Contemplating what’s Real

No chaos, damn it.” – Jackson Pollock.pollockmovieHey, you never know…

Netflix: When trailer park resident Teri Horton bought a painting for five bucks that she was unable to fit through the doorway of her friends home, she tries to sell it in a garage sale. Little did she know it could be a genuine Jackson Pollock worth millions.

To get an idea of the art world’s opinion of Teri’s painting, the filmmakers showed it to Thomas Hoving, the legendary former director of New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.

This film documents her dealings with the art world’s elitist establishment to authenticate the piece. Throughout the brash woman’s 15-year endeavor to validate the painting, the clash between stuffy art dealers and the cussin’, beer-drinkin’ Horton is funny, eye-opening and utterly unforgettable.

quotes by JP

Abstract painting is abstract. It confronts you. There was a reviewer a while back who wrote that my pictures didn’t have any beginning or any end. He didn’t mean it as a compliment, but it was. – Jackson Pollock

It doesn’t make much difference how the paint is put on as long as something has been said. Technique is just a means of arriving at a statement. – Jackson Pollock

He had a lot to say

 

health MATTERS: a shot in the arm – B12

Guess I was feeling a bit mentally drained from recent life events.

this is not me

this is not me

On Thursday I was invited to a special beauty event held at a wellness clinic (called a wellness boutique – not really a boutique as we know it) in Yaletown.  I’ll tell you more about the evening later.  An allopathic practitioner administered my very first B12 injection.  I’ve always hated needles but at least it was quick. It was a dosage of 1000 mcg by Hydroxocobalamin form which is the preferred form to use because its effects are long lasting and it does not contain the cyanide component of Cyanocobalamin (which I had no idea about).  This is the required dosage per month which is given intramuscularly. The rationale being that B12 is stored in the liver allowing for potential overdose.  Vitamin B12 is a water soluble vitamin.  There is a very low incidence of B12 toxicity even with large amounts up to 1000mcg daily.

So the very next day which was yesterday, I had energy to spare from 7:00 am to 7:00 pm non-stop.  Of course my day didn’t end at 7:00pm but I got to relax after that.  It began with yoga, then a run, cleaned the house strenuous physical exercise by itself made a pie, planted geraniums, packaged up some skincare products, shopped for groceries and gave the dog his usual 3 walks before putting together some munchies for my visitors.

Why B12?

People have been getting B12 shots regularly.  Here are some of the Benefits:

Helps to boost the immune system and increase energy

Helps with Stress

Depression

Digestive disturbances

Treats some kinds of nerve damage

Treats diabetic and peripheral neuropathy

Treats restless or weak and tingling arms & legs, pernicious anemia, allergies, skin problems, fatigue, mental symptoms

Prevents B12 deficiency in vegan vegetarians and persons with absorption difficulties

Improves memory and teaming ability

I know people who have been getting these shots for a long time and swear by them.B122

The IV Wellness Boutique is Vancouver’s first ever wellness boutique specializing in intravenous vitamin therapy – a treatment which delivers high doses of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and amino acids intravenously.  They’ll hook you up!  

The IV’s approach to health care incorporates IV vitamin therapy with a multitude of health care services including:

Naturopathic Medicine

Registered Acupuncture

Medical Esthetics

Registered Massage Therapy

Address:1060 Homer Street

www.theIV.ca

Feel-good Friday: Girls Night IN

Speaking of fun Fridays, last Friday four female friends and I got together for a little potluck, lots of wine and a much hyped about movie that’s been out for months now, adapted from a bestselling book that none of us were ever planning to read and now we won’t bother for sure.  I have to preface this by saying that we are all fairly sophisticated women, well travelled, adventurous and at least three out of the group are intellectuals but not me.new-trailer-fifty-shades-grey

Okay, we were all curious to watch a less than satisfying movie (that’s putting it kindly) because we all wanted to find out (let’s be honest) what kind of kinky sex scenes would play out.  All five of us really had no idea what to expect because that was all we knew of this movie. And of course that was all we cared about but we were hoping for a little more of an in depth storyline other than that of a young handsome (but bland) successful billionaire (with a secret and a well stocked secret play room) who preys on inexperienced vulnerable young women, one of who works part time in a hardware store and is not so sure she wants to sign the contract he puts forth before her……oh, hope I don’t ruin any of this for you.

So we watched embarrassing as it is to admit Fifty Shades of Grey which we re-named Fifty Shades of Dull. We didn’t rent it for the acting ability as if but even the sex scenes were not the least bit exciting – pretty bland actually.  That’s not to say that any of us find getting whipped or tied up to be exciting not that any of us who may have ever tried it would ever admit to it, but I’m guessing not but it was just plain boring.

Although it seemed like it could go somewhere

Although it seemed like it could go somewhere

Put it this way, it was more of a comedy and we laughed the whole way through. The best part was giving our own commentary to the actors.  We figured we’d re-write the script our way and change the dialogue so it would be more inspiring.  Our version would not be “R” rated and the lead actor would be changed to someone else like Daniel Craig although we’d have to do a casting call just to make sure.

Then we wondered how many women actually found this movie to be stimulating? Best word that comes to mind.  Also, how many women are experiencing less than satisfactory sex lives that they have to resort to watching movies like this for excitement – Anyone? but not me.

I give this movie a whipping * out of ********** – but it was a fun evening all in all and it went to prove that 1,000 critics can’t be wrong!

How many of you have seen it?  Ahh, all of you – just too afraid to admit it?

beauty – beautiful collaborations

Where fashion and beauty collide. Just like clothing giant H&M and Target department stores have collaborated with major designers for much hyped about limited edition pieces, the beauty industry has followed suit.  We’re on the hunt for the exclusive.kateSince Kate Moss knows a thing or two about beauty, it makes sense that her name is on Rimmel long-lasting lipstick (by Kate Moss) with light-reflecting technology.

And take the incredible holographic packaging that  proenza schouler (New York based womens wear and accessories designers) put into their limited edition makeup line for M.A.C. Cosmetics until they were sold old.  I bought two lipsticks.

Proenza Schouler for M.A.C.

Proenza Schouler for M.A.C.

More recently Tony-nominated designer Isabel Toledo and her husband, renowned artist Ruben Toledo, join together with M·A·C for a collection of gorgeous hues packaged in black, white and red with limited-edition illustrations and graphic lines and faces by Ruben Toledo.

Toledo

Toledo

The makeup collaboration between Alber Elbaz and Lancôme gained quite a bit of buzz. Elbaz, as the designer for Lanvin, is well known for his quirky fashion illustrations and it’s these illustrations that were featured on the packaging of the Hypnôse Show collection. The collection included mascaras, eye shadow palettes, and false eyelashes.

Alber Elbaz for Lancôme

Alber Elbaz for Lancôme

While the influential artist is no longer around, the Andy Warhol Foundation collaborated with Nars for a limited edition makeup collection. There were makeup palettes dedicated to Factory it-girls, lip glosses housed in metal soup cans, and Pop Art prints a-plenty! Even if you’re not a die-hard Warhol fan, there’s a lot to like about this collection.

Andy Warhol for Nars

Andy Warhol for Nars

Karl Lagerfeld is no stranger to a collaboration. He’s done the clothing collaboration thing and last year he teamed up with cosmetics company Shu Uemura. The collection, called Mon Shu Uemura included eye shadow palettes, eyelash curlers, lipsticks, and nail stickers. All of the cosmetics featured quirky packaging designed by Lagerfeld. He even went so far as to photograph the collection himself!

Lagerfeld for Kiehl's

Lagerfeld for Shu Uemura

Cosmetic’s brand Kiehl’s teamed up with contemporary artist Kenny Scharf for their Holiday 2012 collection. He customized the packaging of several products for the brand as part of their annual philanthropic project where100% of the proceeds from the collaboration were donated to various associations around the world that help in protecting children.

Kenny for Kiehl's

Kenny Scharf for Kiehl’s

It’s fresh, it’s fun and it gives the artist an opportunity to create something different and open up another avenue, and the purchaser to obtain a little something special.

I may have missed a few. These are just a few examples of arty makeup collections.

It just goes to show that an artist’s canvas can take any shape or form.

Photos: google images

Style/Art: Dior and I

As Valentino said, “I love beauty, it’s not my fault.Dior1

That’s why I went to see the stunning documentary “Dior and I” For the love of  beautiful, well made clothes and because twice in my lifetime (so far) I’ve had the pleasure of visiting the Dior design house in Paris.  Unfortunately it was not to be measured for haute couture, but like a fairytale to imagine myself wearing it, and to admire everything in sight.dior5The documentary which is part of the Vancouver International Film Festival (VIFF), does an excellent job of bringing the viewer inside the storied world of the Christian Dior fashion house with a privileged, behind-the-scenes look at the creation of Raf Simons’ first haute couture collection as its new artistic director.

Before being appointed to this position, Belgium born Raf Simons was best known within the industry for designing tailored menswear, and in 2005 was appointed creative director of Jil Sander – a role in which he flourished.  It was all ready-to-wear, so was he ready for Dior?dior3Those familiar with the Jil Sander minimalistic label were waiting with bated breath to see how Raf would cast his ideas onto the Dior label especially having never worked in haute couture.  In the cutthroat fashion world you wonder if they were hoping he’d succeed or fail.

For fashion fanatics there’s plenty of eye candy.  There’s also humour, and tensions that arise in a high strung fashion climate with only weeks to spare before the big show and not everything is ready.  Also, Raf wants to make a name for himself and do something completely different which the house has never done before.  He’s a fan of art and wants to incorporate ideas from artist Sterling Ruby, whose work he admires (paintings that look like they were spray painted onto canvases) onto fabric for dresses and jackets for the new collection.  It is something the atelier is not used to and not sure they can pull off.

Sterling Ruby

Sterling Ruby

The final scene is the big fashion show with plenty of stars, other well known designers like Donna Karan and Donatella Versace and fashion editors like Vogue’s Anna Wintour. The grand finale takes place in a grand Paris apartment where the walls have been entirely cloaked with a million flowers.  Pretty heady.  Hope no one had allergies.Dior-Haute-Couture-Source-HelloThere’s a lesson learned here.  People get typecast –  not just in movies but in real life too.  What did they call you Raf?  A minimalist I believe.  Looking at these photos goes to prove…

Minimalist no more!dior2article-sterling_full-article-crop-left

Photos: google images

recipe: ridiculously good homemade protein bars

These addictive energy bars are easy to make, easy to store and really easy to eat!  I love to eat one after a run or when I’m feeling a bit run down and need an energy boost.

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My Recipe:

1 cup whole raw almonds

1 cup pitted dates

1 cup raisins

2 Tbsp. sunflower seeds

1 Tbsp. flax seeds                                                                                                                 

1 Tbsp. chia seeds

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. pure Vanilla Powder (I used Cook’s Vanilla Bean Extract)

1 scoop of high quality protein powder (I use Brad King’s Ultimate Vegan)

1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes 

Put all ingredients into a food processor and pulse until ingredients form into a ball (the dates hold everything together, so if you need to, add a bit more). energyPour the mix onto parchment paper & pat down with your hands.

removed from parchment and ready to cut

removed from parchment and ready to cut

Refrigerate for 1-2 hours. Cut into squares, wrap in parchment paper and store in your refrigerator.  You can freeze them too.energy2

Tip #1: Cut a small piece of parchment paper to help pat the mixture down with.  This will prevent mix from sticking to your hands.

TIP #2: Medjool dates are the best and easiest for removing the pits.

TIP #3: Experiment with different combinations like cranberries instead of raisins, or a combo of half sour cherries & half raisins. This time I used raisins and unsweetened bing cherries – delicious combo!

 Enjoy!

Art/Culture: “Show Me Love” – an exhibit by Yayoi Kusama

Selfie Realization!

Must Love Polka-Dot

Must Love Polka-Dots

In 2013, Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrored Room was the surprise hit of the art world, the piece that launched thousands of selfies on its way to becoming an international cultural phenomenon. By the end of her exhibition I Who Have Arrived in Heaven‘s run at David Zwirner Gallery in New York, the waits to see the show had grown to eight hours long. (On an average day, the exhibition received around 2,500 visitors, each allotted less than a minute of time in the space.) So the question hanging over her second Zwirner show, Give Me Love, was if Kusama could once again channel the same spirit.infinity-room-artist-yayoi-kusama-returns-to-new-york-with-a-new-obliteration-room-845-body-image-1431382702

At 28, Kusama left her native Japan for New York City like so many before and after her, with a one-way ticket and a dream. Like Yoko Ono and the FLUXUS movement, Kusama created a series of instructions and “invitations” that could be re-replicated, her most famous a series of be-in style protests in the late 60s that involved naked men and women, covered in polka dots, stationed outside the UN, the New York Stock Exchange, the Statue of Liberty, and elsewhere.

When she began to deteriorate both physically and emotionally in 1973, she returned to her native country for treatment, to commence what would turn into a decades-long stint in a mental hospital. As she recovered, she acquired her own unique, some have said therapeutic, visual style, the most recognizable her polka dot and infinity net works. With her success of the Infinity Mirrored Room, 60 years after her initial arrival in the city Kusama finally achieved the New York welcome she’d so longed for, an adoration that extended far beyond the cloistered world of the city’s arts institutions—the Guardian even called her the world’s most popular artist of 2014. So what has she done for an encore?

The Artist

The Artist

The new show, which will be up through mid-June, features the artist’s intricate paintings, large-form pumpkin sculptures, and Obliteration Room, an interactive project inspired by a makeshift “American middle-class house.” The design is based on the urban planning initiatives of Levittown, New York, widely considered to be the first suburb and prototype for many of the country’s postwar communities. As part of Obliteration Room, which was previously staged in Australia, visitors are given colorful polka dot stickers to place wherever they like inside the all-white house. Eventually, the faux TV, dinner table, sofa, and desk will all become a pastiche of color swatches, transforming the calm, blank slate into a space that is overwhelming with radiant life. Gallery visitors become willing participants in both the project’s destruction and renewal, in keeping with Kusama’s prior themes of life, death, and rebirth.infinity-room-artist-yayoi-kusama-returns-to-new-york-with-a-new-obliteration-room-845-body-image-1431383049

The most recent reason for Kusama’s resurgence is the social media effect. Infinity Mirrored Room was one of the most Instagrammed and selfied art events of 2013, and perhaps of all time. But you can’t measure her influence merely in likes and reblogs, says Hanna Schouwink, a senior partner at David Zwirner.

“[Kusama]’s a genius, someone who’s really been able to tap into what it means to be human, whether you live in America or Tokyo or Russia,” explains Schowink. “People from all over the world tune in to her message. Every museum, every single venue where these shows have shown, has broken [attendance] records for its institution. And then she breaks them doubly. It’s a phenomenon that I don’t think we’ve ever seen before.”

Antwaun Sargent, Jiajia Fei, and another visitor at 'Give Me Love'

Antwaun Sargent, Jiajia Fei, and another visitor at ‘Give Me Love’

David Zwirner himself says, “Very few artists have this gift to really transcend the art world. It’s rare. Jeff Koons has that gift, of course. What Kusama does is very life-affirming. It’s very positive, and it asks you to enter. It’s not opaque, and she doesn’t hold back as an artist. She’s had difficult times in her life, and I think that transports to the work and people really react to it.”

Though the sheer volume of Infinity Room selfies puts it in a league with such tourist traps as the Statue of Liberty and the Brooklyn Bridge, the photo-friendly nature of the exhibit wasn’t a calculated move by Zwirner to court the smartphone set.

But why do visitors respond to Kusama’s work? Easy: “It just makes people happy.”

And as is often the case with happiness, sometimes you’ve just got to wait.

Yayoi Kusama’s Give Me Love is on view at David Zwirner Gallery in New York through June 13, 2015 with extended hours during New York Frieze Week.

Source – Story and Photos:  Laura Feinstein, Brooklyn-based editor and writer for Vice.com

From me:

I Want Happiness!  According to Buddha,  If you take away “I” which is “ego” and you take away “want” which is “desire” all you’re left with is Happiness.

happy face

Contemplating making an entrance

This is fun. Look at the arches and pick the one that is immediately most appealing to you. The one that you choose reveals a lot about your personality. arches

If you chose number 1, your path is freeing. You are the type of person who needs a ton of space. You need the freedom to do things your own way, you prefer a path that you carve yourself, especially one with infinite possibilities and routes. You don’t want to feel constrained and are highly independent, rebellious even, but you don’t like confrontation. You’re more likely to passively resist someone or something. You hate being rushed, and prefer to take the time to savour life. You’re too busy enjoying life to draw attention to yourself.

If you chose number 2, your path is private. You are the kind of person who prefers to travel alone. You like to observe, think, and sort out whatever is in your head. You prefer a path that’s fit for one. You can see others once you arrive at your destination, but you need your downtime first. You are very original and insightful. You look at the world in a unique way, and others can benefit from your point of view. You are a bit of a loner, but you connect well with people when you take the time. You are very understanding.

If you chose number 3, your path is colourful. You are a very engaging and engaged person. You love to be part of the world… you like to experience it all. Your ideal path is filled with colour, excitement and beauty. For you, it’s more about the journey than the destination. You are curious and excited to learn more. You love to start conversations, and you ask lots of questions. You are intellectual and witty. You think of more zingers than you’d ever use, and you keep people laughing.

If you chose number 4, your path is exciting! You are always moving forward in life, often into the unknown. You just go for it and deal with the consequences later. Your ideal path is unpredictable and maybe a little scary. You are drawn to the unknown. You can be a rule breaker, and you’re even somewhat careless. You have been known to act without thinking, but it usually all works out for you. You are very spontaneous and a major thrill seeker. You are going to make the most of the time you’ve been given on this planet!

If you chose number 5, your path is welcoming. You are a peace-seeking low maintenance person. You are very content, and you don’t like to be bothered. Your ideal path is clear cut and enjoyable. You want to enjoy your trip and to know what you’re getting into. You will often take the easy choice whenever possible. Life is hard enough, and you never want to make it harder on yourself, you are stable and supportive of those around you. You are known for your consistency and down to earth perspective.

If you chose number 6, your path is quiet. You value solitude in all aspects of your life. You can spend large periods of time alone without feeling lonely. Your ideal path is one that is very still and quiet. You want to absorb everything around you without feeling overwhelmed. You seek meaning in every aspect of life. You live your life very deliberately- both in action and in thought. You don’t like crowds, but you do like people. You value authentic relationships, and you prefer the depth of one on one interaction.

My result was extremely accurate (the thrill of infinite possibilities mixed with excitement).  Okay it was a combination of two doorways – couldn’t  make up my mind.

What about yours?

Source: http://chicinitie.com/

health MATTERS: when it’s all about THEM! The Narcissist.

What’s it like to live with one?

Narcissists simply do not make good partners

Narcissism is the pursuit of gratification from vanity or egotistic admiration of one’s own attributes. The term originated from Greek mythology, where the young Narcissus fell in love with his own image reflected in a pool of water. (wikipedia)narcissist

Last month, the goop.com website posted a piece about the legacy of narcissistic parents from Dr. Robin Berman , a practicing psychiatrist, Associate Professor of Psychiatry at UCLA, and author of Permission to Parent. To say that the piece resonated would not quite do it justice: It hit a nerve. And prompted many follow-up emails and questions, which primarily revolved around concern from readers that they might currently be involved with a narcissist, to debilitating effect. Below, Dr. Berman addresses the ramifications of romantic involvement with a narcissist, relationships that often kick off with so much fanfare they feel like a Disney cliché, before the fantasy fades and a darker reality emerges.

This is a little longer of a blog post than usual but I think you’ll find it quite interesting.  We all seem to know someone with these traits.  How to handle it?

I’ve heard the story countless times. A client comes in confused, hurt, and disheartened, wondering what happened to her fairytale romance that started off with such a bang. Invariably some combination of these words come next: “Prince Charming,” “soulmate,” “man of my dreams,” “swept me off my feet,” “attentive,” “charismatic”…”so all in.”

I am a psychiatrist, not a psychic, but I can predict what comes next: The relationship spirals downward and this so-perfect-he-can’t-possibly-be-real man morphs into something else entirely. Often, something much more disturbing. He needs endless attention, yet nothing she does makes him happy. Everything she says is wrong, as he’s easily injured or angered. She starts to feel very alone in the relationship, confused, and unmoored. What’s worse, she might feel like she’s somehow to blame—that she should work even harder to please.

Often, the dynamics play out more insidiously. You talk about an issue, and your partner relates it immediately to something that happened to him; your story fades as his takes over. Or you and your partner disagree and somehow you end up second-guessing yourself, as if dissent threatens his very well-being. Any needs you communicate that aren’t in line with his may be thrown back at you as a character flaw. For instance, you tell your boyfriend you won’t be able to get together on your usual date night because of work, and his comeback is: “You’re just not available for a serious commitment right now, and I want a real relationship.” Suddenly you have a global problem and he is a victim. What a head-trip.

“NARCISSISTS TAKE EVERYTHING SO PERSONALLY BECAUSE UNDERNEATH THEIR GRANDIOSE BRAVADO LURKS PROFOUND SELF-LOATHING—THEY NEED TO BE SHORED UP BY CONSTANT EXTERNAL PRAISE.”rottenecard_forgiving-narcissist

If this all sounds familiar, perhaps you, too, are living with or dating a narcissist. The big, charming personality is typical of narcissists. Initially quite likable, they capture everyone’s attention. When they shine their light on you, it is easy to fall hard.

But that fall becomes painful when other narcissistic traits make themselves known. Narcissists are hypersensitive to any perceived critique. Feedback other than flattery feels like a slight and can trigger extreme anger. They feel deeply injured by criticism and have an excessive need for praise and admiration. Any time you express your honest feelings, you might stumble into your partner’s emotional quicksand. This is not what real love feels like.

Falling in love may put you off balance, but standing in love firmly grounds you. An absolute essential ingredient of a good relationship is emotional safetyyou need to feel safe to be the real you! But it is very difficult to be yourself when you have such an emotionally volatile partner. Narcissists are often arrogant, self-important, and devoid of empathy. They are so in their own world they can’t even see you. It’s hard to stand in someone else’s shoes when you can’t see past your own. Narcissists see you not as you, but more as an extension of themselves.

To be seen and adored for who you really are, though, is the highest form of romance. I once heard that the word intimacy can be broken down into the words “IN TO ME YOU SEE.” It is so difficult for the narcissists in your life to truly see you and get you because they are focused on themselves. Their needs steamroll over yours. Talking about how you feel becomes exhausting and frustrating because they can’t truly appreciate your perspective and because you have to sugarcoat everything to not set them off.

This would me me if I were living with one

Ha, this is exactly what I would do.

“IF HE EASILY CONDEMNS THOSE HE PREVIOUSLY CHERISHED, CHANCES ARE THAT DARK LIGHT WILL SHINE ON YOU AT SOME POINT, TOO.”

A patient once told me this story: “When I was newly married, we saw the movie Inception. When we walked out of the theater and I said I didn’t like it, my husband flew into a rage. ‘What?! We love thought provoking movies! How could you not get that story?!’ I remember thinking ‘Who is we?’ His reaction was so full of wrath, I was scared to speak up. From that point on, more and more pieces of my true self went silent.”

This exemplifies how quickly the benign can become malignant and destroy emotional safety. Even disagreeing about what you think of a movie can trigger your partner’s disapproval or anger. Living with or dating narcissists feels like you have to tiptoe around minefields and are constantly on guard to not set them off. Narcissists take everything so personally because underneath their grandiose bravado lurks profound self-loathing—they need to be shored up by constant external praise. Their fuel is admiration, and they need you to reflect their magnificence because they truly don’t feel it themselves. Being that perfect, flattering mirror is depleting, and after awhile, your needs become enmeshed with theirs. You lose sight of where they end and you start. You become so busy shoring up the narcissist that you have nothing left for yourself. You tend to disappear.

Meanwhile, as you are doing all that work to build up your partner, he or she may be busy tearing others down. The classic example comes from Snow White and the narcissistic Evil Queen. Maleficent needs constant reassurance from her Magic Mirror that she, indeed, is the fairest of them all. But once Snow White comes into the picture, Maleficent feels threatened by the competition and sets out to destroy her.

“YOU MAY HOLD ONTO THE FANTASY THAT IF YOU SHORE THEM UP ENOUGH, THEY WILL EVENTUALLY GET AROUND TO TAKING CARE OF YOU, TOO. UNFORTUNATELY, MORE OFTEN THAN NOT, THIS WON’T BE THE CASE.”

In real life, narcissists need to cut down others to build themselves up. Even when you are in the glow of a new relationship, and the charm offensive is blindingly bright, watch for clues that all may not be well. If he needs to criticize others to show how grand he is by comparison, he will likely do the same to you. Besides noticing how he treats the people around him, look at his history. Is it filled with long-term friendships or littered with relationships—romantic or business—in which he has inevitably been wronged? If he easily condemns those he previously cherished, chances are that dark light will shine on you at some point, too. The narcissist who keeps himself elevated by putting down others eventually might become competitive even with you.

Narcissists hoard attention, interrupt conversations so that they can steer it back to themselves, and are more concerned with their feelings than anyone else’s. Their theme song is, “Enough about me, let’s get back to me.” If you are living with a full-fledged narcissist, you know first-hand how this can interfere with their ability to relate to you and to your kids.

“My marriage was great before we had kids. I knew that my husband needed a lot of attention, but I never realized how much, until I stopped giving it to him in the usual doses, because I was so busy caring for our baby. I could no longer be so focused on him. Our relationship got ugly fast.”

Before having children you had more energy to attend to the narcissist. Some narcissists feel threatened and jealous of the attention that you devote to your kids; other narcissists use their children to feed their ego; and others are so preoccupied with themselves that they completely neglect their kids. Of course, all of these are detrimental for a child.

“THE JOURNEY TO DISCOVERING YOUR AUTHENTIC SELF REQUIRES YOU TO GET PAINFULLY HONEST TO WORK THOUGH YOUR DISTRESSING FEELINGS.”

Disagreeing with a narcissist or working through issues is extremely difficult. In addition to their inability to see your point of view, they cannot own their stuff. Their extreme defensiveness shuts down their ability to learn, and that impinges on your ability to grow as a couple.

You may hold on to the fantasy that if you shore them up enough, they will eventually get around to taking care of you, too. Unfortunately, more often than not, this won’t be the case. But if part of life’s journey is knowing yourself, the narcissist in your life can be a great teacher. The journey to discovering your authentic self requires you to get painfully honest to work though your distressing feelings. Here are some questions that can lead you to clarity and help you figure out whether you just need more tools to cope, or you really need to extricate yourself.

TOUGH QUESTIONS

  1. Why did you pick him or her? Does she remind you of the way you were loved by one or both parents? Have you just unknowingly repeated the scene of the original crime—your own childhood? Or are you trying, with your partner, to have a happier ending than you did with your parents?
  2. Are you depressed? Swallowing anger and hiding your real self can lead to depression.
  3. Are you exhausted from tap dancing around someone’s fragility? Do your constant attempts to please him require a hyper-vigilance that is draining? Are you working to hide your partner’s volatility and fragile ego from your kids and your friends?
  4. Are you seeing things as they are, or are you making constant excuses? Try to get an honest picture of what’s going on. Don’t skew the data.
  5. Do you feel like your needs are constantly overshadowed in spite of all of your efforts to communicate them? Have things gotten so bad that you’ve stopped trying to communicate them because it feels pointless? Or is there safe space for your feelings?
  6. Are you being gaslighted? Narcissists have a tendency to deny things they said, or claim they said something else. They rewrite history. They are unaware of the impact they are having on you or others. This is crazy-making. Beware of this distortion and don’t buy into it.
  7. Does your partner have a history of healthy, intimate relationships? Or is there a long-standing pattern of unstable relationships, whether romantic, friendly, or professional? History doesn’t lie, so pay attention to it.
  8. How do you feel when you are with your partner: Separate and whole, or enmeshed and sucked in to their drama? Does being around your partner make you feel peaceful or on edge?
  9. Since living with or dating a narcissist, do you feel like you are a better version of yourself? Take a moment to compare how you feel about yourself before you met your partner, and now.

PROTECT YOURSELF

  1. ASSESS

Is this relationship worth saving? Be honest, how extreme is your partner’s narcissism—is it just a few traits, or is it more encompassing? Full-blown narcissism (see chart below) is hard to live with. A few traits can be manageable. If you choose to work on the relationship, know that at any time, the healthiest choice may be to leave.

In assessing the extent of the problem, be cautious when you see hints of a more evolved partner. Recognize whether these moments are fleeting or a bigger piece of the picture. Don’t make too much of the glimpses of improvement. Manage your expectations. The narcissist in your partner likely will not disappear. Unless there is consistent growth, decide if a sporadic connection is enough to sustain you.

  1. SET PARAMETERS FOR STAYING

If you decide to stay in the relationship, both of you must recognize the problem and the role each of you plays in perpetuating it. Also, and this is crucial, he must commit to getting professional help in working to change his behavior. In a therapist’s office, as time makes him feel safe, he can get underneath the mask of grandiosity and access his true feelings. Then, ultimately, he can learn to replace the harsh self-critique with self-compassion, which is where real healing takes place.

If your partner is a full-blown narcissist and doesn’t want to get help or work on it, this should be a deal breaker. If you’re married to a narcissist, realize that you can’t fix him. No matter how much you try, his actual healing is going to have to come from within. No amount of external shoring up will ever be enough. Don’t make fixing a narcissist your life’s work. You have a different journey, one that is more inspired than repairing your partner.

* If you’re dating someone you suspect is a narcissist, tread carefully. What makes a great date may not make a great mate.

* If the narcissist in your life is getting help, remember it may be two steps forward and one step back. Give yourself a deadline so that years don’t elapse, leaving you in a perpetually dysfunctional relationship.

* Although it is likely your narcissistic partner loves you in his own way and does give you something—for instance, he makes life exciting, he’s vivacious and flattering—in the end, his own limitations may prevent him from consistently giving you the love you need. It may be 10% his affirming you in exchange for 90% you affirming him.

  1. TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF

If progress is being made, you need to take care of you. Shore yourself up with a strong support network. Make sure that you have close friends that you feel safe enough with to share your truth—great girlfriends, a good therapist, a spiritual leader. Don’t screen the story; share it unfiltered. Speaking the truth is quite liberating.

* Learn to notice and take care of your needs, maybe for the first time.

* Set boundaries clearly, calmly, and firmly. Know where you begin and where he ends. Start small. It’s OK to not like the same movies. You don’t need to change your opinions to placate him. You may take flack for standing up for yourself. Don your invisible armor so that if he overreacts, you’re clear that it’s about him, not you.

* Work through your own anger to have empathy for the narcissist in your life. He never got what he needed, and his self-hatred is much greater than his self-love, even though it appears to be the opposite. Have massive amounts of empathy for yourself and compassion for your partner. And know that understanding him doesn’t have to mean staying in the relationship.

* Listen to your intuition, that deep place of knowing. You deserve to be happy, free, and at peace. You deserve safe and unconditional love!

WHAT’S YOUR REAL LOVE STORY?

When it comes to romance, listen to your head and your heart. In healthy partnerships, both vital organs are aligned. Good relationships free your true spirit. They allow you to exhale with ease into feeling safe and cherished. To quote one of my dearest friends, a good partnership is an “elevator.” It brings out your best self. It does not force you to bury parts of yourself. You want a partnership in which you can not only fall in love, but then stand and ultimately grow in love.

Now that is what I call happily ever after.

Robin Berman, MD, is an Associate Professor of Psychiatry at UCLA and author of “Permission to Parent: How to Raise Your Child with Love and Limits.”

CRITERIA FOR DIAGNOSING NARCISSITIC PERSONALITY DISORDER

Narcissism exists on a spectrum from a person who has a few traits to someone who meets the full criteria for a personality disorder. Full-fledged narcissism is a pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration, and lack of empathy, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by five (or more) of the following:

  1. Has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements).
  2. Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love.
  3. Believes that he or she is “special” and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions).
  4. Requires excessive admiration.
  5. Has a sense of entitlement (i.e., unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations).
  6. Is interpersonally exploitative (i.e., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends).
  7. Lacks empathy: is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others.
  8. Is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her.
  9. Shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes

From the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition, 2013

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