Tag Archives: devalue

How to Make Yourself Fall Out of Love

Ever been in love with someone you knew was bad for you, but couldn’t help yourself?

Cluster B’s have a tendency to idealize and devalue others. When I have idealized someone they can virtually do no wrong.

Even, and sometimes especially, if they are treating me poorly, it can be hard for me to let go. I see only the good in them, and have a tendency to internalize their bad or hurtful behavior as some fault of my own. I am defective. Unlovable. That’s why they are treating me so poorly.

At times like these my old friend, Devalue, would be really handy to have around. But I can’t control the devaluation process. Devaluing for me, is like falling out of love — it just happens.

Worse, I have a tendency to devalue those who treat me well, and exalt those who mistreat me. I think, if they love me, there must be something wrong with them.

Or, they are trying to manipulate me.

A couple of weeks ago, someone in one of my Cluster B groups mentioned the DBT Peer Connections series on YouTube. I finally got around to checking it out and found it helpful.

The series consists of 23 episodes, ranging in length from 3 minutes to 2 hours. So, it’s a time investment. But from what I’ve seen so far, it’s worth it.

In this video (below), she talks about using the DBT skill, “Opposite Action” for emotional regulation, and goes through a series of emotions including jealousy, anger, shame, guilt and even love. DBT Opposite Action Love.png

This was the first time I had seen love covered as an unhealthy emotion that requires regulation. But for a lot of us, it is.

When love doesn’t fit the facts, when the person doesn’t deserve our love or admiration, there are things we can do to change our feelings — we don’t have to be slaves to unhealthy emotions.

She gets to love at 18:00, but the entire video is worth a watch. I identified with needing help on all of the emotions, especially anger.

DBT Peer Connections Ep 4c – Emotion Regulation Opposite Action

Hobbies are Grade-A supply

Throughout my life, I have gone through periods where I get obsessively excited about something and it takes center stage in my life, usually hobbies or learning new skills.

I will throw myself into learning every possible thing about it. This usually follows a period of dysphoria and extreme boredom. I’ve had love affairs with pottery, refinishing furniture, cake decorating, politics, party planning, and the list goes on.

I once learned to make my own beauty products. I enjoyed it so much I started an Etsy shop to sell them. It took a while for it to get off the ground. Not only did I have to make the products, but I had to design the packaging, network with other shop owners, advertise on social media, research new and interesting trends in the market.

It became a full time job (figuratively). But I loved it and it was paying off. I was finally growing my customer base and starting to establish a real following and reputation. I had repeat customers that really liked my products and bought them over and over again.

And that’s when the inevitable happened: I got bored. It no longer provided the excitement it once did. It just became another responsibility. A chore. I closed the store one day without much notice and never reopened it, leaving my customers in the lurch.

I treated my love affair with my hobbies like so many cluster B’s treat relationships – idealize, devalue, discard. Once I master a new skill or a hobby, it’s no longer exciting to me. I’ve conquered it. It no longer captivates my interest. The feedback (supply) I get isn’t as valuable.

And then I’d be back on the prowl for a new hobby. Something I could throw myself into again.

During these off periods between hobbies, I’d feel boredom and long for something new to capture my interest, trying thing after thing. But I could never tell what it would be until the very moment I’d stumble upon something that would ignite that spark in me again.

I think the initial enthusiasm I feel for my hobbies is similar to the love-bombing we do in relationships: You’re genuinely over-the-moon excited about this new person you’ve found this rare spark with, you want to learn everything about them and be with them all the time. They captivate you. Until they don’t. And you’re genuinely sad because you had such high hopes that this one would work out long term.

Before starting recovery, I never realized that these hobbies were a source of supply. Mastering something new so quickly and effectively told me I was smart, capable, creative and superior to others who couldn’t pick things up as quickly and easily as I could. It made me feel special and unique. Sharing my hobbies with people and having them like it told me I was valuable and worthwhile and offered gratification when they gave me approval. Adding yet another skill to my list made me a more interesting person – it gave me something to impress others with at parties.

And there’s a genuine upside to it. I am good at a lot of random, interesting skills and hobbies. And that really does make me a more well-rounded, interesting person, which is pretty cool. I never know when I’ll get to use these old skills again in surprising ways.

And when this idealizing happens to align with my career – as it did for me during college and immediately after – I wildly excelled professionally. This enthusiasm translates into an intense drive to succeed, which can be a great thing. After all, some level of narcissism is healthy and required for those who become the very best at what they do.

The problem is that I would become completely self-absorbed during these times. My love affairs with hobbies left no room for anything else – namely my family which would be put on the back burner or shut out completely.

The best way I can describe my state of mind during these periods is that it is akin to anxiety. I became anxious and obsessive. My mind felt cloudy – the only thing I could see clearly was my new interest, while everything else fell into the periphery. I had trouble focusing and controlling my thoughts.

It also left me jumping from thing to thing without any stability. I felt erratic. While I’d learn a lot about a bunch of different things, I’d never really attain that “expert” status – I didn’t stick around long enough. I always wished I could find something I loved that could continuously make me happy long-term.

As I continue in my recovery I often come across something that makes me feel in an old and familiar way. When I’m feeling like the “old me” I try to stop myself and think about what I’m doing, how I’m feeling and what I think the root cause of this feeling or behavior is.

The more I learn about my disorder and my own personal motivations behind my repeat behaviors, these things become easier to recognize and deal with.

Just recently I realized I have been doing it with this very blog. Being able to recognize that early on, identify a pattern and pinpoint my motivations makes me feel like I’m making real progress. I had never put all this together until now.

And that’s a major step I don’t want to downplay. But to continue to grow, I have to learn how to actually balance my interests with the rest of my life – and enjoy something without making it the focus of my entire world or a source of supply.

The cat conundrum

Being self-aware, I sometimes seriously wonder how I have any friends left at all and want to call each one and thank them for sticking it out with me. I actually did that not too long ago with my best friend.

I asked her why she remained friends with me when so many others didn’t. She had to think about it for a really long time. She didn’t have an answer for me for a few weeks.

She said deep down she knew I was genuinely a good person. I think it also helped that her mom is NPD too – but not high enough up on the spectrum so that my friend became disordered herself or has a really bad relationship with her. So, she kind of gets it.

She is kind of low empathy too though. I think that helped us bond. She can say stuff to me that she can’t say to anyone else, like how she secretly wishes her cat would die already. I can relate. I’ve had my own cat for nearly 10 years and it’s getting tedious.

Ten years ago, a cat was a great idea for me! And I “loved” that cat! Until I had kids. Then the cat became another chore – one that woke up the baby I worked so hard to put down. So now, not so much. Also, I felt like I only had so much room in my heart for love and now that I had a child, the cat didn’t cut it anymore. This was a big fear of mine when my second child was born too. How would I divide what little love I had between the two of them? I can see now how some narcs unwittingly scapegoat one child and overvalue the other.

But alas, I’m stuck. The kids would wonder what happened if the cat disappeared one day or we gave her away. That can’t be a good lesson to teach them: when those we “love” get boring or require too much back from us, we just dump them. I’m supposed to love my cat.

As I’m writing this, I literally just realized I idealized and devalued the cat, now I’m ready for the discard. Didn’t really think I did that. Wow, guess I do.

No, I pretty much have to keep faking it until she naturally dies. Damn it.

Not only that, but I really do need to be nicer to her. The kids have picked up on my disdain and I really want them to develop true feelings of love for animals. I really don’t want my kids to end up like me.

The good thing is that the more I try to be empathetic toward the cat the easier it gets. I’m not joking! I think, how does it make her feel that no one ever pets her? That every time she tries to get close to us we push her away and tell her she’s annoying? I put myself in the cat’s proverbial shoes. Then I feel more compelled to give her some affection. Baby steps.

I asked my therapist about this too. Sometimes I have to do that – get a reality check from someone else: exactly how abnormal is this thought?

She said her cat annoys her too and they kind of also just tolerate it (relief), but she doesn’t necessarily want it to die (oops). I guess I took that one a step too far.

My deeper concern is, why don’t I love my cat? It scares me. I sometimes wonder if I actually love anyone or anything at all. This is what low empathy feels like.

That’s why I sometimes visit r/sociopath. That group attracts lots of low empathy types, not just those with ASPD, but people with autism, etc. I never knew this was a problem for them too.

Sociopaths also really understand what makes people tick. People generally really like them because they know how to make others feel good (when they want to). And being as clueless as I have been about that, I learn a lot from them about human nature and how to fit in better socially.

Anyway, these folks recognize they have no or low empathy, whereas most narcissists don’t. It can be kind of refreshing just to talk to other people who understand that feeling.

At least until my empathy grows to a point where I don’t feel this way anymore. And it is growing. It’s just taking time.