Manipulation, Uncategorized

This was the blog. Ifzenelse: Riding and writing to exercise mind and body and exorcise demons…

I felt so special but it’s intent was really to control me.  And he was able to – took me 7 full months to escape from the living hell I was living in. Once I was out, he started writing again, didn’t make the site private until February  2018.


I simply miss her. That’s all.

Most of the Time

I have spent the last couple days listening to music in the hopes of inspiration.  I am no poet or lyricist and so surrounding myself, immersing myself in the product of those that are is in hope of elevating my feeble skills, if only a tiny bit.  What has occurred, to be sure, is a heightened appreciation for the words assembled in transcendent and evocative ways with music that tells not complex stories simply, but often sharing simple, common experiences and feelings in ways that provide incredible depth and insights.  Truth, even when hard to accept.

This song, Most of the Time, has been on repeat for a while.  It’s given me chance to hear a truth and witness a delusion.  All the strength and all the confidence, a lie to myself today.  Perhaps just a way through the day in one piece.

[Leonard Cohen, John Lennon, Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash]

I am grateful to each today.

Gratefulness, Gratitude, Grace

Lacking in each and working hard to find and exhibit them all.

I am grateful for the distance, perspective and quiet offered at the water’s edge or in the midst of mountains.  To know when my own anxiety is highened when I don’t make the time to put myself where my heart and soul is most a home.  Flat, featureless and landlocked, the midwest terrain of my youth made it difficult to gaze further than a mile away.  Our place in the world seems more significant with the myopic knowledge that humans have near complete agency over their immediate surroundings.  Creating in me a sense of confidence unearned.  The vastness of oceans, the unforgiving wilderness amidts mountatins, the wonder and unknown of the stars provides proper context.  Better context.  Confidence is tempered by knowledge of knowledge’s limits.

“ouk imae idenai, ah mae oido” – Socrates

Why I write.

I write to not cry.
I write to laugh at myself.
I write because no one is listening.
I write to discover what I think.
I write to understand what I think.
I write to keep my sanity and to lose my mind.
I write to pause my day and not let another day proceed without reflection on what has occurred and what is to come.
I write because I get scared and committing my thoughts to paper forces me to be brave.
I write less to share than to express.
I write because my first inclination is not always my best.
I write because my insecurities are too often hidden behind confidence.
I write because I am grateful.
I write to remember.
I write to forget.

Be Kind Anyway

The title of this site is an excerpt of a quote from Mother Theresa that encourages the reader to not let others’ actions or attitudes define your actions.  To draw upon your strength to do the right things irrespective of those around you or the situation you find yourself in.  The words have resonated with me since I first heard them recited by the late Leo Buscaglia, perhaps 25 or 30 years ago, and I was reminded of them recently.  I certainly have not followed them consistently in the past but reading them now gives me renewed confidence that while the world swirls around me with all its vagaries and pain and chaos, my actions should always come from a place anchored by joy and wonder and grace.

“Good Morning Beautiful Girl”

Those are the words I uttered or wrote, or some variant of them, every morning for nearly five years.  When together, they were spoken softly in her ear as we lay next to each other in the morning, but often enough it was via text as I was traveling or we were apart in our respective homes with our kids.  It was my way of reminding her, my lover, that she was in my mind first thing every morning.  No matter the issues of the day before or the challenges facing us in the day to come, the “good morning” helped anchor each to the other.  img_8209To know that no matter what happens during the day that we can take refuge in the knowledge we are loved so deeply by our partner that we will get through whatever faces us.  We face the day together, regardless of where we are.

But the challenges we had we let get the better of us.  We crossed lines that neither of us should have crossed and that neither are ever able to take back.  We hurt each other profoundly. I have deep regret and remorse.  But remorse doesn’t fix us and we broke.  She rightly pointed to a singular element of our relationship that was a persistent issue early in our journey and everythingimg_0083 else was wonderful.  We both envisioned ourselves together when we were 80.  It was easy to imagine.  It was easy.  It was transcendent. So much so that we ought to have been able to conquer the stuff in our way.  We each have our own demons and we let them conquer us instead of being strong enough to conquer them.  I am still shocked at the reality of it all.  At the behaviors we exhibited.  How can there be any way back from things said and done on both sides?  Have I lost the love of my life?

I write because while she has been able to express, to me and anyone that will listen, whatever occurs to her to share as far as her hurt, her feelings, or my failings, my thoughts and pain have been bottled up to silently work through on my own.  Maybe deserved, but when I tried to communicate early on my words were turned against me.  When love and kindness were extended, spite and hate were sent in return.  So now the silence from me creates a void she fills with the horrible claims, false assumptions, and lashing out. It’s incredibly painful to hear hate from a person I love. I am a monster and irredeemable in her eyes.  I will be honest to myself about my failings and I, like her, have many but I am no monster.  She is in pain.  I am in pain.  We process our pain in different manners but pain is no excuse to be unkind.

I heard this song the other day and its fitting given the point we are at, from her perspective at least.  I know I have many things to improve upon, many of which I was already actively working on and making progress towards, some of which she pointed to and I avoided, some which I only discovered through the crucible of a horrible ending to our relationship.  So many things are shocking to me how it ended and it will take time, focused thought and attention on those things to truly understand what happened and why.  Whatever the results and ignoring, for a moment, the truly hurtful, harmful things she has said and done, I can confidently say she deserves a better man, whether that be me at another time and place or someone else.  She deserves someone that fills her with confidence and love and a sense of safety.  I gave her all my love, truly.  I held her tight when she didn’t feel safe, until her breathing calmed, until her heart rate slowed, until she knew that this soul holding her was hers.  What I didn’t accomplish, maybe out of neglect but never out a desire to make her untethered, was to make her feel safe.  To make her feel special.  I don’t know if I could have filled the hole, but I certainly could have done more to try.  I could have been a better man.  

If you have Spotify this following should be a full playlist.

Too often I am told I don’t understand.  I do.


Neuroscience: The shocking impact narcissistic abuse has on the brain

Narcissistic abuse is one of the worse types of psychological abuse that one person can do to another, but unfortunately, many people are stuck in these types of relationships.

Whether it’s a child and an emotionally abusive parent, or an adult with a narcissistic partner, the effect is the same—narcissistic abuse that can leave much more than just emotional damage.

Because according to recent studies, neuroscientists have discovered that long-term narcissistic abuse can lead to actual physical brain damage.

(Below we also talk about 7 ways to handle narcissistic abuse.)

Long-Term Narcissistic Abuse: Effects on the Brain

It’s common knowledge these days that consistent emotional trauma over a long period of time can cause victims to develop both PTSD and C-PTSD.

This is why anyone in a destructive relationship with a partner who cares little for the emotional well-being of their family should leave immediately, especially when children are involved.

However, some people do not take this warning too seriously, because of its emotional basis. What many fail to realize is that emotional and psychological distress is only one side of the coin that victims of long-term narcissistic abuse experience.

There is also a physical aspect of brain damage involved—when suffering consistent emotional abuse, victims experience a shrinking of the hippocampus and a swelling of the amygdala; both of these circumstances lead to devastating effects.

The hippocampus is crucial in learning and developing memories, while the amygdala is where negative emotions like shame, guilt, fear, and envy come to life.

Understanding the Hippocampus

Hippocampus is the Greek word for “seahorse”, and it is the part of the brain that Is hidden inside each temporal lobe, shaped distinctly like two seahorses.

One of the most important functions the hippocampus is responsible for is our short-term memory, which is the first step to learning. Information is first stored in short-term memory before it can be converted to permanent memory.

Without short-term memory, there can be no learning.

And damage to the hippocampus is a lot more disturbing than scientists initially thought. In a study from Stanford University and the University of New Orleans, they found that there was a strict correlation between high levels of cortisol (a hormone caused by stress) and decreased volume in the hippocampus.

The more stressed people were, the smaller their hippocampus became.

Understanding the Amygdala

The amygdala is known as the reptilian brain, because it controls our primal emotions and functions, including lust, fear, hate, as well as heart rate and breathing.

When triggered, the amygdala is where the fight or flight response is made. Narcissists keep their victims in a state where their amygdala is constantly on alert.

Eventually, these victims fall into a permanent state of anxiety or fear, with the amygdala reacting to the slightest signs of abuse.

Long after the victim has escaped the destructive relationship, they will continue to live with PTSD symptoms, increased phobias, and panic attacks, due to an enlarged amygdala that has become used to living in a state of fear. To protect themselves from their reality, these victims often use reality-bending defense mechanisms that make it easier to cope, such as:

Projection: Victims convince themselves that their narcissist abuser has positive traits and intentions such as compassion and understanding, when in reality this may not be the case

Compartmentalization: Victims focus on the positive parts of the relationship, separating them from the abusive parts and thus ignoring them

Denial: Victims end up believing that their situation is not as bad as they feel, as it is easier to live with it rather than to confront it

A Damaged Hippocampus: Crippling Everything We Know

The hippocampus is perhaps the most crucial part of the brain when it comes to knowledge and function. Everything we do, understand, read, and learn, rests solely on the hippocampus functioning properly.

This is because the brain has to create new neural pathways to learn new things, and this process occurs in the hippocampus.

But the hippocampus is damaged when the body releases cortisol, the hormone released during times of stress. Cortisol effectively attacks neurons in the hippocampus, causing it to shrink.

The amygdala is then stimulated by the cortisol, which turns our thoughts and neural activity from increasing our mental acuity to worries and stress.

When these distressing emotions are pushed to the extreme, our brain activity is pushed “beyond its zones of effectiveness”.

But remember: extended durations of average stress can be just as damaging if not worse than short-term extreme stress. Even if a narcissistic abuser never takes it “too far”, it could definitely still be causing destruction to the victim’s brain.

Rebuilding Your Hippocampus and Calming Your Amygdala

But there is always a way back to a normal functioning brain. Through certain methods like Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing therapy, or EMDR, victims exhibiting signs of PTSD can regrow 6% of their hippocampus in just a few sessions.

EMDR can also calm the amygdala at the same time, allowing your brain to react more rationally to situations.

Some other proven methods include aromatherapy and essential oils, guided meditation, acts of altruism, and Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), which is useful for normalizing biochemical short-circuiting, which is usually observed in chronic anxiety.

But the first step is ultimately the most important one: getting out of the destructive and abusive relationship. Before any progress can be made towards recovery, the victim must acknowledge the situation and accept his or her reality.

So if you’re looking for ways to deal with narcissistic abuse, check the below 7 tips:

7 Ways To Deal With Narcissistic Abuse

Image credit: Shutterstock – By Dmytro Zinkevych

Abuse in a relationship is never an easy topic. We tend to protect our partners out of love and hope that their behavior can change, even if it means sacrificing our own happiness and self-worth.

And out of all kinds of abuse, narcissistic abuse might be the most difficult to deal with.

This type of abuse isn’t just about anger or other emotions; rather, it’s about power.

This abuse can manifest at the physical, spiritual, emotional, mental, financial, and even sexual level.

And in many cases, the victim isn’t even fully aware of the abusive dynamic of their relationship.

This is because narcissists understand the art of manipulation more than most, and can convince even the most abused partners that the fault of every fight is on their hands.

Before we tackle the 7 ways to deal with narcissistic abuse, it’s crucial that we understand the wrong ways in which we think we’re handling it, but actually enabling the behavior.

Here are the most common mistakes in dealing with narcissists:

Blaming Yourself: When fighting with a narcissist, we tend to blame ourselves due to their cunning manipulation. We end up trying harder and pushing ourselves more, simply because we believe that we are the cause for all the fighting.

Threats: When pushed too far, we might threaten our abusive partner. This can backfire easily—if you don’t push through with the threat, you lose all your power.

Trying to be Understood: A narcissist will spin words to always make themselves right, even if it makes no sense at all. A loving partner won’t understand this, and will keep trying to make the narcissist understand their point of view. Here’s the truth: they understand you; they just don’t care.

Withdrawal: We give up. All the fighting takes a toll on us and we just let them win, every single time. While this saves your energy, it doesn’t save you from the situation.

Denial: We deny and excuse the abusive behavior of our partner out of love or loyalty. If you continue to enable their behavior and show them that you will keep their abuse a secret, this will only strengthen their resolve.

Instead, here are the 7 ways to effectively deal with the abuse:

1) Educate

Narcissists often do not truly understand what they are doing, because so much of it has been naturally honed their entire life.

You might be able to educate them; teach them the way you would teach a child, by being direct and explaining the consequences of their behavior.

2) Respect Your Boundaries

A narcissist will often push you just to see how far you will let him push you. They might not be fully aware of it, but in many cases, it’s not about the day-to-day fighting; it’s about power, and having the power in the relationship.

So talk to your partner: tell them what your boundaries are. They will try to cross it and they will watch what you do—if you respect your boundaries and hold them up, they’ll learn to respect you. If you don’t, it will just get worse.

3) Assert Yourself

Know what you want and fight for what you want. Being with a narcissist is a constant powerplay, and if you give up that powerplay, you give up all your own freedom in the relationship.

Fight against their power and assert your own area and needs. Use verbal put-downs that demand respect and push your mind to the forefront, such as:

“I won’t talk to you if you…”
“Maybe. I’ll consider it.”
“I don’t agree with you.”
“What did you say to me?”
“Stop or I will leave.”

4) Confront It Face First

Don’t run away from a fight; you might think you’re saving yourself from a bad night, but the narcissist will just see it as another win.

Stand up, look them in the eye and speak up. Be a fuller person and show them that they can’t drown you out with shouting and bullying.

5) Worsen Your Consequences

After you’ve set boundaries and your partner has crossed it, it’s time to show them that you’re going to stick to your consequences.

But they have to see the consequences worsen; there needs to be a gradual worsening of their punishment, so they can see that they are slowly losing you from their behavior.

6) Strategize

Remember: when you’re with a narcissist, you’re playing a constant war for power until one of you wins.

And to beat a narcissist, you have to understand the way they think—every interaction is just another battle for power.

So strategize; understand your limits, their limits, and make the most out of every interaction.

7) Know When Enough Is Enough

And finally, it’s important to know when it’s time to quit. You are a person, and your narcissist partner will do everything to convince you that you are not.

Get support, seek therapy, and figure out how to move forward with your life without your current partner involved. You don’t need to stick it out with him or her; it’s your life, and they don’t own it.

A quick message from Lachlan Brown, the founder of Hack Spirit

In 2018, the third year of Hack Spirit, I poured thousands of hours and considerable resources into creating these articles. It’s a labor of love and remains free thanks to your patronage. If you found any value in these articles, please consider supporting what I do with a donation. Your support is what helps me to continue creating more Hack Spirits articles. To make a donation, click the “donate” button below and choose between a single donation or monthly.



“Sex in my parent’s house” 2012-2013 letter












This was for 2013 – the year he took me to his parents house where his mother made sure I was not welcomed and wanted.  She told me I was just his “girlfriend” and that his ex was his “wife.”  She then made a big deal of her not being there and blamed her grandson being upset on missing his mom and was going to call her while she was in Africa.  She said things to me like that a lot.  She wanted to make sure I knew she wasn’t happy with the divorce and the new arrangement. He didn’t help matters because he lied a lot about my part in his life.  He would say these things to me but never acknowledge my existence.  He refused to post pictures of us on social media and if that wasn’t bad he would post things while I stood next to him. He would not take me to games or any other child activity because the ex wife would get upset.  He would  never admit to the real reason, instead he would just make up an excuse as to why it didn’t work out.