Support Group

Thank you for stopping by. If you are reading the book and found your way here, we have moved the commenting section of the blog to a CLOSED Facebook support group which is a strong, tightly-knit support group.  New posts will appear here regularly, but to join in discussion or just read from like-minded people, join the FB group.
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“You Complete Me” or “Why I Need to Get a Life”

Live your own life to find someone who is a true, supportive partner  

Copyright © Susan J. Elliott, J.D., M.Ed. 

When we’re incomplete, we’re always searching for somebody to complete us. When, after a few years or a few months of a relationship, we find that we’re still unfulfilled, we blame our partners and take up with somebody more promising. This can go on and on until we admit that while a partner can add sweet dimensions to our lives, we, each of us, are responsible for our own fulfillment. Nobody else can provide it for us, and to believe otherwise is to delude ourselves dangerously and to program for eventual failure every relationship we enter. ~ Tom Robbins

I’ve said over and over that in order to find the right person, you need to BE the right person.  No one else should complete you.  They should COMPLEMENT you.

A healthy person finds independence and completeness of another to be wildly attractive.  Many people would think why would two people who were each complete and happy in their own life, partner up with someone similarly situated?  Because secure in your own skin and complete in your own life is good, and complementary with a partner who can help carry the load is really good.

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The Original Leaving the Abusive Relationship

This post has been pulled apart and made into parts of other posts and had a few different versions.  Someone reminded me of this post tonight, and I thought I’d rerun it. I originally wrote it in 2007 a year before Michael got sick.  There still may be some references to him and our relationship in there.

I’ve changed a few references to Michael that were in the present tense, but may have missed some, but the point is that you CAN leave abusive relationships and get happy and whole and find REAL love with a REAL person who will not abuse you and who will treat you wonderfully every single day. Michael was always in an annoyingly happy mood. When I asked him once why (as I was having a complete sh&t storm of a day and in a foul mood), he said that every day he woke up and I was in the world, was a good day.

He was absolutely serious about it as he treated me EXACTLY that way, as if I was an incredibly special person who made the world a better place. And it took me years to develop the attitude that I deserved to be treated that way and believe that a person like that existed…but he did…which is why–when he got sick–I turned myself inside out to provide as much comfort and joy and peace as he could possibly get while being terminally ill.) But I found REAL LOVE after abusive relationships…and you (or someone you love) can too. You can read my story in the introduction to GPYB and our story in the back of GBOT and our story on RopeBurns and my story on the GPYP YouTube Channel. (for links to any of those, go HERE.)

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Mean Lady Talking Podcast Episode 38

In this episode we are talking about not knowing that we didn’t know. And how we beat ourselves up for something we couldn’t possibly know. We get mixed signals from someone, we base our impression of them on our own frames of reference, and we know NOTHING about disordered or extremely dysfunctional behavior so we go along rather oblivious.  Then we beat ourselves up when we do get clued in.  That is NOT the way to do it.  Gentle listeners: BE GENTLE WITH YOU!

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Mean Lady Talking Podcast Episode 37

In our Season 2 inaugural episode, we’re going to bring you through looking at dating through a new lens.  Thinking about how to say what you mean and mean what you say and what to do when you have no idea at all. Making new decisions in your life by learning from past mistakes.  For the media player OR to find the link to the podcast on your favorite platform, click on continue reading —>  Continue reading

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Building Your Own Life

Way back when I wrote this post and followed it with the second post.  FOr those afraid to get out and build your life, I hope this is some kind of inspiration.

Post 1:

There is more to us than we know. If we can be made to see it, perhaps for the rest of our lives we will be unwilling to settle for less. ~ Kurt Hahn

When we discover who we are and all the riches we contain (or as Walt Whitman said, the multiples we contain) we understand the depth of our goodness and we refuse to settle for less than we deserve.

The way OUT of garbage and INTO goodness is to recognize our own self-worth, to affirm that we are good and deserve good things and to treat ourselves with dignity and respect. Continue reading

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If You’re the Family Outsider, Give Yourself A Hand!

by Susan J. Elliott, J.D., M.Ed.

Copyright © Susan J. Elliott All Rights Reserved

If you cannot get rid of the family skeleton, you may as well make it dance.~ George Bernard Shaw

The Road to Sanity Starts with Insanity

Sometimes we are the family skeleton, the black sheep, the shame of the clan.  Many times it’s because the clan is as dysfunctional as the day is long. If you don’t belong in a family like that, you might come to realize how lucky you are. But many times it’s a rough road from being the family skeleton to being a happy and healthy individual. But you can do it. In fact, being the family skeleton, the black sheep, the shame of the clan, actually gives you a head start.

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Replaced by the Ex in a Very Public Way?

Time to #GetOverIt!

by Susan J. Elliott, J.D., M.Ed.

Copyright © Susan J. Elliott

Time for a rerun.

Someone in the Facebook group mentioned the anxiety surrounding when the ex starts to date and being replaced.  Time for a rerun of this!

One of the most common questions I receive every single month since I started writing my blog in 2006 is, “My ex has moved on so fast, what do I do?” Since the advent of social media, it has gotten so much worse.  It seems the “replacing” behavior is now very public. Now it has become, “My ex has replaced me in a very public (social media) way.  What do I do?” 

In the Getting Past Your Breakup book I ask, “Does it hurt when you do that?” and if the answer is “Yes.” Then the response is “Don’t do that.”

The other thing I hear, a lot, is “It’s not about (Facebook, Instagram, Snap Chat, whatever the hell, the ex, the ex’s new partner)…” and when I hear that, I usually say, “Chances are, yes it is.  That is exactly what it is about.”  If you’re being slammed by your ex’s social media posts, it’s time to detox from social media until such a time when you can handle it. It’s time to block the ex and (temporarily) any mutual friends.  If you can’t do that, it’s time to get off social media altogether. Continue reading

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Gratitude, Support Groups & Getting Better

gratitudeJohn F. Kennedy once said that as we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.

M. Scott Peck said that love is an action.

Both love and gratitude are actions. It doesn’t matter what you say, it matters what you DO. Every year I post the YouTube video HERE for my readers on gratitude and I was touched, and grateful, for both the public and private response to it. I am always humbled by being in a position to give even one person a small ray of hope, especially on a difficult day like a holiday. We may be fine before the holiday, but holidays and anniversaries and birthdays can trigger all kinds of unexpected sadness and anxiety.

My life would not be possible without others who helped me during those very bleak and dark days when I was depressed, anxious, borderline suicidal and feeling hopeless.

I remember driving down the road and the only way to avoid driving the car into a wall was to keep chanting, as tears streamed down my face, “I am a child of God and God loves me.” Someone gave me that to say when I was sitting in a therapist’s waiting room and my hands were physically shaking. This man, someone I didn’t know and had never met, turned to me and said, “Just remember, you are a child of God and God loves you.”

He said it in this sweet and kind voice, almost a whisper, that was incredibly soothing. I wasn’t even sure if it was true or even if there was a God but I held onto it, and I said it like a mantra whenever I didn’t think I could go on another minute.  Many of the techniques I’ve taught over the years – affirmations, mantras, acceptance statement, “even though” statements are in the workbook.  And in that dark moment, before anyone taught me anything, I held onto that mantra like it was the only lifeline I had.  At the time it was.  But I learned the importance of all of them.

I see the amazing healing that takes place in GPYB boot camps, seminars and workshops. The healing comes from the willingness to do the work, to support each other and the feeling that you don’t have to do this alone.  Because you know what? YOU DON’T!  There is an amazing transformation that I am honored to witness when my groups share with each other. Wonderful healing takes place.

I’ve told the following story when I’ve done speaking engagements and in seminars and on the blog. It’s a story that really has stayed with me all these years.
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Annual Responsibility to the World Community Post

Thou shalt not be a victim. Thou shalt not be a perpetrator. Above all, thou shalt not be a bystander. -Sign in the Holocaust Museum, Washington DC

handsI’ve posted this every January for the past 5 years. It’s a rather long post, but I believe it’s an important one and, by writing it and re-writing it once a year, I try to impress upon others how helping others heals your own soul in a way that nothing else can. So if you’re bored, lonely, heartbroken, tired or just restless and feel as if the whole world has someone and you don’t, do some research to see the many causes and organizations who can use your help this year. It will help you feel grateful and being of use to others is to heal faster. As I always say, I never ask my readers or clients to do anything I haven’t done or don’t do, and I know this is a soul-filling opportunity when you extend your hand to others who need it.

As 2019 dawns, it is apparent that no matter where you live or what you believe in, we have work to do and I believe that part of your healing process must include volunteer work and commitment to others.

But even if you don’t want to be involved in major happenings or formal organizations, there is probably someone in your own life who could use some help and encouragement. Just saying, “It will be okay.” or being active in a group and encouraging others, even if it’s to say, “I feel very similar to how you feel.” it’s important to let others know they are not alone and others get where they are. One of the most important part of my initial healing was that there were terms for the way I was feeling (fear of abandonment, grief, unresolved loss) and if there were words for it then others had it too and if others had it too maybe there was a way out. And there was. Sometimes just HEARING that someone identifies with you can mean so much. Can make you feel so less alone.

I am a fairly active participant in charities, causes and rescue organizations. As a former DV victim, I’ve always worked in the area of Domestic Violence and have the GPYB scholarship program and book matching programs for DV shelters (If you don’t know what that is, if you send a book to a DV shelter or organization I match it for either that organization or another of your choosing). I’ve done legal pro bono work for DV victims, for Hurricane Katrina victims, Hurricane Sandy, immigration and others.  Continue reading

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Personality Disordered Co-Parents and “The System” Part 1

Ways legal and mental health professionals can assist those who must co-parent with a sick person

by Susan J. Elliott, J.D., M.Ed.
Copyright © 2016-2018

This is Part One of a Three Part Series

Links to Parts 2 and 3 are at the bottom

There are three main points to this series:  

  1. how people with personality disorders (PD) (narcissists, sociopaths) or extremely dysfunctional/abusive natures are manipulating the communication tools used in family law and in family therapy;
  2. how “professionals” – both legal professionals and mental health professionals – are failing the families they are tasked to help by being sucked in by the PD and;
  3. how to help non-PD clients communicate with and set boundaries for the PD ex.

When PDs land in social services or in court, I have seen too many unskilled professionals – assigned to assist these high conflict individuals – making the situation worse. This is the first of a 3 part article suggesting how to make the situation better for all involved.

I can clearly see, in my clients and readers, the frustration and despair that comes from trying to deal and co-parent with a personality disordered ex (DSM Axis II, cluster B – most usually sociopath, psychopath or narcissist.)  Most people with many of the Axis II, Cluster B personality disorders are never officially diagnosed, so looking for that diagnosis before believing someone is personality disordered is going to be a waste of time.

This series is about those who are not defined only by the DSM Axis II diagnosis.  Instead, for this article, they are defined as extremely unhealthy, toxic, self-centered, manipulative individuals whose life goal seems to revolve around making other people miserable. Their ruse is one of long-suffering victim and caring parent, when nothing could be further from the truth.

As a therapist, a former psychiatric clinician, and attorney, I have been asked – more and more these days – to consult as a “divorce coach” which brings my expertise in all these fields to bear.  What that means is that I am not the person’s divorce/custody/legal attorney nor am I that person’s main therapist (though I sometimes can be).  What I do is work with a client and sometimes a client’s lawyers and/or therapists (and sometimes many more players, guardian ad litems, mediators, child protection services, social services, housing court), when that client’s ex or soon-to-be-ex is personality disordered and appears to be “gaming” the system.
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Holidays and Happiness

christmas“If we’d stop trying to be happy we could have a pretty good time.” – Edith Wharton

The holidays tend to push someone else’s idea of happiness upon us. We are told this is the “most wonderful time of the year” and half the time we can’t figure out why that is.

What we are told and what we feel about it are often two different things. We feel stressed, hurried, broke and on edge. Continue reading

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Reconciliation: A Means or an End?

Reconciliationby Susan J. Elliott, J.D., M.Ed.

Copyright @ Susan J. Elliott

“The only hope is no hope.” ~ George Costanza

Most of the time we don’t talk about reconciliations. I find that there is a small percentage of couples who can successfully reconcile. Maybe there are therapists somewhere that have a high rate of reconciliations that work out, but I have not personally experienced that. Couple dynamics can be changed and recharted through couples counseling but it’s an intense (and usually long) process. I find, a lot of times, “confused” couples attempt the most number of reconcilations. Either one or both are confused about the relationship (it’s usually both but one partner is “doing” confusion for both…not confused people do not stay with confused people.)
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Holidays and me-all year round

huckleberryHolidays.  They are fraught with excitement and then there is all the expectation that we are HAPPY and when we are not, we feel as if we, not the world, has failed.

By Susan J. Elliott, J.D., M.Ed. 

After a VERY bumpy beginning, things had been going well that fall and I wasn’t prepared to be as sad as I was the closer we got to Christmas. On Christmas Eve most people left work at noon, but I straggled out around 3 p.m.

I remember driving home on a deserted highway. The day was grey and the landscape seemed cold and grim. It seemed (in my mind) that the whole world was locked away somewhere hugging, caroling, and drinking egg nog, around the tree, under the lights…far far away from the dreary day. It was all playing out in some fantasy in my head. Some idea we all have of a happy holiday, whether put there by movies or Christmas specials or cards or commercialism or Clement Moore or even some long-ago memory of a happier, magical time.

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The Annual Post-Breakup Holidays Post


“I cannot believe I’m alone on Christmas Eve.” – me (first holidays post-separation)

This blog started on November 29, 2006. This post below was one of the first posts and received ASTOUNDING responses from around the globe! I post it every year in it’s original – unedited form. Hope it helps.

I had wanted to separate in September of the previous year but his, “Think about the holidays….” made me back off that decision.

We had always made a big deal of the holidays – we were the type to buy Christmas ornaments in July (yes, the very same people I hate now).  We had huge Christmases and we wanted that to continue for the kids.

So I held off…my anger in September, the gaslighting incident in August…all went away as “stuff” I was holding onto as we moved into Halloween and Thanksgiving.BUT  a new set of suspicions came about in December….RIGHT before Christmas….he un-invited me to his job’s Christmas party – as his group of friends (all women and one gay man) decided spouses weren’t invited to this year’s Christmas party.

I went but knew something was up with one of the women in the group – but I couldn’t figure out who.  It’s the spidey sense of those spouses who have experienced infidelity.  You “knew” when it’s raising its head AGAIN. In December and January, I felt like such a fool.

My job had layoffs mid-January and all hell broke loose leading us to separate the beginning of February.

February 10th. I was anxious and depressed and upset through most of February and March. He was being open about his relationship with a woman he worked with. In fact, he introduced our poor, confused children to her and her children less than six weeks after we’d parted.

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