United Parenting shares – Is Your Partner a Narcissist? by Karyl McBride

Here Are 50 Ways to Tell.

An expert’s checklist for gauging where you stand.
Post published by Karyl McBride Ph.D. on Dec 30, 2014 in The Legacy of Distorted Love

The label narcissist is used loosely these days, typically to indicate anyone who is vain and selfish, but the true personality disorder and its traits run much deeper, and carry long-term debilitating effects for those involved with such people. If you were raised by a narcissistic parent or are in a relationship with a narcissist, you will likely feel more like an object to be used and manipulated to meet the narcissistic partner’s goals or needs. You eventually realize your partner does not see the real you. It is a heart-breaking discovery to realize you have been conned or duped by someone you trusted and loved.

Below I’m offering you a checklist to determine if your relationship carries these devastating traits. Remember: Narcissism is a spectrum disorder; someone with a high level or number of these traits can be a more damaging influence on you, and your children. The more traits, the closer to a full-blown personality disorder.

This checklist is copyrighted and comes directly from my new book to be released on February 10, 2015: Will I Ever Be Free of You? How to Navigate a High-Conflict Divorce from a Narcissist, and Heal Your Family. 

Is Your Partner a Narcissist? Checklist 

  1. When something goes wrong, does your partner blame everyone but himself or herself?
  2. Does your partner refuse to be accountable for his or her bad behavior? (For example, “You made me so mad that I couldn’t help . . .”)
  3. Does your partner believe he or she is always right?
  4. Is your partner unable to tune in to your feelings or your children’s feelings?
  5. Does your partner seem more concerned about how your behavior or your children’s behavior reflects on him or her than on understanding and accepting who you and the kids are as people?
  6. Does your partner seem to be out of touch with his or her own feelings or seem to deny them?
  7. Does your partner carry grudges against you and others?
  8. Is it all about your partner and his/her money, time, parenting time, property, and wishes/demands?
  9. Does your partner seem unwilling to listen to you and to hear your concerns?
  10. Is your partner constantly telling you what to do?
  11. Does your partner make you feel “not good enough”? Have your partner’s constant put-downs caused you to internalize this message?
  12. Does your partner never ask about you, your day, or your feelings, even in passing?
  13. Does your partner need to go on and on about how great he or she is and how pathetic you are?
  14. Does your partner lie?
  15. Does your partner manipulate?
  16. Does your partner tell different people different stories about the same event, spinning the story so that he or she looks good?
  17. When your partner talks about his or her kids, is it about what the kids do rather than who they are?
  18. Are the children uncomfortable with your partner, love your partner, but at the same time are reluctant to spend time with him or her?
  19. Have you come to realize that the kids protect themselves by not sharing their feelings with your partner?
  20. Does your partner mistrust everyone?
  21. Are the kids always trying to gain your partner’s love and approval?
  22. Has your partner spent minimal time with the children?
  23. Does your partner typically skip the children’s events if he or she does not have an interest in that particular activity or does not value it?
  24. Does your partner push the children to be involved in activities that your partner likes or values and discourage or forbid them from pursuing activities that your partner does not value?
  25. Have others in your life said that something is different or strange about your partner?
  26. Does your partner take advantage of other people?
  27. Is your partner all about power and control, pursuing power at all costs?
  28. Is your partner all about image and how things look to others?
  29. Does your partner seem to have no value system, no fixed idea of right and wrong for his or her behavior?
  30. After the divorce, does your partner still want to exploit you? Or has your partner never calmed down?
  31. When you try to discuss your life issues with your partner, does your partner change the subject so that you end up talking about your partner’s issues?
  32. When you describe your feelings, does your partner try to top your feelings with his or her own stories?
  33. Does your partner act jealous of you?
  34. Does your partner lack empathy?
  35. Does your partner only support things that reflect well on him or her?
  36. Have you consistently felt a lack of emotional closeness with your partner?
  37. Have you consistently questioned if your partner loves you?
  38. Does your partner do considerate things for you only when others are around to witness that good behavior?
  39. When something difficult happens in your life (for instance, an accident, illness, a divorce in your family or circle of friends), does your partner react with immediate concern about how it will affect him or her rather than with concern for you?
  40. Is your partner overly conscious of what others think?
  41. Do you feel used by your partner?
  42. Do you feel responsible for your partner’s ailments or sicknesses?
  43. Do you feel that your partner does not accept you?
  44. Is your partner critical and judgmental of you and others?
  45. Do you feel that your partner does not know and value the real you and does not want to know the real you?
  46. Does your partner act as if the world should revolve around him or her?
  47. Does your partner appear phony to you?
  48. Does your partner swing from grandiosity to a depressed mood?
  49. Does your partner try to compete with you?
  50. Does your partner always have to have things his or her way?

As one of my clients commented, “If you have ever awakened at 3 a.m. with heart pounding and a vivid certainty that you must end the relationship with the person sleeping next to you, but the next day continued on as if such middle-of-the-night thoughts were just a bad dream, then you may need some help with the struggle of what to do next. The surreal Alice in Wonderland quality of living with a narcissist is not something we are born knowing how to deal with or even understand.”

Of course, there is hope and healing and if you determine you are struggling with an emotionally abusive relationship I encourage you to reach out, get help, and learn as much as you can about this insidious disorder. You deserve to be loved and cherished, as do your children.

Will I Ever Be Free of You? How to Navigate a High-Conflict Divorce from a Narcissist, and Heal Your Family. New Book Release: February 10, 2015. Atria Books

United Parenting shares – 28 Benefits To Finding a Partner Later In Life.

  1. You’ve had the breakups that led to breakdowns that led to the breakthrough.
  2. You’ve sowed your wild oats — and now think, “Sow what?” All those tempting choices aren’t really so tempting.
  3. You’re healthier and more together — meaning the relationship now has at least a 50 percent chance of being healthier and staying together.
  4. You now wisely know the “ability to compromise” is very, very sexy.
  5. You no longer confuse conflict for passion — and recognize that bumper sticker you’ve read on cars is oh so true: “It’s better to have loved and lost…than to live with a wacko for the rest of your life.” Duh! Instead of choosing a partner who keeps you walking on eggshells — it’s essential to choose someone who’s as comforting as listening to seashells — a partner who keeps you at your calmest and most secure!
  6. You’ve wisely stopped looking for “sex objects” — and started looking for “longterm relationship objects.”  Basically, you now wisely know to seek “long haul qualities” in a partner — rather than “short haul qualities” — because a successful marriage is a long haul marriage.
  7. You now know that just because a person looks good on paper doesn’t mean they’re going to “act good” in real life. Status, wealth, fame and trust funds no longer blindingly seduce you towards a person.
  8. You now know not to become intimately involved with someone who has the following: RED FLASHING WARNING LIGHTS BLINKING BLINDINGLY IN YOUR FACE!
  9. You’re now wisely less “self-centered” about problem-solving — and more “relationship-centered.”
  10. You now know it’s never a checklist of adjectives to look for in a person — but the compatibility of your adjectives with their adjectives. Meaning? The rocks in your head must fit in the holes in the other person’s head.
  11. You now know personality is the tip of the iceberg. But character is the real foundation. While it’s okay not to share all the same interests and hobbies, you must always share the same core character values and ethics!
  12. You now wisely know you’re never going to find perfect, custom-fit love in a world of off-the-rack people. All people will have some flaws and misfittings.
  13. It’s now apparent what was inappropriate behavior in your parents! Meaning? You are now more aware of how not to share your parents’ “Inappropriate Behavior Issues” with your partner!
  14. After having endured a gazillion awful dates, suddenly your fear of working at a relationship is a lot less scary than your fear of more awful dates.
  15. You now know when a relationship is on the road to nowhere — and how to find that exit ramp.
  16. You’re less needy and more want-y. Meaning? You don’t “need” a mate in your life. You want one. And so you are less likely to be unhealthfully co-dependent — and more likely to be healthfully inter-dependent.
  17. You now have work you love — so can put more attention on the work of love.
  18. You now wisely know “communication” is about “listening” — just as much as it’s about talking- – and thereby you now listen with 20/20 hearing.
  19. You now know having a firmer tush won’t snag you a good mate — but having a strong gut and listening to it will!
  20. You now see love as a two-way street — not a rollercoaster ride.
  21. You now know true love requires love of truth. You must share openly and vulnerably with your partner to feel true intimacy and avoid longterm problems. With this in mind, you now also know that if you seek a partner by use gameplaying bait, you will only lure in gameplaying fish. However if you use open/honest communication bait you will lure in open/honest communication fish — the best kind of relationship fish to marry!
  22. You now recognize that you get love in your life by loving your life. Meaning: A man or a woman isn’t meant to be your entire life — they’re meant to enhance the happy life you’ve created for yourself.
  23. You know size does matter. You need a partner with a really big heart. Nice guys and girls don’t finish last — they create relationships that last!
  24. You’ve stopped blaming your past for bad relationships — and started blaming your present. Meaning? You are finally exploring what you’re doing right-here-right-now to bring a relationship down — taking some self-responsibility. You’ve witnessed your “constants” in a variety of relationship settings — and thereby now fully know when you’re the one being the trouble-maker.
  25. Having less time to waste in your life magically increases your intelligence and instincts with people.
  26. You know who you are — so you have a higher percentage probability of finding someone who’s right for you.
  27. You also know who you are not — so you have a higher percentage probability of finding someone who’s NOT right for you.
  28. You now wisely know love is a boomerang. What you have and give away is what you get back.

Written by Karen Salmansohn and posted on her blog on 28/10/14

http://notsalmon.com/2014/10/28/finding-a-partner-later-in-life/

Karen writes articulate and very real pieces about heart-felt issues so please visit her website.

United Parenting – sharing my own story of recovery

I’ve been away from blogging for a while as I needed to concentrate on looking after myself. I was knocked off balance by life events outside of my control last autumn and it’s taken a massive effort for me to bounce back. However, my mojo has returned, I have set new goals in motion and I’m ready to face the world again.
I’ve only just had the courage to watch myself in action and I’m so proud of myself that I’m going to be brave and share my story with you xx‪‪‬ ‪‬ ‪#‎therapy‬

United Parenting writes about “Who’s yer one?”

 

This is a transcript of the presentation that I gave recently at the Parenting 2.0 Conference in Dublin. It’s my story (well, a little of it as I only had 10 minutes to share it!) My mantra when I wrote it was ‘name it and claim it!’ because I believe that if I cannot have the courage to be vulnerable and name my experiences then I’ve no business asking a client to do so in a session with me.

 

 

There’s a saying here in Ireland: Who’s yer one? It means’ who do you think you are to tell me what to do?!’ Well, my name is Niki Williams. I’m a Psychiatric Nurse, Counsellor, Parent Mentor and Trauma Therapist by training. However my main qualification is what I’ve learned through personal experience as a survivor and a divorced mother of three.
My parents separated, my father moved abroad, and I was raised from the age of three by a single mum for nine years. We lived in a council house on welfare benefits. I remember life as simple and carefree. Then my mum got married to a man whom she really didn’t know. I believe she was in love with the idea of being ‘a proper family’ and she fell for his potential rather than his reality.
He was a very sick man. He was a whisky drinking alcoholic who made irresponsible financial decisions. My mother went to work to feed us. He systematically sexually abused and raped me. My mother was too terrified and ashamed to leave him. All this had a hugely damaging effect on our family relationships.
Consequently I was left with a legacy of shame. I felt like it was my fault, there was something bad in me and if people actually knew me they wouldn’t like me.

 

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More positively it gave me a thirst for learning. I had a God given unshakable belief that there were better things out there for me. I wanted to learn how to do things differently. I needed practical, workable alternatives. I became a self-help book junkie!
After some chaotic years of living independently; learning the hard way that hurt people hurt people, I found a man who was willing to marry me. Having read an abundance of literature about relationships, healing and creating a better life; I’d engaged in therapy and felt ready to create my own family. I was clear with him that divorce was not an option for me. In fact, what I told him was “I‘ll kill you before I divorce you so you better be sure this is what you want!”

You can imagine my devastation when five years into forever I discovered my husband’s affair with a married friend. All the things I believed would protect me from this had failed. The bottom fell out of my world.
We had two children at this stage. My daughter was three. When I looked into her eyes I was unable to separate her pain from my own at losing a father. I had long ago vowed that my children would grow up with a mum and dad who loved each other and stayed together. So we reconciled. We honestly tried, we even had another child, but the trust was gone.
By the time we agreed to go our separate ways and I relocated from England to Ireland, two out of three of our children were acting out with daily antisocial behaviours. Because I had worked so much on myself I understood the process. They were drawing attention to what needed to be resolved. I sought help for them. I researched and tried every solution I could come up with and yet, the behaviours continued.
Only now I faced it as a single parent, where I knew no-one and had no support network. On the outside I appeared bravely confident, relying on my old survival skills. On the inside I felt isolated, ashamed, angry and guilty. There were days when I lost sight of anything positive. I woke in the morning thinking “This is not my life”, feeling “I just can’t do this anymore”, before dragging myself out of bed to do what had to be done. I was living a life of quiet desperation.

 

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However, just as in my childhood, my spirit kept telling me there were better things ahead and I could not give up hope. I read about Dr Tony Humphreys, an Irish psychologist and author who seemed to speak my language about raising children with healthy self-esteem. I thought to myself “This is it. If he can’t help me no-one can!” Whilst at U.C.C. for a year. I grew and matured, as a person and a parent.
I learnt, among many other things, the simple yet profound truth that I want to share with you today.
I call it the 100% rule. It goes like this…

Everything that someone else says or does is 100% about them.
Everything I say and do is 100% about me.

Think about that for a moment.

Everything that someone else says or does is 100% about them.
Everything I say and do is 100% about me.

It’s about personal accountability. It was a revelation to me, taking complete responsibility for one’s own actions. Something my parents had not learned and so were unable to teach me. By applying this rule I was able to stop personalising other people’s behaviour. It’s what finally moved me out of a victim mentality where I felt powerless over my life.

For example; my children were not punishing me for being a bad mother. They were telling me the only way they knew how that life was difficult and painful for them too.
My husband didn’t leave because I failed as a wife. He left because he chose to solve his problems that way. He could have chosen differently. I couldn’t have forced him to leave any more than I could make him stay. The only person I can control is myself.
How other people act usually has very little to do with me and more to do with what’s going on inside of them. Fear, anger, hurt, frustration, disappointment, illness, you just don’t know what battles someone else may be fighting in their lives and projecting onto you.

With the compassionate, non judging mentorship I received I learnt how to hold, not control, my children’s pain over the loss of their Dad, or their upset at witnessing my grief. I chose to forgive myself rather than beat myself up. Acknowledging my pain I began taking better care of my own needs and reached out for support to people who were actually able to offer it. I learnt how to parent myself with the same loving compassion that I was endeavouring to parent my children.

 

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Having read so often about loving myself now I was actually doing it. By recognising and honouring my needs, valuing my thoughts and expressing my feelings as being equally as valid as everyone else’s I moved from head knowledge to a heartfelt understanding. It’s not what you have that makes you a good parent, it’s who you are. Love is what my children will remember. I believe that because a lack of love is what I remember. After this shift from within, I moved on with renewed hope.

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I felt empowered to act for myself rather than against another. It’s called setting healthy boundaries which I had struggled with for such a long time. I found my voice and used it to communicate honestly and assertively, especially with my children. No means no because my rules are fair and are there to keep you safe.

It became ok to be vulnerable with them, to respond to their anger or tears with “I understand you feel angry” “It’s ok to be sad” and “I know I miss Daddy too.” I could admit to them “I’m really sorry I shouted, I’m having a tough day and that’s not your fault.” Children are naturally very forgiving.
Seeing my ex-husband through my children’s eyes was a huge step of emotional separation. It was more important to me for him to be their Dad than to punish him for hurting me. I was willing to forgive him and healing followed.
I discovered that I was actually unconditionally loving my children, cultivating a close, affectionate relationship with each of them, despite the difficult behaviours. I feel so passionately about sharing this learning with other parents that I founded United Parenting – Putting Children First. Sometimes getting help doesn’t mean solving the problems. It can mean maintaining a loving relationship even in the face of those problems.

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With a house of teenagers now it’s a bumpy road that we’re travelling together. As we know better we do better. So can you. I trust that sharing my story will inspire you to share your story with me. Thank you for listening.

United Parenting shares 3 things girls need from their fathers.

As a fatherless daughter and a single parent of a teenage girl this excellent blog touched my heart and I felt compelled to share it.

Thank you Joyce McFadden, Psychoanalyst and Author, writing for The Huffpost.      

“The last post I wrote highlighting for mothers the role sexual development plays in their daughters’ overall happiness was incredibly well received. But since it went viral, I’ve gotten many requests to write one for fathers. So here it is.

A little girl needs her father’s support in her unfolding sexual development because it helps secure three hugely important facets of how she’ll see herself in the world throughout her life. You’ll influence her level of personal confidence, her body comfort and pride, and you’ll set her expectations for the way she should be treated by boys and men.

Even though fathers only want the best for their daughters, when asked to contemplate the idea that they should play an active role in guiding their daughters as they transition from little girl, to girl, to young woman, they squirm. They wince. They slam their eyes shut in an effort to make it stop. They say, “Go ask your mother.”

This is exactly the kind of response I’m going to ask fathers to reconsider, because your daughters really do need you.

Whether we’re talking about the idea of teaching your toddler the accurate names for her body parts during bath time, educating your 8-year-old about menstruation or discussing sexual behaviour as your teenager is getting ready for a date, dodging, squirming and wincing aren’t reactions that are going to help your daughter feel comfortable in her own skin or confident about who she is.

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Parents don’t wince over things they’re proud of or happy about in their kids, and even our youngest daughters understand this. When we’re proud of them and happy for them, we beam. We smile. We tear up. So, when you reveal your discomfort with your daughter’s sexuality, you’re unintentionally teaching her it’s either something to be afraid of or something to be disdained. You’ll also be directly or indirectly teaching her you don’t want to be involved in knowing that part of her, and that will probably create distance in your relationship. None of this will enhance her self-esteem or her ability to believe you love her unconditionally.

In both my clinical practice and my private life, whenever men share their fears for their daughters’ sexuality, it tends to go something like this: “I’m going to put her in a convent because I know what guys are like.” But if the problem is that fathers know what guys are like, the solution isn’t to make our daughters pay the price by sequestering them. The solution is to raise our sons to respect girls and women.

On that note, we need to be more conscious of what we imply about kids’ sexuality from the time they’re little. We always think the sexual socialization of our sons and daughters begins in adolescence, when it actually starts so much earlier. Take the following typical scenarios and compare how differently we treat male and female sexuality.

Scene One: When my daughter was a toddler and we were at the playground, it would be very common to have an adult approach the mother of a toddler boy who, by society’s standards, would be considered beautiful, and say with a smile, “Oh… he’s going to be a heartbreaker when he grows up!”

Embedded in that comment lies the cultural message that there’s an expectation this little boy will leave a wake of female misery behind him as he moves through his adolescence and manhood. He’ll love them and leave them, breaking hearts right and left. And it isn’t said with contempt. It’s a celebration of his male sexuality — it will be a point of pride that he’s a heartbreaker.

Scene Two: It would be just as common on that same playground to have an adult approach the mother of a toddler girl who, by society’s standards, would be considered beautiful, and say with a smile, “Oh, what a beautiful girl! You better lock her away until she’s 30!”

Embedded in that statement is the cultural message that this little girl should basically resign herself to being seen as a sexualized victim — that she’ll be so ill-prepared to take care of herself, she should just be locked away. And this isn’t said with sadness. It’s a celebration of censure — a happy stealing away of her ownership of her female sexuality.

That’s the G-Rated childhood version, but your daughter will swim in a sea of similar messages throughout her life. Just open a newspaper or go online to find a current example of the R-Rated version, like Soroya Chemaly’s article regarding an ongoing battle with Facebook to remove content that trivializes or encourages violence against girls and women.

From the impact of a seemingly innocuous playground comment to the violent extreme of rape culture, this is why your daughter needs to know you value her sexual worth. Locking her away until she’s 30 isn’t what will help her. Her internalization of your esteem for her is what will be useful to her in combating the pressures she’ll be up against. I do want to stress, however, that it isn’t all about safety. Her internalization of your esteem for her will also be one of the things that gives her the confidence to be true to herself so she can make decisions in pursuit of her personal happiness on all fronts.

So, on the road to raising a happy, confident woman, here are three things your daughter needs from you:

1. She needs you to respect her body and its capacities.

When she’s little, don’t avoid using the correct names for her body parts. I saw a discussion about this on “The View,” and one of the perspectives was that children are too young to know such “adult” terms. But they’re not adult terms. They’re anatomical terms. They contribute to self-knowledge, which contributes to a well-being. A study in the journal Gender and Psychoanalysis found that preschool-age girls were more likely to have been taught the word “penis” than any specific word for their own genitals. That isn’t fair and it isn’t right. If you don’t call her elbow her “Over There,” then don’t refer to her vulva as her “Down There.” When we do that, we only stigmatize those parts and make it even harder for our girls to feel pride and ownership over them. And if you’re uncertain about the anatomical terminology, invest in the two minutes it will take you to Google it. Your daughter’s body image is well worth those 120 seconds.

When she’s older, don’t shy away from discussions about menstruation, and if you don’t understand how it works, educate yourself years before she starts so you can respond to any questions that might pop up along the way. Let her know you’re proud of her reproductive functioning. Remember, if it weren’t for menstruation, you wouldn’t even have a daughter. If the two of you have talked about it from the time she was young, when she’s older, you’ll already have built a shared comfort level with it. Then, if she asks you to pick up some tampons for her while you’re out, rather than having it turn into an awkward moment that would have reflected negatively on her reproductive system, you can simply say “sure,” and ask her to write down what kind she’d like. The exchange will be as it should be: natural.

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2. She needs to feel close to you throughout your lives together.

Don’t go MIA or withdraw from her once she starts to sexually mature. I believe the psychology of this common paternal phenomenon is rooted in how basic it can feel to some men to view women primarily through a sexualized lens. (As Billy Crystal jokes, “Women need a reason to have sex. Men just need a place.”) It can be difficult for men to go from parenting a pre-adolescent girl to finding themselves the father of a young woman with curves.

Remember, that new body is the one your daughter will be living in the rest of her life. Let her know you’ll be by her side throughout it all. If you back away, there’s a danger she may think it’s her fault. She could feel she’s losing her closeness to you simply by virtue of being drawn into a biological process she has no power to stop. There’s absolutely no way she can stay your little girl just so you can remain comfortable. Sometimes, though, a girl feels caught in this bind and she may sub-consciously feel she has to choose between her human sexuality and your love for her. She may also fear you’ll judge her if she ventures into sexual activity. When this occurs, in addition to weakening her bond with you, it can later complicate her ability to have adult sexual relationships without experiencing guilt or shame; it’s hard to have a solid sense of personal confidence if you feel like you’re being judged or like you’re not enough for your parents, just the way you are. As her father, you have the power to make certain she knows your love is steadfast, and that she won’t have to choose between your love and her maturation.

3. She needs you as a role model for how she should be treated by boys and men.

No matter her sexual orientation, your daughter will live in a world with boys and men. Pay attention to the way you address her as well as to the way you talk about women. Be thoughtful in the way you speak to your sons about girls and women, and set limits on appropriate language. The tone you set in your home can either negatively complicate how she believes she deserves to be treated by the opposite sex, or it can ground her in her right to be treated respectfully.

Part of that respect needs to include your appreciation of the fact that her sexuality will be about far more than just the dangers of sexually transmitted diseases, unplanned pregnancy and sexual violence. More importantly, it will be about desire, attraction, the complexities of romantic relationships and often, difficult choices. Offer her guidance, but as she experiences these things, healthy parenting will also sometimes involve affording her the same freedom you would want for yourself — the freedom to follow her own heart and mind.

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In my research, one of the most common things daughters said about their fathers was they wish they were more communicative. So, take the risk on behalf of your daughter, and open the door for the two of you to talk about sexual matters. Don’t worry if you’re nervous — in fact, cop to it. Tell her you weren’t raised to be comfortable talking about sexuality, but that you’re going to forge ahead because you never want her to ever question your regard for her wellness and happiness. She won’t care if you fumble through it at first. Let her know you understand her sexuality will be an important part of who she is throughout her life and that you want her to always be comfortable in, and proud of, her body.

Let her know she should be treated with the respect she deserves, and that it’s your honour, as the first man in her life, to set that bar high.”

United Parenting writes about fear.

With the best of intentions to write on a regular basis I have in reality been sharing other peoples great blogs rather than creating my own. As a single mother of three terrific and time consuming children I find I am so busy juggling the balls of finances, household chores, garden and car maintenance, taxi service, social secretary, volunteer, mature student, loyal friend and dog walker that I rarely get a chance to commit my thoughts to paper (or word processor).

I am a deep thinker and an action taker which makes for a busy brain and an even busier life. Last week it all caught up with me in a way that has left me feeling vulnerable, raw and having to reach out for help and support. This does not come easy to me as I’m fiercely independent and experience others as often being unreliable or unavailable. Rather than risk being let down I ‘just get on with it’ by myself.

Whilst driving home from my first evening of class at University I had what I now realise was a full blown panic attack. It was triggered by an accumulation of fear over the preceding couple of weeks. It began with me allowing myself to “feel the fear and do it anyway” but instead of simply having a few tears and moving through the fear as I usually would it became overwhelming. I lost control of myself which was incredibly frightening for me.

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I kept telling myself to breathe yet my body was so tight I couldn’t get my breath into my belly and I began to hyperventilate. I felt pins and needles in my hands and feet, it was terrifying! I couldn’t stop the car because I was too scared that I would then be stranded on a dark country road in the middle of nowhere. My only thought was to get somewhere safe – home.

I kept talking out loud to myself, saying “You’re ok, stay calm, stay in your body, focus on the road, you’re going to be ok, you’re safe, it’s ok” over and over and over again, until I reached my driveway. When I stopped the car I couldn’t move my body. It was like I was pinned to the seat. I phoned a friend and blurted out tearfully “I’m not ok, please come and get me.” They did, the panic subsided and I came back to myself.

The experience has left me physically shaken and emotionally wobbly. Taking daily small steps I am pushing through the desire to give in to the hopelessness and fear by loving myself. I get up each morning and tell myself that each day is a fresh start. I put on clothes that make me feel good about myself and smile into the mirror. I forgive myself for not being perfect and embrace my humanness. I hug and kiss my children, tell them I love them and smile at them. My heart fills with gratitude for their warmth and company. I list today the things that I CAN do. When I have done all that is within my own power, I talk with a friend and share a little of my vulnerability with them.

Each day that I have done this I feel a little better, a small bit stronger and more able to face the world head on. The more compassion I demonstrate towards myself and my own vulnerability the more I am able to offer others the safety to also be fully themselves in my company.

What amazing learning!

United Parenting seeks clients.

As I begin Year 3 of Counselling and Psychotherapy degree in Cork Institute of Technology this month I am actively seeking new clients.  I currently work in Ballincolling,  Mallow and Fermoy areas.

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Do you…
Want to shout less and laugh more?
Have concerns about your child?
Need to talk with someone safe who won’t judge?
Think you can’t afford counselling?

Then I can help you.

I offer…
Practical help that really works.
Support to understand what works well for you and what needs to change.
A safe confidential space just for you.
An immediate appointment and sliding fee scale.

Call me today on 087 1502135.

I’m here for you.

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