Courage, Hope and 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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When We Give and Give and Give….

Requested Repost.

Fixer uppers are okay for cars or houses but NOT PEOPLE!

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

Copyright 2006-2018 All rights reseved.

I was watching Hot Bench and the plaintiff worked her butt off to put the defendant on his feet. When they met he had just gotten out of prison, didn’t have a job, had a suspended license. She paid bills, got him a job and a car yadda yadda. She stated she “invested in him.”

People are not stocks and bonds. We invest in those who invest in us. Unlike stocks and bonds. She was so blind to what she was doing, it was unbelievable. She even answered questions for him in the court! They asked him a question and she would answer.

Because she was now suing him over the balance of the car.
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Was Your Relationship Good For You??

10 Questions to Answer Before You Begin Again

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

Copyright 2006-2018 All Rights Reserved

Before you even think about dating or moving onto another relationship, you have to take inventory about your last relationship and figure out what worked, what didn’t and what you need to change in the future.  Ten questions to ask to figure out if your relationship was good for you and what you need to do to change it:

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This site started as a private student blog in 2006.  The students were from a course taught at the NYC Learning Annex one night a week.  It was originally intended for a dozen students.

But it went  viral after this post was published in 2007.  The workshops and seminars that were NYC-based were suddenly attended by people who traveled here JUST to go to a GPYP seminar!  The attendees asked for “the book” which did not exist at the time.   In 2009 Getting Past Your Breakup was published by  Da Capo Lifelong books (now a member of Hachette Book Group) and has remained on the Amazon Best Sellers in Divorce ever since and appears on MANY Best Breakup Books of All Time.  It was followed by the Getting Past Your Past workbook and Getting Back Out There.

There are over 3000 posts written but we limit the published posts to less than 10 percent of that. If you have a topic request, we have most likely written on it.  Please email us here to request a repost or to inquire about a topic.  GPYB still offers courses, seminars, workshops, bootcamps, etc.  Stay tuned.  Join our FB group or mailing list for information.  No spam will ever be sent!!

Thank you and welcome to the GPYB family!!

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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 legal and mental health 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.

Harassing the parent of your child is never in the best interest of your child and if someone can’t understand that, they are not fit to be a parent. You must love your children more than you hate your ex.  The PD cannot grasp that simple concept because love has nothing to do with their senseless and ceaseless diatribes.

You cannot imagine how the PD thinks because you are “normal.”  Thank goodness you escaped a lifetime of living with this, but you still have to deal with the gigantic wad of goo that appears to have infected your feet and your brain whenever you try to deal with this person. It’s a never-ending battle.

It is hard, in the face of what the PD is saying, to not explode in a string of expletives most of the time. 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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Affirmations, Visualizations, Meditation and Positive Self-Talk

As I’ve said here and in the books, I have never asked a reader or a client to do anything I haven’t done. I have never asked anyone to do anything that I didn’t do myself and know it worked. If it’s in the book, I did it. If it’s in the book, I recommended it to clients for years and years. If it’s in the book, I researched it as a graduate student. If it’s in the book, it’s tried and true and works. No matter how “New-Agey” it might sound. If it’s in the book, it’s been vetted by me over many years not just as a therapist but as a client (my apologies to hair restoration ads).

The bottom line is that I was doing affirmations in 1989 and gratitude lists in 1987 long before anyone else mentioned them. Gratitude lists are a 12 step concept that comes from the founder of Alcoholics Anonymous Bill Wilson who said in the 1930s: “A grateful heart will never drink.” and “Have an attitude of gratitude.” and was passed onto me by my therapist who made me write gratitude lists every night when I was terribly depressed over what I had lost in a separation and divorce. And the lists helped me a lot. Continue reading

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Mail. We Get Mail on Being Too Picky (i.e. Having Standards)

Another Standards Post.  This letter was send to me in 2008.  Long before GPYB was published.

Standards: We DO NOT put them to a VOTE by Susan J. Elliott, J.D., M.Ed.

Hi Susan,

I’m currently recovering from a lifetime of codependence and am about six months into my recovery. It’s such an exciting time for me, all of the puzzle pieces of my previously dysfunctional life finally fit. It’s been a huge relief finally discovering what’s been amiss all of these years and every day presents me with new and exciting opportunities to heal and grow.

Your blog has been a god-send, I read every day though I don’t post. I had something that I want to ask about because I’m having trouble discerning normal from extreme these days.

I have a close male friend, one of my better friends, but as I grow I begin to see more and more things that are just not quite right with him. For example, after returning from vacation yesterday, we went to lunch together. It had been three weeks since we’d really talked. As I was telling him a story from my vacation, he spotted an attractive lady in the restaurant. He stopped listening to me and focused all of his attention on this lady until I finally made a comment about it. This behavior is not at all unusual for him, as a matter of fact, it’s happened many times before. He sees someone he can’t keep his eyes off of and I sit there continuing to chat away as if I haven’t noticed.

For the first time, I called him out on it and told him it was rude and disrespectful. I’m not jealous that he looks at other women, I would feel the same way if I were having a meaningful conversation with a girlfriend and she were tuning me out to drool over some man in the room. The issue is that immediately after I said something, I began wondering if my reaction was too extreme. Are my expectations realistic? How do we know if we are being too picky with people?

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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

When you are entrenched in a divorce or trying to co-parent with a personality disordered (PD) ex, your life may seem upside down long after the relationship ended. That is how the narcissist or sociopath or psychopath wants it. They won’t have it ANY OTHER WAY.

It is very easy for the person who is trying to deal with a personality disordered person 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 Wisdom of Hanging In There

Sully: Hang in there.
Toby: Hang in there? That’s the sum of your wisdom on the subject?
Sully: That’s the sum of my wisdom on most subjects.
~ Nobody’s Fool (film) written by Robert Benton 1994

Sometimes the simplest advice is the best. When we don’t know what to do, we should do nothing.

When we are overwhelmed by the enormity of our tasks and the state of our lives, we should look at things one day at a time or one hour at a time or one minute at a time.

It is imperative, a lot of times, to bring the solution down to the simplest task and the smallest measure of time otherwise looking at everything will just paralyze us. Continue reading

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Would You Love Me If You Know I’d Leave You?

The 1996 photo was taken during our wedding vows. The 2007 photo was taken dancing at my son’s wedding. We looked at each other with as much, if not more love, than on our wedding day. Michael was not a dancer. I was, during the parents’ dance, more or less dragging him around the dance floor and the smirks were our private jokes about that.

But, the years between those two photos had pounded us with many adversities but we stood together through thick and thin. I went back to New York after 2 years in Texas and left Michael there to sell the house. I had no idea the house would take 2 years to sell.  We spent a lot of money, not only on my Manhattan apartment and the Texas house, but flying back and forth at least once a month. We spoke every day.  It was a difficult separation but we trusted each other completely and never argued about anything in those years.
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Recycling in Recovery

Recently I’ve received several emails with similar themes. It can be summed up in a sentence in an email I received last night that said, “I thought I was over this. I shouldn’t be feeling this way. What does it mean?”

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Recycling in Grief or What? Not Here Again!

Requested repost

Grief is a spiral. But am I going up or coming down?” ~ C.S. Lewis

I talk about recycling in GBOT because dating often triggers recycling, but so does an anniversary date, the ex’s birthday, moving into your own place, going on a trip you were supposed to go on together etc etc etc. Many things can trigger recycling.  Recycling often happens after we’ve been thinking we’re starting to get over it. It can feel very upsetting to be back “there” once again.

There is a standard body of grief and loss literature but it’s still evolving. Still, I’ve read most of it over the past 20 years or so. I’ve written countless papers and 3 college theses on grief.

One thing that researchers do agree on is that grief is a process and it can vary wildly from person to person depending on the person, the loss, the type of loss, the person’s history with grieving (or not) and environmental and social factors.
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The Pathological NARCISSIST

A person void of empathy, love or enjoyment is not someone to love

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

Copyright 2008-2018



Kernberg and Kohut are known as the “fathers” of narcissism.  As I am hard at work on my new book based on this post, I have been re-reading Dr. Kernberg and Dr. Kohut. Many of my clients have been involved with pathological narcissists and it is difficult to treat them until they understand, truly understand, what pathological narcissism is. The bottom line is that a narcissist is completely incapable of love and void of empathy. This person will never ever ever love you. Any overtures they have made that appear to be love have simply been to get you to admire them.  Yet, because they suffer from feelings of inadequacy, they actually disdain those who admire them. There is NO winning with the narcissist. 

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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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