Transcending pain and grief

photo of Gwen Randall-Young

UNIVERSE WITHIN
by Gwen Randall-Young

Grief can be the garden of compassion. If you keep your heart open through everything, your pain can become your greatest ally in your life’s search for love and wisdom. – Rumi

Most people experience grief and pain at some time in their lives. And some have lives that are filled with grief and pain. Today, I want to talk about the pain we feel when we think we have been wronged by another.

In my practice, I often see individuals who are deeply distressed by an incident that leaves them feeling rejected or not valued. Often, they just cannot let it go. A client’s son was getting married and her sister was deeply offended that she hadn’t been invited. She was upset with my client. The fact was that the couple were paying for the wedding themselves and the parents were not given any say as to who was invited. It was not a personal rejection. It had to do with budget and the young couple wanted to include as many of their friends as possible.

I had another client who had not spoken to her son in months because he waited until early afternoon to call with Mother’s Day wishes instead of first thing in the morning. The fact that the year before her son and girlfriend had taken her along on their trip to Europe was not enough for her to see that she was important to them.

This kind of pain is self-inflicted and is likely triggering the individual’s own undervaluing of themselves. If we do not value ourselves, we will continually need confirmation from others that we are important.

Sometimes the rejection is real: a partner ends a relationship or marriage or a friend is no longer interested in keeping the friendship going. It is easy to begin tearing down the other and blaming them for our pain. Some people hold on to this perspective for years and it comes to define them.

There is an alternative. We can choose to be loving and compassionate to ourselves as we look deeply into our pain and perhaps see it may be triggering other pain we have had in our lives. Maybe, we even see a pattern. We can focus on what we can do or say to ourselves to begin the process of healing. The ‘danger’ we feel when there is a loss can lead to a recognition that we need to build our inner strength. We do have to forge a new path for ourselves and in the beginning, we may feel we do not know how to move on. We need a period of ‘incubation’ where we feel the depth of the hurt or loss. If we do not do the work to heal the pain, we will continue to be vulnerable.

Pain and grief can serve to break us open. Our compassion for others who suffer will be greater because we know what they are living through. If we transcend the bitterness and unfairness of it all, we gain a depth and wisdom we did not have before.

It may seem counterintuitive to go right into the pain, rather than trying to avoid it or numb it. Giving birth to a baby can be a struggle and it can be painful. For most, it is hard work! Giving birth to a new level of awareness can also be a struggle, but the catalyst for that struggle is often the pain. The new growth would not have occurred without it.

Gwen Randall-Young is an author and psychotherapist in private practice. For articles and information about her books, “Deep Powerful Change” hypnosis CDs and “Creating Effective Relationships” series, visit www.gwen.ca ‘Like’ Gwen on Facebook for daily inspiration.

Are you a people pleaser?

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UNIVERSE WITHIN
by Gwen Randall-Young

Care about what other people think and you will always be their prisoner.
– Lao T

When we are young, we learn that if we please others we gain their approval. If we displease them, we feel unloved. Even an infant can feel a parent’s energy when they are annoyed about having to change yet another diaper. Human infants depend on adults to keep them alive, so instinctively they will feel stress if they feel rejected.

As we grow, we learn that getting the right answer in school feels good. The teacher seems pleased. We learn to try and figure out what the teacher wants to hear and respond accordingly. Even at university, students often try to align papers with the instructor’s views.

On some level, many come to equate the displeasure of another with a failure on their part. They have failed to be what another wants them to be. Here lies the crux of a major block to authenticity and personal evolution.

Sadly, I have seen students struggle with the pressure of wanting a different career path than the one their parents envision for them. Imagine the conflict for a bright, young compassionate person who yearns to be a teacher because of their love for children, but knows it would be a huge disappointment to their parents who want their child to be a lawyer. Think of someone who abandons their love of art because they are told, “You will never make a living doing that.”

The fear of displeasing can become much stronger than the desire to please. I have worked with many mature adults who are stressed out at being controlled by their parents’ or partner’s expectations. They learn it is not okay to be their true selves.

This carries over to other areas of life as well. It manifests as a fear of displeasing others, which turns the person into a pleaser. They become trapped in a life that is stressful and unsatisfying. They cannot say no and cannot stand up for themselves when being controlled due to an intense discomfort at the thought of any confrontation.

If you cook for others, but never feed yourself, you will starve. If we live our lives for others, always doing what they want, our soul begins to starve. We lose touch with our true nature. Many in their fifties and sixties have shared they do not even know who they are.

The path to healing begins with first acknowledging the things we are doing that we do not want to be doing. It is beginning to recognize when our heart is saying “no” while our mouth is saying “yes.” It is up to us to begin to develop clear boundaries and to listen to that inner voice that is not happy with the way we have been doing things. We can blame others for being controlling, but we must recognize we are allowing it.

Standing up for ourselves can be done in a non-confrontational way. Rather than focusing on the behaviour of another or accusing them of being controlling, we just learn to speak our truth. Our truth is what we want for ourselves, not what we think of others. Speaking our truth starts with the word, “I,” not “you.” For example, “I am going to take some time for myself” is a statement that says, “I am in charge of me and I am taking care of myself.” After all, if you don’t, who will?

Gwen Randall-Young is an author and psychotherapist in private practice. For articles and information about her books, “Deep Powerful Change” hypnosis CDs and “Creating Effective Relationships” series, visit www.gwen.ca ‘Like’ Gwen on Facebook for daily inspiration.

Reinventing your life

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UNIVERSE WITHIN
by Gwen Randall-Young

Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.
– George Bernard Shaw

Perhaps your life has not gone as planned. Perhaps it did, but you are not sure that the plan is what you want anymore. Change can be hard. I often have clients that are dealing with major change and frequently the change is not of their own choosing.

What I see is that the old life, in some significant way, is gone. It may be the death of someone close, the ending of a relationship or job, a financial setback or a health crisis. In most cases, there is a longing for the return to the old life, a wish to wake up and find it was all just a dream. This is normal.

However, when the longing and resistance to change persists, over time, it prevents one from moving on. I picture it like this: you have been moved to a new house but you do not furnish it or put up pictures because you are focused on the old house and you want it back. You are not really even living in the new house, but rather merely existing. You do not plant flowers or even get to know your neighbours or the neighbourhood.

You realize you cannot go back, yet you spend time thinking of the old life, replaying memories and asking “Why,” but this leaves you sad and depressed. The only way to move forward is to look at this new house and start figuring out how you can make it a good place for you.

With big life changes, it is important to access resources. These include friends, family, helping professionals and perhaps accountants and lawyers. Recognize that so many others have been in your shoes and have survived.

You may feel you have lost a big part of yourself, but you are still here! There may be a void caused by the changes, but look at that as a blank canvas on which you can begin a new painting. What can you do with your time now that things are different?

With the busyness of modern life, many find they have lost touch with who they really are. It is easy to get so wrapped up in the context of our lives that we lose touch with who we are at the core of our being.

Think of the things you once liked to do. Are there books you simply have not had the time to read?
Is there music you love, but somewhere along the way stopped listening to it? Are their friends or family you have not seen in a long time? Many of them would be delighted to re-establish contact with you. Are there things you have always wanted to try but never did? A new interest, hobby or activity can invest you with a lot of new energy.

Yes, some things will never be the same, but that is true of all of life: everything changes. It is okay to look back now and then, but keep your eyes open to what is in front of you. Be in the moment rather than in the past. Notice nature, the sky, the earth and the stars. Feel your breathing and the beat of your heart. You are alive. You need to live.

Remember the words of Max Ehrmann: “You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.”

Gwen Randall-Young is an author and psychotherapist in private practice. For articles and information about her books, “Deep Powerful Change” hypnosis CDs and “Creating Effective Relationships” series, visit www.gwen.ca ‘Like’ Gwen on Facebook for daily inspiration.

Starting over after a relationship ends

photo of Gwen Randall-Young

UNIVERSE WITHIN
by Gwen Randall-Young

We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us. – Joseph Campbell

When a relationship ends, it does feel like starting over. It is much harder if you did not want the relationship to end, but even if you knew it was time, there can still be pain and a period of readjustment.

There is a sense of loss, not only of the partner, but a loss of the future that had been planned, envisioned or assumed. There is a time of deconstruction, a process of coming apart. There may be grief, anger, hurt, disappointment and sometimes a sense of betrayal. If the ending comes as a shock, it can leave one in a state of confusion. If one’s life was totally wrapped up with another’s, it can be hard to think about what the future will look like.

In coming to an acceptance of what is happening, one may go through the stages of grief Elisabeth Kubler-Ross outlines: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. The stages can occur in any order. We can cycle through them, thinking we are through one stage, but then go back or remain stuck in one of them.

In order for healing to happen, we have to give ourselves time to grieve and to experience the stages mentioned above. We cannot heal, however, if we become stuck in one of the stages. I have had situations where clients cannot accept a partner does not want to stay or has moved on with another. They will say the partner is not well; something is wrong with them because they would never do this if they were in their right mind.

When the denial lifts and it all seems real, the one being left may try to convince the other that things will be different. He or she may make promises to change behaviours, habits or attitudes that have created problems in the relationship. And, yes, clearly I believe there is a place for positive change and individual or relationship counselling. However, here we are talking about when one partner in the couple has decided it is really over.

With that realization often comes anger. This is based on pain, of course. There is anger because it cannot be fixed; the other won’t even try or they have already moved on. When bargaining does not work and the door is closed, depression often sets in. There may be remorse about one’s own part in the demise of the relationship. Now that it is over, the one who is grieving may see for the first time how much of their own self they compromised. They may realize how hard they worked on the relationship and how little understanding or commitment was shown by the other.

Then it is time to accept and move on. Some reflection on where it all went wrong is natural and important. However, becoming obsessed about it, focusing on how one was victimized or how unfair it all is will only serve to keep one stuck in the past.

What is needed is to begin to deal with the things we have to do. It may mean learning how to do things we did not do before. It means reaching out for support. One step at a time is the goal and there may be a lot of stumbling at first.

Just remember how many others have made this same difficult journey and survived. You will too.

Gwen Randall-Young is an author and psychotherapist in private practice. For more articles and information about her books, “Deep Powerful Change” hypnosis CDs and “Creating Effective Relationships” series, visit www.gwen.ca. Like Gwen on Facebook for daily inspiration.

The high cost of a lie

photo of Gwen Randall-Young

UNIVERSE WITHIN
by Gwen Randall-Young

Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted with important matters. – Albert Einstein

I had an interesting experience recently that got me thinking about honesty and integrity. I called a local nail salon late afternoon on a Saturday to make a Sunday appointment. I was actually trying to google the number of my regular salon when this new one popped up. It was a little closer to home so I thought I would give it a try as the web page looked pretty good.

I booked the appointment and the lady called me right back. She asked me to bring cash explaining, “My bank is closed on Sunday.” Of course I was puzzled and did not want to make an extra trip to a banking machine. I told her I did not have cash and she said,” Okay this time, but next time bring cash.”

When I arrived the next day, she was very friendly and put a lot of energy into promoting her business. She had just finished doing pedicures for a young couple in a long-distance relationship. He was returning to the US later in the day and his girlfriend had treated him to his first ever pedicure. She wanted to do something nice on his last day here.

When they went to pay, she said “cash only.” The woman did not have the cash and became quite flustered. She offered her Mastercard only to be told they don’t take Mastercard. In the end, the guy ended up paying with his Visa while the woman assured him she would pay him back. It was a very awkward ending to what was meant to be a special time.

I felt very uncomfortable witnessing this. Then, with a bright smile, she came to me and began my pedicure. She explained why her salon was different from others and how she was so much more conscientious about keeping nails healthy. In fact, she did an excellent job. So good, in fact, that I thought of switching salons. When it came time to pay, she accepted my Visa, but reminded me, “Next time cash.”

As I returned home, something weighed heavily on my mind. Each time I looked at my lovely nails, I could only think of how she lied to me right from the start. I thought about how bubbly the woman was about treating her boyfriend and how the whole cash business soured their experience.

I won’t be going back. I wonder how many others have never returned having seen or sensed this side, which is ego driven and out of integrity.

Years ago, I knew a woman who was into online dating. She was in her late forties or early fifties. She was beautiful, intelligent and good company. She looked somewhat younger than her years so she posted her age as somewhat less that her actual age.

She may have shaved off a bit too much because the man asked her how old she really was. When she told him, the first date was over. He said, “If you lied to me about that, what else will you lie about?”

Both women lost out on opportunities that could have been good in the long run. Perhaps people think others cannot see through their lies. Even if they are fooled, the relationship is still based on lies. If we lie to another, we are disrespecting them and ourselves. A lie is a manipulation of another to serve our own ends. It can never be a win/win. It is always a lose/lose.

Gwen Randall-Young is an author and psychotherapist in private practice. For articles and information about her books, “Deep Powerful Change” hypnosis CDs and “Creating Effective Relationships” series, visit www.gwen.ca ‘Like’ Gwen on Facebook for daily inspiration.

Live and love the life you have

photo of Gwen Randall-Young

UNIVERSE WITHIN
by Gwen Randall-Young

We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us.

– Joseph CampbellSometimes, it seems to me that unhappiness or dissatisfaction with life is the gap between what we have and what we wish we had.

Our culture emphasizes setting goals and striving for what we want. The marketplace is driven by the push for more and better. Fashions change so we must buy new clothes every season. Every year, there is a new smartphone so we must upgrade even though last year’s works perfectly well.

My mother grew up during the depression and her motto was “reuse and recycle” long before the critical mass of consciousness made it a way of life. Those who have lived with scarcity see value in even the most insignificant things.

My grandmother, whose parents brought her here from Ukraine when she was but 13, had a mantra I heard over and over: “The most important things to have are your health and your education.” In her mind, if you had those, you could take care of yourself and be happy.

Somewhere along the way, life for many ceased being about what we needed in order to survive. Gradually, it seems that what once were “wants” are now needs in our culture.

Not everyone can have all their wants fulfilled. For those whose life is spent striving to fulfill those wants and to achieve the life they have pictured in their minds, there is a belief that when they achieve all of that they will be happy.

The problem with this is that there will always be more things to want. And things change. The perfect partner turns out to be something else altogether. Even a good person can leave the relationship or die. Job layoffs can drastically change one’s financial situation.

Life is too tenuous for us to rest our sense of peace or contentment on external circumstances. We must create that within ourselves. We do this by being mindful of what is in our life, rather than what is missing. We also do this by not expecting that our lives will be perfect. We accept that yes, there will be pain and loss. It happens for everyone.

There can be a shift from a focus on “What do I need?” to “How can I be a positive force in all of the lives I touch, if only briefly?” Our own pain, struggles and disappointments can make us more compassionate towards others.

When our lives do not go as planned, that does not have to be a source of sadness. It means the illusion we formed in our minds was not real and there is another path for us. It’s like we lost the script we had written for our lives and now we must ad lib.

Ad libbing can be both challenging and fun. It allows us to be spontaneous, in the moment, and able to respond to what is right in front of us, rather than to some idea in our mind. We become more authentic. If there is no script, we can make it up as we go along.

We can release attachments and respond to change, rather than resisting it. This relieves us of much self-created suffering. Our lives become lighter and we feel more freedom.

We can choose for a moment, or a lifetime, to let go of the struggle and embrace the joy.

Gwen Randall-Young is an author and psychotherapist in private practice. For articles and information about her books, “Deep Powerful Change” hypnosis CDs and “Creating Effective Relationships” series, visit www.gwen.ca ‘Like’ Gwen on Facebook for daily inspiration.

Where do we go from here?

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UNIVERSE WITHIN
by Gwen Randall-Young

At one time we had wisdom, but little knowledge. Now, we have a great deal of knowledge, but do we have enough wisdom to deal with that knowledge?
– Jonas Salk

A number of months ago, there was a story in the news about a family who lost their lives in a cottage fire. I felt sad about this tragedy as I do whenever I hear such stories. A couple of days after the family was identified, I received an email from my daughter saying the father was one of her husband’s best friends. The couple had been at their wedding in May and my daughter and her husband had spent time in that very cottage in August. It was a beautiful family; a successful couple both involved with and contributing to their community.

Suddenly, it was no longer just a news story and I tried not to think about their last moments. What a horrific shock to friends, family and their community. Now that I had a context for the news story, the sadness would not go away. It kept replaying in my mind. It was no longer like a photograph; it was now a streaming video. I I felt the weight of the pain and loss that was touching so many. Some wounds never really heal.

I then began thinking of all the scenes I had witnessed around the destruction in Syria. Parents losing children, children losing parents, families losing everything. I always felt compassion, but I wanted to turn away because it was so horrible for them. In war-torn countries, the pain is constant and ongoing; those deaths are not accidents. It is humans intentionally taking the lives of other humans. Like the loss of that Canadian family multiplied hundreds of thousands of times.

Has the world gone mad? Why can’t we do anything to stop it? Is the dark side of humanity getting darker? There is no cosmic parent who is going to step in and admonish the species to stop fighting and just get along.

The answer may lie in quantum theory: the notion that we (and everything else) are part of a gigantic energy field. What happens in one part affects the other parts no matter how far away and disconnected they may be. What is playing out on a global level is just a magnified version of what plays out in relationships and communities.


Inner engineering


The ego motivations are the same: the desire to win, to overpower, to have more and the inability to see things from another’s perspective, to transcend differences and work together to find solutions.

Back in the ‘70s, Jonas Salk wrote a book called The Survival of the Wisest. Wisdom here meant collaboration, cooperation and finding win/win solutions as opposed to aggressiveness and force. In my book, Growing Into Soul, I write that transcending ego and embracing wisdom is the next step in human evolution. Salk spoke in terms of counter-evolutionary and pro-evolutionary thoughts and behaviour.

Sadly, it seems we are seeing more and more counter-evolutionary behaviour in our world. The only solution is to begin, at the individual level, to act and speak wisely and model pro-evolutionary behaviour to our children and those around us. If an electron can alter the spin of another, though very far away, we can alter our “spin” and so influence the whole energy field in which we exist.

Gwen Randall-Young is an author and psychotherapist in private practice. For articles and information about her books, “Deep Powerful Change” hypnosis CDs and “Creating Effective Relationships” series, visit www.gwen.ca ‘Like’ Gwen on Facebook for daily inspiration.

Is it my partner or is it me?

photo of Gwen Randall-Young

UNIVERSE WITHIN
by Gwen Randall-Young

Projection makes the whole world a replica of our own unknown face.
– Carl Jung

Projection in relationships is the tendency to disown qualities we don’t like in ourselves and see them in others instead. It is a subconscious defence mechanism, meaning we are not even aware we are doing it.

A man who finds himself attracted to other women, but has not fully admitted it to himself, may accuse his partner of being unfaithful. A woman may accuse her partner of having anger issues, unaware that her anger issues are just as significant.

This is a destructive process as we are certain the problems in the relationship are the partner’s fault. If you find yourself blaming your partner for what you are thinking or feeling, or for how you are reacting, you are likely projecting your issues onto them.

If you feel you are projecting, the next time you are triggered by your partner consider the part of you that is like them. If you complain your partner is disorganized, maybe there are some aspects of your life that are not as organized as you would like and you are bothered by that. When we can see how our partner is triggering our own issues, we no longer judge so harshly.

Try to stay with your feelings when you are triggered. Do not react or push back. This will not be easy because you will be feeling pain, but the pain is coming from emotional pain you have denied.

It can feel like craziness if your partner is accusing you of the very things you know are true about him/her. Our first impulse is to defend ourselves and point out that he, too, has the qualities he is attributing to you. Resist this urge.

Instead, quietly disengage. Take some space and don’t get sucked in to the old pattern of fighting about it. Be compassionate and supportive to yourself and recognize it is not about you.

Here is the hardest part. Do not argue, defend, explain or counter attack. You will get entangled in the craziness if you do. Because you have attacked them, your partner does not have to own their stuff. They will defend or counter-attack and the downward cycle starts again.

It gets even more complicated when we add co-dependency into the mix. If one has low self-esteem and feels the partner is responsible for making her feel good, valued, beautiful and smart, she will react with strong emotions when she is not getting that from him.

In co-dependency, there is a tendency to manipulate others to get what you want or to blame them for your feelings of inadequacy or unhappiness. The reason couples get stuck in negative feelings is because both are being triggered and neither one is taking responsibility for making themselves feel strong, good and worthy.

In some ways, it is even more difficult when one person is able to look inside and self-reflect and is not projecting or co-dependent, while the other is. It can be so difficult to navigate through this, as the one projecting cannot see the other in a good light. It is as if they are having a bad dream and they see you as the antagonist.

If you find yourself stuck in this dilemma, it is time to find a good therapist. You can also download an MP3 on Codependency and Projection at gwen.ca

Gwen Randall-Young is an author and psychotherapist in private practice. For articles and information about her books, “Deep Powerful Change” hypnosis CDs and “Creating Effective Relationships” series, visit www.gwen.ca ‘Like’ Gwen on Facebook for daily inspiration.

The real measure of self-growth

photo of Gwen Randall-Young

UNIVERSE WITHIN
by Gwen Randall-Young

Your visions will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes. – C.G. Jung

When we say, “This is who I am,” what does it really mean? We have our own perceptions of who we are, but they can be biased, affected by a critical eye through which we see ourselves or by the blind spots that prevent us from seeing our own unconscious motivations or reactions.

Further, we are not discrete entities unto ourselves. We always exist in relation to something or someone: our jobs, nature, where we live, sunlight, parents, children, partners, friends, political parties, groups. The list is endless.

We also may react differently to different people and situations. We may show anger and polarity with a partner or child, but show only kindness and gentleness to a grandmother or best friend.

Naturally, most of us like to define ourselves by who we are when we are at our best. However, there may be times when we come from a less evolved place – times when we go into polarity, anger, judgment and even shaming.

Generally, we justify our behaviour by the fact that the object of our disdain somehow deserves it. We may see them as “less than” us. We can also do this in relationships when we think we are right and the other is wrong. Still, everyone deserves the right to be heard and to express their opinion.

It seems ubiquitous in our world that these polarities are formed and played out at every level – from the neighbourhood to the international scene – and they seem to arise when we do not see others as our equals.

You may say, “But we are not all equal!” Some are smarter, prettier, have more wealth, more athletic ability, more fame or are even more evolved. This is not what equality is about. Seeing others as our equal means seeing they are just as important as we are, and to understand we are all at different places in our circumstances, growth and awareness. We do not see a kindergarten student as less equal – in this sense – than a university student.

In terms of personal growth or spirituality, some are at a kindergarten level and some at a post-doctoral level. We need not judge this level of growth any more than we would judge someone’s academic level. Yes, some are more advanced, but that does not make them better than one who is just struggling to survive, much less grow.

We may not be aware of the ways we speak to or act towards others that come from a place of superiority. If we find ourselves criticizing, judging or gossiping, we are really making them “less than” us, making it easier to simply discount them.

Evolving takes work. It is more than reading about spirituality or attending workshops. It is being aware of situations or circumstances where our ego is driving the process. A client who was excited about her spiritual path once spoke of how evolved she was becoming, but had a husband who “just didn’t get it!” and rolled her eyes for emphasis.

The measure of our growth and evolvement is not how many workshops we have attended. It is what we do in our most challenging moments and how we treat others day-to-day.

Gwen Randall-Young is an author and psychotherapist in private practice. For articles and information about her books, “Deep Powerful Change” hypnosis CDs and “Creating Effective Relationships” series, visit www.gwen.ca ‘Like’ Gwen on Facebook for daily inspiration.

Leaving a bad relationship

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UNIVERSE WITHIN
by Gwen Randall-Young

What makes them stay in a bad relationship? Often, they may not have felt loved and secure in childhood and are not used to being valued.

by Gwen Randall-Young

Sometimes, it’s better to end something and try to start something new than imprison yourself in hoping for the impossible. – Karen Salmansohn

Over the years, I have worked with many women in bad relationships. Often, the previous relationship was bad too and it took her a long time to leave. I am not talking about relationships that have their struggles but are still okay; I am referring to ones in which the woman is disrespected and emotionally or physically abused. It seems women can more easily leave a physically abusive relationship. What makes them stay? Often, they may not have felt loved and secure in childhood and are not used to being valued. They may have low self-esteem and when criticized or put down, they second-guess themselves into thinking maybe he’s right. They may not truly love themselves and only feel valued when someone likes or loves them.

This can lay the groundwork for a Cinderella story. She meets someone and falls in love. The feeling of being in love is so powerful it blinds her to any character flaws. He is in love with her too, so wants to impress her. He wants to show he is way better than her last partner. Both put their best foot forward. It is perfect or almost perfect.

He feels like her prince and she his princess. They share visions of living happily ever after. This feeling is intoxicating, an emotional high.

Over time, they both begin to fall off of their pedestals. They start seeing things they do not like. When they try to talk about it, they fight. The coach is slowly transforming into a pumpkin.

They are now coming down from the high they shared in the beginning. They see that the other is not all he/she seemed in the beginning. They trigger more negative behaviours in each other and they both feel they were duped. They are angry that the wonderful loving feeling they had before is now elusive. They take out their anger and disappointment on each other.

Their behaviour continues to deteriorate and now the relationship is more about struggle than about joy. A guy may simply walk away or he may begin to attack and denigrate her. A strong woman will take herself out of the situation once the behaviour becomes abusive.

A less confident woman, or one who needs to feel loved to be whole, will try to “fix” the relationship even though the partner continues to berate her and blame her for everything. She will try to reason with him, defend herself or just keep quiet so as not to anger him. Slowly, she loses herself, often becoming very depressed.

Even if they break up or she knows she should leave, she continues holding on, looking for that little sign of the love she once thought was there. She does not want to let go just in case ­the pumpkin turns back into a coach.

It never was a coach. It was a pumpkin all along. Sure, in all relationships, the romance can become less intense, but in good ones, even when the flames turn into embers, they still provide light, warmth and comfort.

Women must learn to love and honour themselves – to neither be abusive nor allow themselves to be abused. We tell children to stay away from bullies. As adults, we must have the strength and courage to do that too.

Gwen Randall-Young is an author and psychotherapist in private practice. For articles and information about her books, “Deep Powerful Change” hypnosis CDs and “Creating Effective Relationships” series, visit www.gwen.ca and also Like Gwen on Facebook.