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A young beautiful black-haired girl dressed in a white T-shirt and white shorts lying on her side in a room on a wooden parquet in a square painted with a white paint, bending her legs in a lap and pressing them against her chest and hugging them with a hands. Top view - How To Protect Yourself When Self-Isolating With A Controlling Partner - Sandra Harewood Counselling

How To Protect Yourself When Self-Isolating With A Controlling Partner

A young beautiful black-haired girl dressed in a white T-shirt and white shorts lying on her side in a room on a wooden parquet in a square painted with a white paint, bending her legs in a lap and pressing them against her chest and hugging them with a hands. Top view - How To Protect Yourself When Self-Isolating With A Controlling Partner - Sandra Harewood Counselling

 

Home isn’t always a safe place.

And even if you do feel okay, maybe home it isn’t always a calm, peaceful place.

You’re only there because you’re worried about the impact leaving will have on the children.

Or maybe you’re there because the sums don’t add up and for financial reasons you can’t leave.

Perhaps you’ve been frightened to leave because your partner’s mental health seems fragile.

Whatever the reason, as the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic deepens and Government takes more decisive action to enforce social distancing and social isolation, you’re beginning to notice your anxiety about what this means living with this person.

You might not know whether they are narcissistically wounded. But their behaviour feels controlling and emotionally immature.

Now you’re feeling trapped and powerless while self-isolating with a controlling partner.

Trying To Control Uncertainty

These are uncertain times; nobody knows what will happen next.

What is certain is that life has changed dramatically in the last 10 days, whoever would have imagined one month ago that here in the U.K. we would see scenes we have. People are scrambling and fighting over essential food items and toilet paper with our most vulnerable in society, looking at empty shelves.

And if you’re in a relationship with a narcissistic wounded partner, you are also vulnerable.  You’re vulnerable because you know all too well that their behaviour, particularly during times of stress, is just as unpredictable as Coronavirus (COVID-19).  You’re vulnerable because the collective fear and anxiety that we are all experiencing now, on a global scale, will potentially impact your partner in a, particularly acute way.

The need to be in control of the self drives narcissistic behaviours.  Narcissistic vulnerable people do this by attempting to control their environment and others.  Controlling behaviour is their way of self-regulating and creating certainty.  To manage their fears, stress, anxiety, and vulnerability, they control others.

Therefore they will attempt to control you.

So at this time of collective anxiety regarding Coronavirus, your partner’s behaviour may be more challenging for you. The deeper their fears, the deeper the need for coercion and control.
Self-isolating with a controlling partner is not straightforward.

A Familiar Sense of Isolation

We are following the route of other European countries with more stringent isolation rules.  These lockdown measures mean unprecedented constraints on our autonomy.  Other countries have suspended public transport and force people to carry a document certifying why they are outside.

The reality is while in lockdown or self-isolation, you are likely to be spending concentrated periods with the person who is causing distress and trauma in your life.

Seemingly out of nowhere, it certainly caught me by surprise; you’re feeling cut off from the world.

This feeling might have been creeping up on you long before Coronavirus (COVID-19).

Social isolation is a standard coercive tool used by controlling people and is a form of emotional abuse.  Not only are you distanced from your friends and family, but your partner might also isolate you as a means of punishment by stonewalling or withholding.

Self-Isolating With A Controlling Partner – Cut Off From Lifelines

Maybe you haven’t noticed the isolation sneaking up on you.  But in any event, the things you did outside of the home had meaning.

Going to work might have meant an opportunity for a  sensible, calm conversation with a colleague as opposed to the familiar monologue or inevitable circular argument.  A visit to the gym might have meant a distraction from all the confusion and muddle at home.

Being part of the running club or netball team gave you companionship and a sense of value. Volunteering at the local food bank might have given you a sense of common purpose and community.  Meeting another mum at the school gate might have let you know you had shared struggles and joys.

Or maybe being away from home may just simply allow you to breathe.

Now the person you have been trying to create distance from you’re stuck with.

I get it.

So what can you do to protect yourself and keep balanced when self-isolating with a controlling partner.

Step up your self-care practices.  Self-care is crucial during this time.

7 Essential Self-Care Practices When Self-Isolating – (COVID-19)

Most of these practices are about boosting your immune system and maintaining proper cognitive function so that you are better able to discern unhealthy behaviour patterns and maintain an emotional distance.  They will also help you to manage your stress and anxiety.

1. Follow NHS Guidelines

The first step is to follow the NHS guidelines to minimise the risk of you becoming ill with Coronavirus (COVID-19).  Wash your hands regularly, catch coughs and sneezes in tissue and dispose of it.  Follow the social distancing and social isolation guidelines.

2. Eat Well & Keep Hydrated

These are stressful times.  Stress can have a dramatic effect on our digestive system and can lead to an imbalance of gut bacteria which, in turn, triggers inflammatory symptoms.

Processed food and refined sugar wear the immune system down.   Alcohol suppresses the immune system, which can predispose you to get sick.  Conversely, diets high in antioxidants and low in sugar boost the immune system and fight off viruses.  So it makes sense to cut back on coffee, sugar, and alcohol.

Optimise your digestion by upping your intake of vegetables.  Drink plenty of water as well as avoiding processed food as much as possible.  Take advantage of the opportunity to cook healthy food.

3. Sleep Well

Sleep improves the immune system.

Lack of sleep can have a detrimental effect on your mental health.  Your brain will fog, making it difficult to concentrate and make decisions.  You’ll start to feel down, and may fall asleep during the day.

As much as possible, keep a to a nighttime routine as this is especially important when you lose your routine.  You need to maintain consistency where you can, to help your body clocks stay set. Most adults need between 6 and 9 hours of sleep every night.  By working out what time you need to wake up, you can set a regular bedtime schedule.

Before bed, wind down without any screens in dim light, and set the alarm for the morning to ensure that you’re waking up at the same time each day of the week.  If you’re having trouble sleeping, get up and do something quiet and relaxing instead of tossing and turning.  Laying in bed only serves to make you more anxious in bed and can worsen insomnia.

4. Exercise

It’s essential to keep the body moving.  You can go for a walk or run while following the social isolation and social distancing rules.  Your activity could be gardening or following an online yoga or fitness class.

5. Keep In Connection With Others

When you’re self-isolating with a controlling partner keep in connection with others.  Our brains are wired for connection, and so this will make social isolation inherently tricky.  Keep in contact with work colleagues, friends and family.  If possible, start a WhatsApp group with your neighbours.  If you have a class list for your children, perhaps you can set up an online group for that.

Think of who you can keep in touch with independent of your partner.

6. Use The Time To Educate Yourself

Take the time to educate yourself about what is happening in your relationship.   Knowledge is the first step in being empowered.

Read books on what healthy relationships look like.  Check out books on the behaviours you notice in your relationship. An excellent place to start is Why Does He Do That by Lundy Bancroft.  There are many books on narcissistic behaviours, including many posts here.

Download the book so that you can read it privately on an app like Kindle or listen to an audio version.

7. Limit Your News Exposure

While it’s essential to stay informed, it is also important not to become fixated with the news.  Most news media is designed to target the emotional part of the brain.  When you see or hear alarming headlines, this will trigger a mild flight or fight response.

So while it is essential to keep informed and up to date, it is also stressful for the body.  Inevitably in a time like it’s tempting to watch the news continuously to keep up to date with the latest developments.

What you are inadvertently doing is increasing the amount of cortisol in the body which impairs your cognitive function.  This, in turn, will make it more difficult for you to remain grounded and centred in the face of your partner’s behaviour and establish an emotional distance.

Practice setting boundaries for yourself.  Set limits on when you will watch the news and for how long.  Perhaps only between 9.00 am-5.00 pm and only from a reputable news source.  When you are better able to set boundaries for yourself, you ‘ll get better with setting them with your partner.

Your Safety Comes First

If you do feel unsafe, self-isolating with a controlling partner reach out for support.

If you are worried about self-isolating because of your relationship dynamic,  please call the National Domestic Abuse Helpline on 0808 2000 247 or contact the Helpline via Refuge’s contact form at www.nationaldahelpline.org.uk. To ensure your safety, you can let us know how to contact you and what time to contact you.  You can also contact Women’s Aid who have advice on self-isolating.

In an emergency, always be ready to call 999 if you are in danger.

Over To You

Are you self-isolating with a controlling partner?  If you want a safe space to talk, figure out your feelings, get in touch, and book your first counselling appointment.   I offer video sessions online via a secure platform.  Coronavirus (COVID-19) doesn’t need to end your therapy sessions.

Or call me today on 07535 864836.

Leave a comment below; I’d love to hear from you.

P.S. PASS IT ON

Enjoyed this post? Then use the icons below to tweet it, share it on Facebook, and send it to specific friends via email.

© Sandra Harewood 2020

About Sandra

Soul Centred couples counsellor Sandra Harewood specialises in working with couples and women with childhood wounding that impacts their adult relationships. Sandra provides a soulful space for her clients to explore and discover creative solutions to their difficulties and create a great relationship.

 

Frightened woman with her arm outstretched with the word stop written on her hand. The Honest Truth About Your Partner's Anger Issues. Sandra Harewood Counselling

The Honest Truth About Your Partner’s Anger Issues

Woman with her arm outstretched with the word written on her hand. The Honest Truth About Your Partner's Anger Issues. Sandra Harewood Counselling

 

What we have called anger may be abuse – David Richo

You can usually tell when someone is angry. It’s visceral. A raised voice, trembling, fidgeting, fast speech, heavy breathing, the furrowed brow, the clenched hand or maybe flared nostrils. But equally, it can be the opposite. Silence or sudden disappearance.

Often couples come to counselling naming a problem with anger in the relationship, anticipating that better communication and anger management skills would help solve the problem of endless conflict.

The problem is, however, that abuse and anger look similar. Abuse is visceral. But equally, it can be the opposite; the cold shoulder, stonewalling or the silent treatment.

Anger is a normal, healthy human emotion. When it is an authentic form of self-expression, anger is assertive and can enrich and repair relationships.

Anger issues can, however, damage and put relationships at risk, especially in controlling or narcissistic relationships.

One Thing You Need To Know About Anger

When people conclude that anger causes abuse, they are confusing cause and effect. “[He] was not abusive because he was angry; he was angry because he was abusive”. – Lundy Bancroft

In other words, anger is a tool of abuse. It must be remembered that control in some relationships is a form of abuse.

It’s important to realise that the purpose of control is to make you small. If you become fearful of your partners’ anger and that fear stops you from speaking up, doing the things you want to do or taking care of your children, then that is a symptom of control.

It may well be true that your partner is triggered and has difficulty managing their anger. But if there is a pattern of anger for which there is no genuine accountability, no will to do something different or it is expressed no matter what the cost or hurt, then perhaps it’s not anger management that’s needed but more rather a closer look at the need to control; the need to control you.

7 Warning Signs That Those Anger Issues Are Abusive

So, while anger and abuse might look the same, there are differences. Here are 7 ways you can tell.

1. True anger is direct. Abusive anger is displaced.

When you are being direct, you speak up respectfully and say what doesn’t feel right. “Excuse me that’s not okay”, or” that’s enough” or ”that hurt me, and I’m angry about that.” No drama, just a few calm words.

How you feel about being direct is another matter. Our relationship with anger comes from our childhood experiences. How did you see your parents manage conflict? Were there slamming doors, violence or loud voices as you nervously sat in your bedroom?

Maybe there were no anger issues at all, they never argued. Perhaps, in that case, the anger was displaced. Was your dad always sleeping and disengaged or maybe your mum always seemed angry with you blaming and shaming? Or maybe you had a genuine sense that they sat down and worked things out in a respectful way.

And what about you? Can you remember your teenage self saying NO to a parent? What about stomping up to your room and throwing a pillow across it or wanting to leave the house to cool down that rage. Did you have a parent who let you be angry, validated your feelings and taught you safer, healthier ways to express them? When a child has their feelings validated, they learn to express them directly and safely.

The alternative is abusive displaced anger. This way, anger is expressed through sarcasm, lateness, revenge tactics and feigned illness. They say, “I’m not angry, but.” And displaced anger issues are directed to the wrong person because it’s easier. So your partner won’t express their anger to their boss or family member, but instead, it is misdirected towards you, situations or other people that aren’t responsible for the pain they feel.

2. Healthy anger is expressive. Abusive anger is threatening.

Some of the expressions mentioned above are normal and healthy physiological responses to anger. Others are choices. These include screaming, swearing, name-calling, threats, intimidation, demands and jokes that are intended to harm, not amuse. Perhaps your partner tells you to “shut up” or barges past you because they want to leave the room. Pushing, shoving, and breaking your personal property are all forms of physical abuse. This is abusive anger.

3. Real anger arises from injustice. Abusive anger arises from an injured ego.

Your partner is unfaithful, they’re not pulling their weight around the house, they have mistreated your children, or perhaps they are driving dangerously when you are in the car. From time to time, they lock themselves in the study for long hours absorbed with their work. These are all things that undermine your sense of safety, intimacy and connection and need to be addressed.

Abusive anger arises from a bruised ego. Your partner feels disrespected because you are paying others too much attention or you’re not taking their side when they are inappropriately disciplining the children. If you are successful at work or other people admire your intellect, your partner feels envious and slighted. You might notice their anger at such times, particularly if they are professionally struggling. Perhaps an argument occurs just before a job interview or presentation.

4. Healthy anger communicates a problem. Abusive anger silences.

Your anger is communicating something to you. When it rears, it’s letting you know that you feel hurt, betrayed, disappointed, neglected, sad, tired, stuck or scared. Additionally, anger is also a sign that a boundary has been broken and needs to be reset. It’s perfectly natural to want to communicate those things to your partner.

In contrast, abusive anger shuts communication down. Your partner may use the silent treatment to bully, blame and intimidate you until you are silenced.

5. True anger looks for accountability. Abusive anger blames.

Accountability means doing something about your behaviour so that change occurs. When you are accountable and take responsibility for your actions, there is an opportunity for personal growth and healing as well as growth in the relationship.

Apologising and then doing more of the same isn’t being accountable. Narcissistically wounded people find it difficult to say sorry and do not take responsibility for their actions. On the contrary, blame, revenge and gaslighting take centre stage.

6. Genuine anger lets go. Abusive anger holds on.

To let go doesn’t mean that you don’t express and communicate your anger. What it does mean is that you work towards resolution and closure.

Abusive anger lingers and results in resentment, hate, grudges and bitterness. What this means is that the issues you thought were resolved come back again and again. For this reason, you feel as if you are treading on eggshells as you don’t know when your partner’s anger will be triggered. Your partner holding on to anger also means that they are more likely to use gaslighting to manipulate you.

7. Healthy anger is safe. Abusive anger is out of control.

Anger management isn’t about not getting angry; it’s about containment and the appropriate expression of anger. Inevitably, that means getting to know how your anger is awakened and how it manifests in your body, as well as mind and feelings. But no-one has the authority to take away your right to be angry.

Abusive anger is often uncontained and uncontrolled with inappropriate expressions of anger. It’s characterised by loss of temper and retaliatory behaviour. You might hear, “I only did that because I was angry” or “I can’t help myself when I’m angry”’ or “you made me angry.” It doesn’t feel safe to be around someone when they are expressing anger in this way.

Out of The Fog

On reading this, you might notice that your legitimate true anger is often responded to by your partner’s abusive anger. Or maybe sometimes you feel out of control. These are all legitimate feelings when faced with abuse anger. In my next post, I’ll let you know why fear, obligation and guilt (FOG) may leave you feeling this way.

Over to You

What do you notice about your partners’ anger issues?  Are you able to express your anger issues safety? If you want to understand what your partner behaviour means and discover healthy, safe ways to respond get in touch and book your first counselling appointment.

Or call me today on 07535 864836.

Leave a comment below; I’d love to hear from you.

P.S. PASS IT ON

Enjoyed this post? Then use the icons below to tweet it, share it on Facebook and send it to specific friends via email.

*Adapted from How To Be An Adult in Love – David Richo.

© Sandra Harewood 2019

About Sandra

Soul Centred couples counsellor Sandra Harewood specialises in working with couples and single women with childhood wounding that impacts their adult relationships. Sandra provides a soulful space for her clients to explore and discover creative solutions to their difficulties and create a great relationship. 

Get my FREE guide The 7 Feelings You Have When You’re In Narcissistic Relationship + be on my list and be the first to receive my latest news, blogs & workshops for health, wellbeing and healing from narcissistic abuse.

 

Couple Gazing At Water - 5 Subtle Signs Of A Controlling Relationship That Look Like Care

5 Subtle Signs Of A Controlling Relationship That Look Like Care

Couple Gazing At Water - 9 Ways You Confuse A Controlling Relationship With Care - Sandra-Harewood-Counselling.jpg

 

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