in others. Working through the thoughts and emotions around betrayal by a narcissist helps you to process these issues and move forward in your life.

Resources Reviewed 
 

Top Reasons Narcissists Don’t Allow Closure

Top Reasons Narcissists Don’t Allow Closure - Sherry Gaba LSCW

Most people have had at least one bad relationship. Often these toxic relationships end badly, with one person storming off and never being heard from or seen again by the other. In fact, in many of these types of difficult relationships, neither person wants to see the other.

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Is The Law Of Attraction In Play For An Addict?

 Is The Law Of Attraction In Play For An Addict?

It is common to hear addicts talk about themselves as if they were different than other people. They have often gone through so much and felt dehumanized so many times that seeing things work for other people is like watching a foreign film, they can’t understand the message and they don’t get the plot.

In my book “The Law of Sobriety”, I discuss how important it is for addicts to see themselves as any other person. Learning how to tap into the Law of Attraction and using the energy provided to us by the Universe can be used for healing addictions and developing a positive message to send forth to the world around us.

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Understanding The Love Avoidant And The Narcissist: Similarities And Differences

Understanding The Love Avoidant And The Narcissist: Similarities And Differences

The terms love avoidant and narcissist are often used interchangeably, but these two types of individuals are not always the same. They do have similarities, but there are also differences that have an impact on the relationship. As a general statement, all narcissists are love avoidant, but people can be love avoidant and not be narcissists.

This can be confusing. Taking a closer look at each type of person will clarify the signs to watch for in any relationship. Understanding if the new partner is a love avoidant or a narcissist will help you determine if it is time to end the relationship or consider working with a therapist to restructure the relationship and stay together.

The Common Background Issues 
Everyone has a different background, particularly their relationship with their earliest caregivers. Caregivers are typically biological parents, but for some children, this could be grandparents, legal guardians, or adoptive parents.

Both the narcissist and the love avoidant usually have a history of abandonment by caregivers. This can be abandonment that is emotional, where the caregivers are physically present but neglect to care for the child’s emotional wellbeing. These parents may fawn over the child one minute, only to ignore the child the next. The child learns early in life that there is no one to rely on for this emotional support, so they turn inwards. The child sees others as untrustworthy and looks to his or herself for love and a sense of who they are in the world.

As this child grows, he or she learns that others are a source of emotional pain. To protect themselves, these children and adults put up walls to seal out the risk of emotional pain. They avoid emotional connections and remain distant and aloof in social interactions and in intimate relationships.

Signs of Narcissists and Love Avoidants
The following are signs of love avoidance and narcissism. Look for patterns and consistent behavior and not just one particular behavior that can include:
•  A lack of true intimacy on an emotional level
•  Putting more emphasis on things rather than people
•  Showing a lack of emotional range
•  Signs of perfectionism
•   Lacking close friends or group of friends

At the same time, there are also differences between the two. Some of these include:
•  The love avoidant is distant to protect self, the narcissist sees him or herself as superior to others and above having a relationship with an inferior person
•  The love avoidant attempts to isolate from others, the narcissist feels a sense of entitlement to control others
•  The love avoidant may be dismissive of others to keep them away, the narcissist is dismissive of others because they are not his or her equals
•  The love avoidant moves away from relationships, the narcissist rushes the partner into relationships using love bombing and other techniques
•  Love avoidants have low self-esteem and typically have some level of difficulty in social situations, the narcissist appears highly self-confident and seeks out ways to highlight their superiority in social settings. In reality, both struggle with self-esteem issues.
•  The love avoidant blames self for all things, the narcissist blames everyone else for things, even those they are fully responsible for creating.
•   Love avoidants

Tips for Relationships with Love Avoidants and Narcissists 
In general, both narcissists and love avoidants can make changes with therapy and support. However, as with most change, they must want to do the work to make the change. Both of these individuals can have very different personalities in public and in private, and they may see the positive public side as an accurate representation of their reality. They often dismiss the distress of the partner, and it is not uncommon for the love avoidant to have some of the traits and behaviors of the narcissist, particularly in the relationship.

If you are in a relationship with a narcissist or a love avoidant, it is essential to:
•   Seek therapeutic support or a support group such as Wake Up Recovery for healing love addiction and toxic relationships  for yourself to avoid emotional pain and damage
•    Set boundaries to protect your wellbeing and establish the ground rules for the relationship if it is to continue
•   Stop making excuses and justifying the behavior of the partner
•   Learn how to communicate your needs in the relationship
•   Develop healthy self-care routines

It will also be critical to make a decision as to the changes you need to see to continue working on the relationship. Many people find that ending the relationship is an essential part of their own wellbeing if the narcissist or love avoidant is unwilling or unable to change.

Websites reviewed:

Taking Responsibility for Recovery

Taking Responsibility for Recovery - Sherry Gaba LSCW

One of the common thoughts people have about the Law of Attraction in recovery is that it is a passive type of process. They would like to believe that it will involve just reading a few books or blogs and thinking good thoughts to get their life back on track and to avoid addictive behaviors in the future.

As I have outlined and stressed in my book, “The Law of Sobriety,” this couldn’t be further from the truth. It takes emotional energy, deep and honest examination of our values as well as the self-determination to make the best decisions for yourself that are needed moving forward. I dedicate a whole chapter in the book to “Living a Life of Right Action” which brings the focus and the responsibility of our sobriety right back to ourselves.

Think as You Want It to Be

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The Reality Of Feeling Devalued In A Relationship With A Narcissist

The Reality Of Feeling Devalued In A Relationship With A Narcissist

One of the key characteristics of narcissism is a sense of grandiosity or a sense of being superior to others. In addition to just thinking they are better than everyone, including their partners, the narcissist constructs a fantasy world where they are always on center stage, regardless of what is happening around them.

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How To Spot The Love Avoidant Person

How To Spot The Love Avoidant Person -  Sherry Gaba, LCSW

These anxious attachment people gravitate to love avoidant people. The love avoidant person is often very similar to the distant, uncarHow To Spot The Love Avoidant Personing, neglectful, or even absent parent of the anxious attachment style partner. It is, however, a familiar style, and love avoidant people often mask their true behaviors in the early parts of a romantic relationship. Keep in mind, the love avoidant style still needs human contact and relationships. Still, they are uncomfortable when confronted with this. In other words, they want to be close but dislike the thought of being close or dependent on another. To reinforce this, they distance themselves both emotionally and physically.

A love avoidant individual may be charming, happy, and spend time with you, even initiating this time spent together. Unavailable partners know they must demonstrate some level of intimacy at the beginning of the relationship. At the same time, the needs of the anxious and avoidant attachment types are opposites, and there is little chance of these types of relationships being healthy. Instead, avoidant and anxious attachment style partners create a toxic relationship with a high risk of emotional damage.

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Creating And Sticking To Intentions To End A Toxic Relationship In The New Year

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A toxic relationship is destructive on so many levels. Not only is there the loss of self and self-worth, but there is also the loss of enjoyment in life, the ability to be with a loving, positive partner, and the loss of your own sense of joy and purpose,  

This New Year, creating the intention to walk away from a toxic relationship is the best possible gift to give yourself. Like any type of change it is not always easy. There will be times when you may be tempted to give the partner another chance, to make those old excuses, or finding yourself being pulled back into the relationship throughout their manipulation and lies.

Creating a way to stick to your intentions to get out of the unhealthy relationship allows you to develop a plan to address these feelings as they arise. Building on your strengths and learning how to thrive in your own independence starts with accepting help and support from others.  This  is the best way to make the changes you want to see in your life.

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Post Traumatic Growth And Resiliency After Toxic Relationships

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A toxic relationship is highly destructive. It creates a loss of sense of self through verbal and emotional abuse that tears down the person at a very basic level. Toxic relationships are often hard to see for the individual, as the toxicity or the negativity and abuse builds slowly. Even when there is no physical abuse, the constant degrading comments, the control over every aspect of your life, the gaslighting and blame associated with these types of relationships causes damage that is hard to see but highly devastating to experience.

The good news is that people can leave toxic relationships. Taking the time to work with a therapist or a counselor or joining a supportive community like my Inner Circle helps to identify the key signs of a toxic relationship and to rebuild your sense of self-worth, self-compassion, and self-love.
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Saving The Holidays From A Narcissist

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The holidays are a special time of year for most people. They are a time of friendship, of giving, of sharing, and of being around the people you love and those who love you. Unfortunately, what makes the holidays so special for most people makes them intolerable for a narcissist.

The narcissist must be the center of attention. In the holiday season, there are a lot of things to attend to, and trying to become better than everyone else at the family gathering, the concert, the staff party, or any other event can be impossible. Rather than trying to accept this, the narcissist moves to devalue and destroy the happiness of those they are around, showing their complete inability to express empathy and to simply enjoy the fact those around them are having fun.

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How To Avoid Being Drawn Into A Toxic Relationship

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There are many different types of relationships, some of which are positive and healthy, and some which are toxic and unhealthy. Unfortunately, it is not always easy or even evident which type of relationship you are getting into until there are significant telltale signs.

The term toxic relationship is used to describe a relationship where the couple is destructive towards each other rather than constructive and supportive. The destruction or toxicity is typically coming from one person, but it is possible for both people to become competitive and unsupportive of each other. In these cases, one person initiated the toxic behavior, and the other person responded in kind. In extreme cases, the toxicity can include physical abuse, but it is emotionally damaging even at best for the partner.

A toxic person or partner does not start that way. These people are manipulative, and they recognize that putting on a mask and being a positive, supportive person is important. However, even with their best attempts at covering up the toxicity, there are often subtle signs of potential problems.
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Signs You Are Only Getting Breadcrumbs In Your Relationship

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New terms are becoming popular for many of the bad, destructive, and even toxic relationship behaviors that help people label what they are experiencing. Over the last few years, people have become familiar with gaslighting and ghosting. To add to that, the term breadcrumbing has become mainstream, adding to the ability to easily describe the difficulties you are experiencing in your dating relationships.

What is Breadcrumbing?

Breadcrumbing is the act of dropping little bits of attention through social media platforms or technology to keep the other person interested in the potential of the relationship. Accepting breadcrumbs means that you are settling for these small and virtual signals of the potential for the relationship.

Most people that engage in breadcrumbing are those who have a significant fear of being on their own or alone. To hedge their bets of not having someone to be in a relationship with, they focus on keeping multiple potential partners available. In some ways, they are also testing the waters with numbers of potential dates or relationships without committing to any one person. It is highly manipulative, even if the person doing it may not think they are doing anything harmful.

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Ambivalence, Relationships and Love Addiction

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We want love, but we are afraid of it. We seek out a relationship and then sabotage it the first chance we get. We want space and when we get it we are lonely. We can’t live without a relationship and we can’t live with it. What is going on here? It is simple. We are ambivalent.

Ambivalence is the number one problem in relationships today. We are no longer bound by a social order that dictates we marry and have children. We are no longer bound by a division of labor where the man has his duties [bread winner] and we have ours [domestic bliss]. We have choices and now we are confused.

I sometimes think that this is the lost generation and that in many respects my generation had it easy. I was told to stroke a man’s ego. I was told to let him make all the decisions. I was told that I should have children. Unfortunately, I was not meant to be a housewife and mother. I was born to write which is what I am doing now. So everyone around me suffered, especially my children, as I tried to find myself. I have thus concluded that even if this generation is confused and unhappy, so was mine.

I recently wrote an article about knowing yourself and it took me a long time to discover my true identify. So my heart goes out to young people today who have so many choices they don’t know what to choose. The media tells they can have it all and they believe this. So they run themselves ragged trying to take all that life has to offer. Then they reach middle age and are unhappy with life and the choices they made. They dream about starting over again and they can’t. They take control the situation, which has always served them in the past, and try to fix everything right now.

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The Difference Between Gaslighting And Healthy Disagreements

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It is common to have a disagreement with a partner in a relationship. In many cases, the source of the conflict or the disagreement is a difference in perception or a different memory or recollection of an event or conversation.

This is understandable as we see all experiences through the lens of past experiences. This means that two people can see, hear, or have the same event occur but walk away with a very different memory. Both people are absolutely convinced their experience is authentic, and for them, it really is authentic and accurate.

Gaslighting is a different situation. It involves the intentional manipulation of the other person to gain or maintain control of the situation. It is the creation of a false narrative to attempt to make one person look good, and the other person look bad. It is a technique used by narcissists to keep the other person uncertain, confused, and questioning their own perception and experiences. This is a form of emotional abuse, and it is both effective as well as highly destructive.

Understanding the difference between a healthy disagreement and gaslighting is not always easy, but it is possible. Often, working with a therapist or counselor is the first step in detecting an emotionally abusive or toxic relationship.

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Myths That Keep Us Feeling Sorry For Narcissists

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Narcissists are chameleons with the ability to appear to be just what you want and need, at least for the initial whirlwind part of the relationship. However, once they have established the relationship, the dynamics change rapidly, with the narcissist utilizing a variety of tactics and manipulations to keep you close. The relationship stops being about creating a partnership and becomes a focus on keeping them happy and their needs fulfilled.

The tactics that narcissists use in this process are easily recognized by those outside the relationship. They may also be evident to the partner, but the myths around narcissism can make it extremely difficult to leave.

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Why Some People Attract Dysfunctional Relationships

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Most of us tend to pick partners who reflect the vision we have of ourselves and our world. When you think about it, it makes a lot of sense. Compatibility and a sense of ease in a relationship come from having similar preferences, ideas, and values about things like money, religion, monogamy, parenting, and even what makes for good sex. The Legacy Project at Cornell University even did a study on this. They interviewed hundreds of people who had been married 40 or 50 years, and even longer. Most agreed that shared values are at the core of a healthy, long-lasting marriage.

But we don’t pick the people we’re with based on values alone.

We also choose people who have similar ideas about what relationships look like and how they should play out. This sounds good but it can also backfire.

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Learning To Trust After A Toxic Relationship

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A toxic relationship is an unhealthy relationship. These relationships typically include feelings of being unloved, unwanted, misunderstood, unsupported, belittled, or even attacked. While most people consider a toxic relationship emotional and psychological abuse, there can also be issues with physical abuse and domestic violence.

It is possible to find yourself in a toxic relationship and not really understanding how things got to that point. Often the toxic person is very good at hiding their abusive behavior at the beginning of the relationship. If the person is a narcissist, it can be difficult to understand the constant swings from overwhelming and grandiose acts of passion and love to absolute disdain and anger. The result is that you are constantly kept guessing what will happen next and doing everything you can to avoid the hostility and toxicity.

Signs of a Toxic Relationship

A few of the signs you are in a toxic relationship include:

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3 Signs Of Trauma That You May Not Recognize

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Sudden, unexpected, horrific or repeated types of negative incidents in life can all lead to the development of trauma.

Many people think of trauma as something that causes immediate changes in a person’s level of comfort, ability to feel safe, and constant feelings of fear or anxiety in specific situations or locations.

All of these can be true, but trauma and its effects are not all that easy to pinpoint. For some people, the effects of trauma may not occur for weeks after the event, and they may build gradually over time if the trauma is the chronic type of repeated stress such as living in a chaotic or unsafe environment or dealing with bullying or abuse.

Besides the obvious reactions to fear, stress and atypical negative events in life, it is also essential to be aware of three other lesser-known symptoms of trauma.

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Setting The Trap: Dating Strategies Used By Narcissists

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There are many myths and misunderstandings around being in relationships with narcissists. One of the most common myths is that somehow people should be able to recognize a narcissist by simply checking off a few boxes on a handy dating checklist.

In reality, the behavior of a narcissist during the initial stages of a dating relationship is a carefully crafted façade. He or she does not use abusive language or ghost you on the first, second, or even the twentieth date. They do not try to manipulate in overt ways, but they do use subtle and often seemingly innocent behaviors to test the waters to determine the flexibility or the presence of boundaries.

Unfortunately, potential dating partners who have a history of emotional or physical abuse, abandonment, or dysfunctional families often lack boundaries. They fall into the trap of allowing the narcissist to begin to get his way, even over small things, which eventually lead to highly toxic behaviors that will become more significant as the relationship unfolds.

To help understand the trap the narcissist sets during the initial dating phase, let’s take a closer look at the strategies the narcissist employs. Based on your response, you may see more than one strategy in play, or the strategies may change over time.

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The Law Of Attraction And Relationship Issues

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Being addicted to love is not the same as being a sex addict, a drug addict or an alcoholic. Love addicts are drawn to people that initially cause them to feel part of a whole rather than as an isolated individual.

For a love addict being single and alone is a crisis. These are people that rely on others for their sense of identity, where the relationship becomes the focus of their lives. Needless to say, love addicts smother the partner, which only causes the partner to pull away while the love addict clings on and compounds the problem.

The other type of partner that is drawn to a love addict is a person who is completely self-centered. They may have narcissistic tendencies or have another type of personality disorder. These are often the “bad boys” of the world, seeming to do nothing but take in a relationship. Finding a partner that wants nothing to do but to give creates the perfect destructive relationship for both.

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