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Tears and Healing
The Journey to the Light after an Abusive Relationship
by Richard Skerritt

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Is He/She Abusive?
You're not Crazy.
Learn the disease. Stop the abuse.

(this essay adapted from Tears and Healing Reflections)

Are you being abused? You may not know how to tell, but even worse, you may be thinking that you are the crazy one. Abusers work hard to distort our reality to make their reality feel safer.

So what is abuse? Is it someone who hits you to get what they want? Sometimes, mostly not! Ask yourself this: does your partner hurt you repeatedly? Does he or she do it to satisfy their own emotional needs, or because they're out of control? Does she or he use the situation to lock you in so you have to tolerate it, or make a huge sacrifice to get away? If you see this dynamic in your relationship, you are being abused. The hurt of abuse can come in many ways, including physical attacks, verbal attacks, sexual attacks, withholding things we need including affection, sex, money, or contact with friends and family.

You're not Crazy

For many of us, struggling to live with this kind of abusive partner, the first handhold we need to grasp is that we are not crazy. Abusive behavior isn't normal. It is caused by an underlying disorder. Most often, the disorders are borderline personality disorder, narcissistic personality disorder, or sociopathy - technically called antisocial personality disorder. People who suffer from these disorders have extreme emotions, which lead them to actions that can range from puzzling to brutal. Living with them is painful and confusing. Personality disorders are aptly named, because the minds of people who suffer from these disorders work differently than healthy people.  

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They Spin our Reality: Disordered people can't deal with the reality of their behaviors. On some level they realize how hurtful they are, yet accepting this major flaw in themselves is just too painful. So disordered abusers spin our reality to make theirs less painful. One of the most common defense mechanism they use is projection. In projection, a characteristic of themselves that they find just too painful to accept is projected onto us. And the most frequently projected characteristic is mental illness. "I'm not a narcissist. You're the crazy one." Another common and difficult defense mechanism is blame shifting. It's your fault this happened because blah, blah blah blah...

After a while it becomes hard to distinguish what is real from what is being projected and what is being distorted. We begin to doubt our reality and question whether we're the crazy ones, or whether our disordered SO's (significant others) are really right about what they say.

The truth is, THEY'RE NOT RIGHT. But they feel better when they can get us to carry the burden of their illness and their behavior.

Are you in love with someone hurtful?

In Love and Loving it - Or Not! - A User's Guide to Love and Being In-Love explains not just why we fall in love, but why we fall in love with the people we do, the difference between love and being in-love. You can't choose your feelings, but you can set the stage for them to develop with a healthier, happier person. This book explains how. More about this book.
Get it in the Light Bulb Pack, the Relationship Pack, or the Big Storm Pack.

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What's more, disordered people hide their problems very effectively. People with all of these personality disorders - narcissistic personality disorder, borderline personality disorder, and antisocial personality disorder - have serious maladjustments in coping with life. Thus, they live in emotional turmoil. They seek to present a very together appearance, hiding their disease from most people. It is only when we get into a close and private relationship with someone with these personality disorders that the abusive behavior comes out. And because their lives are wracked with emotional turmoil, there is a lot of pent-up emotion that can be focused on us. Yet those around us don't see it, causing us further confusion.

What is this Disease?

Abuse is a behavior, not a disease. But abuse is caused by an underlying disease. Healthy people might occasionally lose their temper, leading to an outburst, but a consistent pattern of hurtful abuse can only be the result of a deeper problem. I help a lot of people come to grips with their hurtful situations, just as I had to come to grips with mine. At first, I thought the problem I faced was verbal abuse, and that's how I first starting finding help. But in my situation, like most, the verbal abuse was only one part of a bigger and more serious situation.

Abusive behavior isn't normal. It is caused by an underlying disorder. Most often, the disorders are borderline personality disorder, narcissistic personality disorder, or sociopathy - technically called antisocial personality disorder. Understanding what is going on in an abusive situation requires understanding these disorders. This connection leads to what we sometimes call the "light bulb effect", where long-standing confusion and hurt suddenly opens up to an insight - and the first steps to protecting ourselves and to healing.

My own healing process started the day I searched for "verbal abuse" on the internet. My own discoveries and healing process unfolded over time in writing, and this today is my book, Tears and Healing. Tears and Healing, now in its fifth printing, has helped thousands of people to deal with their abusive situations, both present and past.

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Now that I spend a good deal of my time helping others, I consult with people by phone. Often, a good part of my time is devoted to explaining the underlying disorders people face: narcissism, borderline, and sociopath. I don't rely so much on the technical definitions of these illnesses. There are lots of pages that offer these on the internet, and they can be overwhelming and confusing.

Instead I prefer to describe an underlying dynamic or driving force that motivates these ill people. After explaining this many times, I wrote Meaning from Madness, which explains what makes abusive people act as they do, explains the psychological defense mechanisms they use which cause them to see a different reality than we see, and explains how alcohol and drug use - so painfully common among them - compounds these disordered patterns.

Why Does He/She Abuse Me?

Meaning from Madness - Understanding the Hidden Patterns that Motivate Abusers: Narcissists, Borderlines, and Sociopaths explains the simple psychological driving force that defines these diseases; what motivates them to abuse their families yet behave well in public; explains their irrational actions, their treatment prospects, and the impact of alcohol abuse combined with these disorders. It explains the overlap/relationship of narcissism, borderline personality disorder and sociopathy. More about this book.

Multiple books are available together in packages  at a savings.

I consider Meaning from Madness to be an essential piece of this puzzle (it's the book right above in the highlight). Though the actions of abusers make no sense from the perspective of a healthy person, there is something inside them that motivates them. Most abusers live with intense and terrifying fears. Events which are insignificant to normal people might trigger these fears in abusers, unleashing powerful and brutal actions on their part, unconsciously intended to reduce their fear. The intent may be to control another person, to discredit someone who seems to be criticizing the abuser, or to keep someone from leaving (abandoning) the abuser.

Stopping the hurt; Healing the Damage -
Dealing with this situation is complex, and people need some idea of "What do I do now that I know this?" For most people, there are important values, beliefs and obligations that have to be carefully thought about. Because abuse is so damaging to a relationship, significant decisions have to be faced, then resolved. Tears & Healing holds a light up in this dark place. Written from the inside perspective of someone who has been through the hell of being emotionally and verbally battered by a spouse, this book addresses the major issues that we all must wrestle with.

Tears & Healing begins with the most difficult issue: abusive partners constantly work to distort our perception of what is happening and what is right and wrong, until we doubt our own judgment so much we can't make decisions. It then addresses the process of detaching to find safe space and to regain a sense of right and wrong, and searching to understand what we, as people, need in our lives - needs that often must be simply put aside to survive in these brutal situations. It deals with love, and the conflict of being in love with someone hurtful to us. And it addresses the intense feelings of obligation that many of us have, which keep us locked in situations that are beyond what any person should endure. Tears & Healing is an intensely personal and validating guide through this maze of thoughts and emotions. The reader reviews below can give you some sense of how liberating Tears & Healing has been for many, many people.

How Do I Cope with this Abusive Relationship?

Tears and Healing - the Path to the Light after an Abusive Relationship explores the feelings, issues, and decisions that we face in an abusive relationship. Brings out the issues of reconnecting with your reality; detaching from the abusive treatment; understanding how the disorder affects you; dealing with love and attraction; obligation to marriage; and healing the hurt of the abuse. More about this book.

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About the Author

Richard Skerritt is a writer, inventor, engineer, and athlete. A survivor of a marriage that turned abusive, he forged a path through confusion, love, obligation, and emotional damage to safety and truer life. His experience and insight, shared in Tears and Healing, originated in his contributions to online support groups for people in relationships with a partner who has borderline personality disorder. He has been a respected contributor and mentor in these groups for the past four years. His writing and publishing work now includes six books (see them all here)and he continues to help people through books, phone consultation, and daily email messages. Not a mental health professional, his perspectives and guidance "from the inside out" have been especially relevant for people in abusive relationships.  More information about Richard is here.

Editorial Reviews of Tears and Healing

Reviewer: J. Paul Shirley, MSW - Co-Author: Stop Walking on Eggshells Workbook 

I highly recommend Richard's book, Tears and Healing. His writing is clear, and although his words are written with gentleness, he pulls absolutely no punches about dealing with the hard facts about BPD and its effects on everyone. Some people say there is a reason for the pain we go through having a partner with BPD, and in Richard's case I agree. He has a gift for lending a helping hand for others trying to walk that painful path. I don't generally get excited about new books on BPD, but Richard's left me feeling good & that's a rare gift for a writer to have.

Reviewer: Sam Vaknin - Author: Malignant Self Love - Narcissism Revisited

There are bookshelves upon bookshelves of professional, scholarly, and utterly inaccessible literature about abusive relationships. Those who need it the most - the traumatized victims - are locked out by the jargon and the lack of practical advice. Recently, survivors and victims have taken matters into their own hands and have published their own books, replete with first hand experiences and tips. Tears and Healing is a fine specimen of such writing: sensitive, attuned to the emotional and pragmatic needs of the survivors, both deep and accessible, a helpful guide to the traumatic aftermath of abuse.

Reviewer: Randi Kreger - Coauthor: Stop Walking on Eggshells and the Stop Walking on Eggshells Workbook; Owner: http://BPDCentral.com .

In Tears and Healing, Richard Skerritt takes us along on his personal journey from his "lightbulb experience" to making painful decisions about his marriage to a woman with borderline personality disorder. It takes courage for non-BP partners to understand and take responsibility for their own role in the "borderline dance," and even more courage to write about it. Richard has done both.

Reviewer: Darla Boughton, Manager of Narcissistic Abuse Recovery/Psychopath forum (4000+ members)

Tears and Healing is a must read for anyone involved in a devastating relationship with a personality disordered partner. It is a must-have, top-notch, first-aid kit to understanding the emotional devastation such a relationship causes. The author reveals his first-hand experience and knowledge. Let Richard's words reveal how to reclaim your sanity in an insane interaction with a disordered partner.

Selected Pages from Tears and Healing

TAH Finding Page 1 TAH Finding Page 1

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Author's Comments 

Abuse is when someone else hurts us to serve their own needs and uses the situation to lock us in and maintain control. Abuse can be physical, emotional, verbal or sexual. My own experience was being verbally and emotionally abused. I consider my experience to be particularly brutal because my abuser sought not just control, but to emotionally destroy me.

But no matter the type or intensity of experience, I believe anyone currently in or having escaped from an abusive situation can benefit from my approaches. I worked hard to understand why I felt trapped and how I could escape. I read and studied many books on psychology and relationships. I pieced together the best ideas from these and added insight and models of my own. I've shared my experience and approaches as a mentor in online support communities since 2000. Hundreds of people in these groups have shared with me how unique and helpful my insights are. And thousands more have read and benefited from my online writings.

Getting yourself out of an abusive situation and healing the damage it has done are not small tasks. It takes time and energy. But you also need guidance in what to work on, because abusive partners deliberately distort our reality to serve their sick needs. My books, combined with continued dialog in support communities, can provide that critical compass to navigate the dark passages until the light breaks through.

I wish you good luck and Godspeed.

Richard Skerritt

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Selected Pages from Meaning from Madness

The Paradox of Abusive Behavior The Paradox of Abusive Behavior

Still Struggling to Put the Pieces Together?

Tears and Healing Reflections - Insights on Abuse, the Diseases that Cause It, and the Relationships it Haunts delves deeper into the pain and paradox of an abusive relationship. It explains why we fail to understand even though we struggle; why holidays are so difficult; the relationship between borderline and narcissistic PD; defines abuse in a simple way. If you've been grappling with this difficult experience, this book can help you reach a better understanding.  More about this book.

Tears & Healing Reflections comes in the Relationship, Big Storm, or Richard Skerritt  package at a savings.

Books by Richard Skerritt:  Books on Abusive Relationships by Richard Skerritt 
Why They
do It

Meaning from
Madness - $20
Your Feelings
and Decisions

Tears and
Healing - $24

In Love and Loving
It - or Not! - $14
Seeing the
Big Picture

Tears & Healing
Reflections - $24

Surviving the
Storm - $24
Patterns of

The Hypervigilant
Click a cover for more info...              Get three or more books together in a package  and save.

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