Support Group

Thank you for stopping by.  Due to registration issues in WordPress and HostGator, we have moved the commenting to a CLOSED Facebook support group.  To join be sure to answer the questions (why you want membership and you agree to the Group Guidelines [the pinned post]).  To keep the group safe, we do not approve anyone who does not answer the questions OR who JUST joined Facebook. If you don’t want to do FB because you’re NC and FB is a trigger, email me your real name and FB profile and then the NEW FB profile so I can approve it. For more about the group, continue reading.  To go to the group:
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2/6 TFTD ~ V-day

If a couple has a healthy and strong relationship, Valentine’s Day should not be a stressor no matter what. If a person is “romance-challenged” or doesn’t know what to buy, this is something the couple should be able to talk about. A partner should be able to say, “Look, I want to do something for Valentine’s Day but I’m not sure what you would like. I’ve thought about doing a or b. Does this sound like fun?”

If a couple cannot talk about it, then there is a problem in the relationship that needs to be addressed. If one person is demanding spontaneity and surprise, maybe the surprise should be buh bye.

Talk about it. Talk about what do we, as a couple, think of V-day. Do we care? What are we doing or not doing? Does that lack surprise? Yes. But better to not be surprised than to have your mate freaking out over this.

If the stress of trying to be romantic and find the perfect gift causes harm to a relationship, then the couple has larger issues. No one should feel stressed out by this. If someone MUST be surprised and MUST have the perfect gift and if they don’t there will be trouble, the couple is in trouble anyway.

I had years where I wanted the dozen roses and why don’t I want them now? Because now I have someone who loves me 365 days a yea (366 in 2008). Back when I wanted it to be something it was because something was missing the other days. I didn’t feel loved or appreciated so give me some roses dammit. I had an ex who was a really good guy and he tried almost every Valentine’s Day that we were together to do something and nothing was ever good enough for me. Why? Because I wasn’t good enough. Because there was no gift in the entire world that could make me be okay with me…and that’s all I really wanted. And it’s something no one else can deliver.

If your mate is being unreasonable about Valentine’s Day perhaps a gift certificate for therapy should be the gift.

Love is what you do, it’s not what you say and it’s certainly not what you buy or the romance you try to conjure up one day a year. It’s NICE to be romantic and to get a nice gift but the relationship should not rise or fall on that. If someone is a romance dud or not a great gift giver, then you either accept that, help them out with it, or end the relationship.

Planning Valentine’s Day should NEVER cause stress. Valentine’s is a silly little holiday and for its importance to rise to the level of stress-inducer means there are more problems in the relationship than just Valentines Day. A healthy couple is comprised of two people who know how to pick their battles and focus on the important things and Valentine’s Day is not one of those things. If one person is so insecure or incomplete that they need some grand gesture on Vday, well therapy will help that, not some flowers.

My suggestion for all in Valentine’s Day is to celebrate together. Forgo the overpriced roses and chocolates. If you want to get a silly little gift and a card,that’s nice but don’t go crazy. I’m not even sure what the heck Valentine’s Day is all about. But don’t be stressing about it.

If dinner reservations are hard to get, go out the night before or the night after. The best Valentine’s Day for me was the one where we went to dinner the night before, he gave me a Hershey kiss (the big one) and a card and I gave him boxers with hearts all over them and a card. We both laughed and had a good time in a pretty empty restaurant. I’m sure it was packed the next night.

Valentine’s Day should not induce stress whether you are in a relationship or not. Be good to yourself and it won’t be stressful.

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Valentine’s Day after a Breakup

It’s a made up holiday, which doesn’t mean a whole lot.

Valentine’s Day is the epitome of our romantic love fantasy.  It represents all that we wish love could be and would be 365 days a year. Valentine’s Day feeds into our notion of romance…every romantic comedy, every heartfelt love song, every “We’ll always have Paris.”

But like the movies and songs, it’s a fantasy. It’s not real and it’s not going to be real. Ever.

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D-Bom Moments

The “older” group of members (from the blog) tend to use D-Bom so I thought I’d share where it comes from for the newer members:

“We see and understand more about our behaviors. We come aware. And aware. And aware. . . Often, we feel uncertain about what to do with all this awareness.” – Melody Beattie

by Susan J. Elliott, J.D., M.Ed.
Copyright 2005-2018

A friend of mine used to say that her awareness was like “Dawn finally breaking over Marblehead.”

Marblehead is a coastal Massachusetts town. I started my journey in Rhode Island, but moved to Massachusetts within a couple of years. Marblehead in MA is used often by natives as a metaphor for a thick skull…and “Dawn breaks over Marblehead” is a Massachusetts expression which means “Duh. I finally get it.”

I think it’s a terrific expression to define a defining moment, an epiphany so to speak, and when I lived there I heard it used it all the time. I started using it because it sums things up quite nicely. I now call it D-BOM (DEE BOMB) for short. I’ve used that expression a lot in the more than 20 years since I first heard it. I used to use epiphany but d-bom is so much better.

The beginnings of awareness are incredible. We start to feel as if we’ve been asleep for a million years. Suddenly we can see, really see, what other people are really up to. Whereas everything baffled us before, we now have clarity. Sometimes we feel we have too much clarity. It’s like being on a diet and losing some weight where nothing you own fits yet you are not at your goal weight yet so you have nothing to wear. It’s a feeling that you’re in an in-between stage but you need to get where you’re going and you don’t know how. GPYP/GPYB/GBOT all require observation, preparation and cultivation. We start to observe our thoughts, feelings and interactions with others. We learn to step back and look at the world around us and the people in it. Then we start to prepare to change things and later we cultivate that change.
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Becoming Who We Are Meant To Be

I wrote this post in the second week of the blog. I had no idea the blog would lead to a book and be relevant 11 years later. AND that someone in a Facebook group would ask a question about how this happens. AMAZING.

Here is an oldie but goodie from December 2006. I am posting it in its original form.

“Success means having the courage, the determination, and the will to become the person you believe you were meant to be” – George Sheehan

Each of us has a clue, somewhere deep inside, of what our life should really look like. Although there may have been a lot of setbacks, there are things we long for and things we think we would be if we were somehow born into another life, with different people, under different circumstances.

When I was a senior in high school I wanted to go onto college Continue reading

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There’s Hope after Heartbreak: 5 Things to Help You Heal

Don’t give up the day before the miracle happens

Every few months I read an article about someone who committed suicide after a breakup or a person who went on a shooting rampage after a breakup.

I urge people to spread the word that a breakup is a temporary thing and that you can get over it. Let people know that a breakup is NOT the end of the world. Then I will, inevitably, get an email from someone saying, “I’m not getting over it. I will never get over this.”

I want to address the “I’m not getting over this, I want to die.” feeling.

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Leaving The Abusive Relationship

Part 1 of 4: I Didn’t Know That I Didn’t Know

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

Copyright 2008-2018 All rights reserved

Abuse can be physical, mental, emotional, verbal and sexual. It can be but doesn’t have to be all 5. Just because someone isn’t hitting you doesn’t mean they are not abusive. Name calling is abusive, cheating is abusive. Feeling as if you’re walking on eggshells is abusive. Being put in no-win situations is abusive.

If you know someone in an abusive situation, it is imperative that you get them to understand all the things they might not know. I lost friends as a DV victim. I had people who truly cared but then were so put off when I went back.

What they didn’t know was what to tell me. These are all the things I needed to be told. Some are quite rudimentary and you would think a smart person like me would know them, but I didn’t. And chances are, if you are or know someone who is a DV victim, they don’t know them either.

I am a pretty smart person. Fairly high IQ, well-educated and born and raised in New York City. Street smart and book smart, yet I didn’t know that being a DV victim was not my fault or that it didn’t have to be that way. Not knowing is not stupidity. It’s just not knowing. Here are things to tell someone you love who might be in an abusive relationship. Abuse of any kind – physical, mental, verbal etc.

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My Relationship Ended. Now What?

How to face your loss, feel your feelings, and come out stronger than ever

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

Time does not heal all wounds. If it did, no one would have unresolved loss or be bitter years after a breakup. 

Why We Don’t Know How to “Do” Grief

If you were hurt long ago, even as a very young child, you are most likely carrying it around inside.  Every new loss triggers the old grief and, before you know it, you are awash in crippling, debilitating grief that you attribute, wholly, to the most recent loss.  For those whose most recent loss is a breakup, many times they believe that the depth of the grief signifies how much they loved their ex-partner, how they will never get over it, and how – SOMEHOW, they have to put the lost relationship back together.

When little children hurt over a loss, whether they’ve lost a cherished toy, a good friend, a family member, or a pet, well-meaning but ill-informed parents, try to take the hurt away.

They offer ice cream, a new puppy, a better toy. It’s about distract and replace.  Children get the message that showing hurt is not okay and they shut it down. They think that replacing the loss is okay.  They think that eating ice cream or going shopping is the right way to deal. Very bad habits, sometimes full-blown addictions, are formed early in life because our caretakers taught us how to deal (or not deal) with loss and our feelings about it. 

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Moving On, Letting Go & Finding “The One”

When We Don’t Share Values and Morals, It’s the Wrong Relationship

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

Several years ago I worked with a guy who was sweet, soft-spoken exceedingly polite and just all-around wonderful. He became engaged and gave his fiancée a $40,000 engagement ring and bought a very large and expensive house which was in the millions at a time when the real estate market was going bust. We were both working as attorneys at a high-powered law firm, but even for us, the price tags were incredibly extravagant. He never struck me as the type to be that materialistic. 

Then the next thing I knew it was over.

It turned out that she wanted the expensive ring and house and refused to settle for less.  In fact, she belittled him when he suggested downsizing a bit as they were just starting out in life.  She was very controlling and got upset even when he visited with his family including his mother and older brother with whom he was very close. She didn’t want him talking too much to his family. He had a twin brother and they were remarkably close (as twins tend to be) and she gave him an ultimatum where the twin was concerned. Limit his time with his brother or it was all over. 

Despite the fact that he loved her and would be ultimately saddled with both the house and the ring (he took a bath on both), he had to break it off. It was very hard for him (he doesn’t like to hurt anyone’s feelings and he is a church-going person who wrestled with the idea of calling off the wedding in front of his family and church members). When he broke it off, he felt guilty and embarrassed and experienced a very dark time immediately afterward. I didn’t know him all that well and yet he spent hours one night, at a firm event where we just happened to be seated next to each other, telling me all about it. It was obvious he was in excruciating emotional pain and that he needed to talk.

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Putting Change, Real Change, Into Your Life

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

Your ultimate goal in life is to become your best self. Your immediate goal is to get on the path that will put you there. – David Viscott


A friend of mine said, yesterday, “I’ve broken all my New Year’s resolutions already.”  I have told clients (but, obv, forgot to tell friends as they hate being lectured) for years:  a New Year’s resolution stated once, and soon forgotten about, amounts to nothing more than a wish.

Many times the resolutions are gone by February (or, in my friend’s case, the middle of January). So the new “do over” time becomes Monday. Sometimes, for some people, it’s EVERY Monday because they lost their resolve the previous Wednesday and the Wednesday before that and the Wednesday before that. And that Monday to Wednesday ping-pong becomes their “normal.” And no matter how many times they do the Monday morning diet, they do the Wednesday afternoon snack attack. And then they think, “Well, I’ll start again on Monday.” As if, by some miracle, it will be different this time.

Are you guilty of this? If so, how can you break this cycle of broken promises to yourself? The GPYB workbook contains the Goals chapter which I could not convince my publisher needed to be in GPYB or GBOT.  This is a mini -version of it:

Well there are a few keys to breaking the cycle…..

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Courage, Hope and Deciding to Change

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

Courage, it would seem, is nothing less than the power to overcome danger, misfortune, fear, injustice, while continuing to affirm inwardly that life with all its sorrows is good; that everything is meaningful even if in a sense beyond our understanding; and that there is always tomorrow. ~ Dorothy Thompson

Tough times befall most of us; some, it seems, more than others. While there is some level of self-pity in our struggle for wholeness, there cannot be too much. Self-pity will de-motivate you. No one loves me will de-motivate you and to change and grow and have a happy life, (yes HAPPY!), you have to be motivated to charge toward that life.

To overcome what has happened to us takes courage and that courage is the power to continue to believe that we are good, life is good and there is always tomorrow which will be better than today.

Trudging onward takes a lot of work sometimes and we get tired and sometimes falter. Continue reading

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Grief vs. Self-Pity

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

Copyright 2007-2018

There is a difference between self-pity and grief.  It’s just not always easy to figure it out when you’re in the throes of emotion.

Last year someone asked me to describe the difference between grief and self-pity. Not that self-pity is necessarily wrong, but too much of it will keep you VERY VERY stuck.

Listen to your words, listen to your actions. Are you grieving and saying “I hurt and this sucks”? or are you saying “Look at what you did TO ME.” Therein lies the difference. Continue reading

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The Personality Disordered Co-Parent and “The System” Part 3

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

Copyright 2007-2018

Go HERE for Part 2

Go HERE for Part 1

How professionals can help when a co-parent is out of control

It is very important for the non-PD to not argue with the PD about anything.

It is hard, in the face of what the PD is saying, to not explode in a string of expletives. Even the most mild-mannered non-PD can be tweaked to the point of losing it. That is exactly what the PD wants.  The PD is very experienced at being as master manipulator.  DO NOT ARGUE WITH ONE.  That is exactly what they want. Ignore, ignore, ignore.

It is essential that the non-PD construct as many boundaries as possible as to time, manner and content of communication.

Professionals assigned to combative couples (or “high conflict families” as they are called in certain legal circles) must learn to recognize when one person is trying to “up the ante.” Unfortunately, when the PD is stopped at just about any juncture, they have more stops on the manipulation train.

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The Personality Disordered Co-Parent and “The System” Part 2

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

Copyright 2006-2018

Ways professionals can assist those who must co-parent with a sick person

It is very easy for the non-PD to be drawn into emotionally-charged emails with the PD. PD’s are master manipulators and can suck even the most exhausted person who has sworn “never again!” into the vortex.

But non-PDs must be encouraged by their therapists, friends and family to NOT engage with the PD.  No matter what he or she says, accuses them of or how many knives they are sticking in their back and turning, DON’T ENGAGE!

Boundaries are difficult for most people. Whenever anyone sets a boundary with a boundary crasher, chances are the crasher “ups the ante” or rebels in passive aggressive ways. A boundary crasher, or even someone who isn’t used to respecting boundaries (or isn’t used to you having boundaries), will try to defy boundaries and see if the boundary is real or a line drawn in quickly shifting sand. Setting boundaries, especially new ones with old foes, is always challenging. With a disordered person, it’s extremely taxing. With PD’s it seems intolerable to them.

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The Blame Game: Help Yourself Out Of It

Dad would start blaming, as if it were important to establish once and for all who was responsible for every peccadillo.” ~ Sharon Wegscheider-Cruse (ACOA/codependency expert)

Needing someone to blame whenever something goes wrong is a hallmark of a dysfunctional family. People who want to blame others do so to shift the focus onto someone and lay the responsibility for whatever went wrong squarely at someone’s feet.

It doesn’t matter if someone really IS to blame or not (sometimes stuff happens and that is life), someone WILL be blamed.

Usually the family has elected the most culpable person to the role of black sheep. This person will be blamed whether or not they had anything to do with it or whether or not ANYONE had anything to do with it. This person will be blamed for both commissions (“you did this”) or omissions (“why didn’t you do something about this?”). It doesn’t matter. Continue reading

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

Personality Disordered Co-Parents and “The System”, Part 1
Ways professionals can assist those who must co-parent with a sick person
by Susan J. Elliott, J.D., M.Ed.
Copyright 2006-2018

This is Part One of a Three Part Series
As an attorney, a self-help author, a breakup counselor and a former psychiatric clinician, 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 (PD) ex, most usually sociopath, psychopath or narcissist. The disorder can also include some borderline personalities, abusers and some “Axis I” diagnoses such as Bipolar when it is complicated even further with features such as psychosis.

In most instances, bipolar disorder is a mood disorder and is not representative of the behaviors indicated in this article.  For the record, in very rare instances, mood disorders can have complications such as psychotic features where the person is in an altered state. Sometimes their psychosis seriously curtails their ability to control their mood disorder and they can become manipulative or extremely self-centered and irrational. This article is not, in any way, talking about people with mood disorders such as depression, bipolar, etc.

This is those who are not just 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. Continue reading

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