You Dont Need Him To Be Whole

Vladislav Muslakov

I know you think you need him. You think you need to hear his heartbeat every night in order to fall asleep. You think you need to see his smile every day in order to feel like this life is worth living for. You think you need his arms around you, in order to feel safe and appreciated.

But the truth is, all you need is you.

I know you’re rolling your eyes now. I can see it, because I would have done the exact same thing. I know you’re about to stop reading this. You’re about to scoff at these words, with your hands on your hips, laughing at my daftness. But I have been there. Trust me.

I have been so deeply in love it felt like a lifeline. An addiction. Like this world wasn’t a world without him in mine. He was my breathing tube. My oxygen. My nutrients. My muscles. He was my days and nights, my darkness and my light.

He ruled my world. But that’s where I went wrong. It was my world. It was my life. It was my universe. Not his.

He was the daydream that turned into my reality. He was the thing from fairytales and story books that I used to giggle at, dumbfounded that a girl needed a man to save her. I was never going to be like, I told myself. I was strong enough, to not need anyone.

But then he came into my world and turned it into a sun. And he came into my universe and turned it into a galaxy. I was just like you. Hopelessly in love. So addicted to the feeling of him against my body. So overwhelmed with the safety I felt when his hand was wrapped in mine. I was so intoxicated by the bliss, that I forget how to be on my own. I forgot how to be me, by myself. I forgot how to be my own human being.

And that was my downfall.

Before he walked into my heart, I was me. I was Lauren. I didn’t need anyone but my friends and my family. I slept soundly at night by myself in my twin sized bed. I had everything that I had always known. But when I felt myself falling for him, I had no idea who I was anymore. I was just his girl. And I would have died happy being that.

When it ended, I had lost my sense of identity. He was always smarter than me, a better talker, a better musician, a better human being. I didn’t have what he had. I didn’t have that kind of charisma.

I thought I had nothing without him. And I honestly thought I was nothing.

But little by little, I reunited with friends I had ignored since my ex had been in my life. I learned to laugh, without him laughing beside me. I learned how to smile, without glancing over to make sure he was smiling too. I learned how to be me, without him.

It wasn’t easy. This kind of ordeal is never easy. But it’s not impossible.

If you would have told me that I would ever be happy without him five years ago, I would have laughed in your face. I would have told you that you were crazy. That he was all I needed. That we would be together forever.

But, here I am. Years later. Happier. By myself. Owning myself. Knowing and learning more about myself. Laughing. And smiling.

I smile without him now. You can too. 

Read more: https://thoughtcatalog.com/lauren-jarvis-gibson/2018/01/you-dont-need-him-to-be-whole/

Murray’s brother-in-law reaches South Pole

Image copyright Antarctic Gurkha
Image caption Scott Sears arrived at the South Pole on Christmas Day

Tennis star Andy Murray’s brother-in-law believes he has become the youngest person to reach the South Pole solo.

Scott Sears, a lieutenant in the First Battalion Royal Gurkha Rifles, pulled a sled and supplies for 38 days through 150mph winds in temperatures of -50c.

His 702-mile trek ended at the South Pole on Christmas Day, more than 12 days sooner than he had anticipated.

The Guinness Book of Records has yet to confirm whether the 27-year-old’s feat will make it into the record books.

Lt Sears, from east London, is the brother of Murray’s wife, Kim.

From a family of tennis players, he played the sport on the international circuit until the age of 19. Several years later, he went on to join the Army.

‘Not one more step’

The first part of the journey from Hercules Inlet where sea ice meets land in Antarctica is considered the most dangerous part, as the ground is riddled with crevasses.

Travelling alone meant Lt Sears was not roped up to a teammate who could stop him falling down them, and he used skis to cross the ice instead.

In a blog post from his five-week expedition, he described unexpectedly hitting a wall with just 38km (24 miles) to go on Christmas Eve, his penultimate day.

“I couldn’t have asked for better weather but well and truly hit a wall midway through the day,” he wrote.

“I’ve never experienced anything like it, I would take a couple of steps and just stop, everything was just saying ‘no more, not one more step’.

“It was bizarre as I’ve genuinely been feeling pretty good.”

But after some juice, biltong, chocolate and music on his iPod, he was back on his way.

That night, Lt Sears hung his socks up as makeshift stockings, but said he feared Santa might give them a miss because of the “state and stench” of them.

The following day, he reached the pole in blue skies, and wrote saying he was “absolutely chuffed to pieces”.

He told the Daily Telegraph on Tuesday that he expected it would take a few weeks for the experience to sink in.

“I’ve been alone in a tent for nearly six weeks so it’s all a bit overwhelming,” he said.

“I can’t wait to have a shower and get some food in me. I’ve been dreaming about it since day three!”

Image copyright PA
Image caption Scott Sears with his sister, Kim

Judy Murray, Andy’s mother, congratulated him, tweeting: “Well done Scott Sears – (brother of Andys wife Kim) youngest person to reach the South Pole on a solo mission. Got there on Christmas Day……”

Lt Sears has raised more than £33,500 for the Gurkha Welfare Trust to help rebuild schools in Gorkha, Nepal, which was destroyed in the 2015 earthquake.

Read more: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-42491607

He Just Wanted What Was Best For Me

God & Man

When we met, he told me how much he adored me for being so ambitious, so independent.

“You’re not like other girls. You’re so smart and strong. You’ve accomplished so much. I can actually have a conversation with you!”

I was young and I didn’t know that men who said things like this, were not men you should have around. I brushed it off because he was right. I was smart and strong, and his opinions about me didn’t matter to me. He was a witty law undergrad, and he made me laugh. I enjoyed his company. Pretty soon we were dating.

I continued being the girl he claimed to adore, only a more extreme version. I steamed ahead with my own successes, while emotionally supporting him as he quit his job to pursue his dreams. We talked about building a future together. I helped him start his dream business, a box gym, and having been a strategist at one of the biggest global gym chains, I was able to talk him through the process, step by step. Having spent much of my career coming up with names for businesses, I did the same for him. I built his brand, developed his strategy. I held him while he sobbed at night over the erratic nature of entrepreneur-life, comforted him through the fickle nature of customer retention, pulled out charts and graphs to show him that this was a predictable part of the startup phase.

“Nobody turns profits immediately,” I reassured him. “It’s going to be okay.”

I took control of the parts of the business he couldn’t, often without him knowing, because I didn’t want him to stress out further. Because I had experience that he didn’t. Because he was childlike and fragile, despite his muscle and brawn, and I wanted to protect him.

Because I wanted what was best for him.

But I wasn’t super woman. I was working a full-time job, writing books at night, maintaining my own part-time business, pursuing my own dreams. The macro- and micro-managing took its toll on me. At some point, I suggested he take over the parts of his business I was handling, or make me a partner in it. Like a strong, accomplished woman would do.

He got angry.

“I didn’t ask you to help with any of it,” he snapped.

This was the first time I felt reality tilt. I distinctly remembered him asking me to come up with a name for his gym, to find a designer to design his logo, to set up his website. Because he had never had a proper job or bank account, we ran all his digital ads through my credit card. My address was listed as the primary address on all his email servers, his Google alerts, his business and search ratings. To this day, six years post our break up, they still are. Why?

We’d been in his car when he said it. It was a sweltering summer’s day, and we were turning into Strand Street near the Cathedral in Cape Town. I was busy putting the exchange servers for his email into his phone.

“Is it working now?” he asked.

“Yes. It’s working.”

“Thank you so much,” he replied. “I don’t know what I’d do without you, my lioness.”

That’s what he used to call me. Lioness.

On another occasion, he would interrupt me while I was at work with a phone call.

“How do I get a sign made in the shape of our logo?”

It would take me an hour to tell him which printers to go to. To ask for something called a ‘die-cut’. To choose a light wood, so that it could be mounted. I reminded him of his Pantone, so that his colors would all match up.

“Thank you, my lioness. I don’t know what I’d do without you.”

After that day, when I’d asked him for some help, some acknowledgment, he started distancing himself from me. I would hear from his friends that he’d say, “She’s just not much of a homemaker. She’s a little bit… crazy.”

He was right. I was too busy running half his business, as well as my own. Winning awards, writing a book that would go on to get four and five star reviews. Managing his emotions.

It left little time to care too much about cushions and vases. And honestly? It was making me a bit mad. I would collapse on weekends, exhausted.

“Why do you sleep so much?” he’d ask. “Are you depressed?”

Sometimes I wondered if we occupied the same reality.

He came from a wealthy family. His father had bought him his first home, and hired an interior designer to decorate it. He’d never worked three jobs. He’d never really had a proper job, to be fair. I was sympathetic. He just didn’t understand, I told myself.

I cried. A lot. Mostly on my own, but sometimes I’d cry in front of him.

“Why are you so emotional?” he started saying.

“You really shouldn’t drink that much Coke Light.”

“You look ridiculous in those glasses.”

“Are you really wearing those pants?”

He’d look at my body in a bikini, push his lips to one side.

I was tiny. Shrinking. Inside and out.

So small, I’d stopped questioning what was going on.

So small, I’d started believing him.

He in turn, got bigger every day, pushing heavier weights, downing Creatine protein shakes, obsessively staring at himself in mirrors.

“Maybe if I stop eating avo I can cut some calories…?” I mumbled.

But he’d tuned out, absorbed in his phone, editing pictures of himself. Choosing a filter for Instagram that would make his abs look the most cut.

“You should really stop posting pictures of yourself on the internet,” he said to me at some point. “You’re starting to look a bit vain.”

One night, on a weekend trip to attend the wedding of close friends, we were eating dinner, and he finished his food before me. Suddenly he stormed out of the room, slamming plates, doors.

“What’s wrong?” I asked, concerned. “Are you okay?”

I didn’t finish my dinner. I got into bed and stared back of his head. I hated myself for chewing so loudly that I’d pushed away the man I loved.

I resolved to chew softer. To be quieter.

I started speaking less and running excessively.

Ten kilometers became twelve. Thirteen. Fourteen. Fifteen.

Twice a week became three, four, five.

“Running doesn’t make you thin,” he said. “Only strength training makes you thin.”

I’d been a runner long before I met him. Exercise had been a source of joy for me, a way for me to reconnect with my body.

“But I run because I love it.”

He’d snorted.

“Might as well not bother.”

At home, I would stare at myself in the mirror.

I’d spent much of my life dealing with body issues and eating disorders, something running had soothed and solved. Had it all been a waste of time? At lunches with his family, I’d stare at his sister’s shoulder blades, poking out of her skin like coat hangers; a tiny, delicate pterodactyl in Country Road dresses.

“Men actually find strong women sexy,” he’d say, directly contradicting himself.

His sister would peck at her food, pushing it around her plate.

“Are you really going to have another piece of cake?” he’d say to me.

I began dissociating, detaching from the endless emotional push and pull.

“I just want to help you. I just want what’s best for you,” he’d say.

I believed him. I needed help. Faced with the apparent disaster that was me, I’d cry.

I’d cry and cry and cry.

“I think you should see a psychologist,” he said. “It’s clear that you have problems. You have pain you need to deal with.”

At this point, I believed him. The pain was real.

I went to a psychologist, who told me that he was toxic, his behavior controlling. This wasn’t what I wanted to hear, though. I was the problem, I explained. So I stopped going to the psychologist. But my boyfriend did not like this.

“You really need to sort yourself out,” he said. “It’s those friends of yours, they’re a bad influence.”

I’d long lost the will to argue. I began seeing my best friend in secret.

“I’m glad you’re not hanging out with her anymore. Let’s face it, she’s a slut. You know I’m only saying this because I love you, right? Because I’m concerned for you.”

“I know,” I said, through tears. “I know.”

My gran died a month before her 99th birthday.

He didn’t come with me to the funeral. He went to gym, instead.

“I’m going for a new PB today,” he’d texted me that morning. “I’ll let you know how it goes.”

When I called him on my way home, I asked if he could help me carry a chair I’d retrieved from her room in the retirement village, a keepsake by which to remember her.

He was waiting outside my apartment when I returned.

“I smashed the workout!” he said. “Record time. How was the funeral?”

I can’t remember what I said. What do you say?

When we got inside, I opened the balcony door so my cat could go outside. He stepped out and found an ashtray. I’d smoked a joint a few nights earlier, with my now secret bestie, trying to ease my grief. Trying to sleep better. Trying to get by. What happened next is a blur.

He erupted into a rage. He smashed the ashtray, pushed open the door, stormed out of the house.

He yelled something, I can’t remember what. I remember feeling fear; physical, emotional. There was swearing. I tugged at his arms, he shrugged me off. I stood in front of his car as he tried to drive away. He revved his engine, me sprawled across the bonnet.

“Just talk to me,” I pleaded.

We were that couple. Neighbours peered out of their windows. After he drove away, he refused to take my calls for two weeks. When he finally did, he was the one sitting crying in my lounge.

“I don’t think I can do this,” he said. “I feel like I’ve been chosen, by God. Like, this gym is my calling. I need to focus on it.”

And just like that, I realized I wasn’t the crazy person.

He still runs his gym. The other day I saw he put up a post, thanking everyone who’d helped him get to where he is. My name isn’t listed there. Like so many women who’ve built the careers of men, I’d been erased.

It’s okay. I doubt he did it maliciously.

He probably just wanted what was best for me.

Read more: https://thoughtcatalog.com/alexandra-van-tonder/2017/12/he-just-wanted-what-was-best-for-me/

30 Self-Care Resolutions To Make Before The New Year Starts

Hermes Rivera

1. Challenges are good for you — you learn a lot more about yourself when you overcome them. Accept not everything will be easy or straightforward.

2. Share your happiness with everyone around you. Encourage those you love to do the same with you.

3. Take the time to observe before reacting. It will make a huge difference.

4. Don’t make too many self-regulating goals at once. Take it slow. If you want to be healthier, spend less money, and find a job that will make you happier — prioritize them and then target them one at a time. Once you focus on one thing, everything else will start falling into place.

5. If you feel surrounded by people who pressure you into behaviors you want to cut out of your life in the new year, you need to distance yourself from these people too.

6. Limit your time and energy to only those who will help be a better person.

7. Go outside of your comfort zone. You feel a greater sense of confidence and self-esteem when you accomplish things (even really tiny things) that are outside of your norm.

8. Make goals for the day, for the week, for the whole month, and then for the whole next year. Make them manageable and concise, and don’t look to others to see what they’re trying to accomplish. These are just for you.

9. Change the language you use to talk about yourself. If you find yourself beating yourself up over tiny things, take a step back and reevaluate how you’re treating yourself. Say your thoughts out loud — if you’d never say those words to a loved one, change it into something honest, but still constructive.

10. You will be disappointed. And anyone who isn’t there for you during your wins should be cut out of your life.

11. Feel what you feel. Suppressing your feelings will only cause them to resurface at a more stressful or inconvenient time. Process your feelings whenever you need to.

12. Ask for help AND ask for what you want, always.

13. Spend a couple minutes a day paying mindful attention to your body. Take three deep breaths and breathe into your abdomen.

14. Re-read a book or re-watch a movie you love. Studies have shown that re-experiencing something as simple as a really good book or a funny movie can help soothe nerves and alleviate your anxiety.

15. You don’t have to process everything that’s going on in the world at once. Twitter/the internet makes it very easy to feel overwhelmed and like you’re drowning. You’re allowed to unplug and take your time.

16. Let go of your grudges. They are holding you back, even if you don’t realize it.

17. If you can, forgive the people you’re holding a grudge against. Acknowledge to yourself that you’ve been hurt and that you feel angry. Work through it slowly and methodically. Set yourself free from these feelings of resentment.

18. Take a moment to reevaluate everything that didn’t necessarily go your way this past year. It will be hard, but in order to move on you need to analyze your past productively in order to move forward.

19. Remember: You do not need to go out and drink every night.

20. Remember: You will feel worse if you sit alone at home every night. Find balance in your social life.

21. If you don’t have one already, spend time figuring out a creative outlet for yourself. Whether it’s writing in your free time, filling in those adult coloring books, or learning how to knit. Something to challenge another part of your brain.

22. Keep track of the compliments other people give to you. Write them down, screenshot sweet texts, etc. Re-read them when you’re feeling low.

23. If you have problems with procrastination, start out with writing your to-do list down on paper. Tackle the things that are time sensitive first. After, move on to the ones you really dread taking care of. Finish with simple tasks that aren’t a burden, things like: “Take a shower” or “Eat dinner.”

24. Begin holding yourself more accountable.

25. Start saying “no” to things without feeling compelled to follow up with an excuse or explanation. If you’re serious about wanting to prioritize important things in your life, you need to become comfortable with the idea that “no” is sometimes all that needs to be said.

26. Become more aware of what triggers your stress. When you feel your anxiety coming on, analyze your surroundings. Start recording your environment and state of mind when you feel overwhelmed. Are there any consistencies?

27. Take more control over the direction your life is headed in. If you feel like you’re just floating by, go out of your way to start doing things that matter to you. Start small and then work your way up to bigger goals.

28. Stop spending money on physical items and start spending it on experiences.

29. Understand that if this year has been rough, there’s still a chance to turn it around. But don’t put too much pressure on yourself to change everything at once — start with the most pressing issues you’re dealing with and pick away at them. Soon your current problems won’t seem that daunting.

30. Don’t feel overwhelmed if you feel like you can’t accomplish all of these resolutions in the new year. Take it slow. Pick out which ones matter the most to you. The important thing is to care of yourself first.

Read more: https://thoughtcatalog.com/january-nelson/2017/12/30-self-care-resolutions-to-make-before-the-new-year-starts/

The Invisible War Zone: 5 Ways Children Of Narcissistic Parents Self-Destruct In Adulthood

“Adverse childhood experiences are the single greatest unaddressed public health threat facing our nation today.” – Dr. Robert Block, MD, former President of the American Academy of Pediatrics
God & Man

Much of society associates the terms “trauma” and “PTSD” with war veterans. Yet we forget about the children who grow up in war zones at home, who suffer psychological scarring at vulnerable developmental stages of their lives. Neglect, mistreatment, abandonment and/or any form of sexual, emotional and physical abuse (such as the type imposed by toxic, narcissistic parents) have been proven by research such as the Adverse Childhood Experiences study to leave an impact that is destructive and long-lasting.

As trauma expert Bessel van Der Kolk, author of notes, our brains can literally be rewired for fear when it comes to childhood abuse. Studies have confirmed that parental verbal aggression has an impact on key areas of the brain related to learning, memory, decision-making and emotional regulation (Choi et. al, 2009; Teicher, 2009). Childhood trauma can affect our impulse control, increase our likelihood of substance abuse, shape the way we examine our environment for threats, and leaves us exposed to a plethora of health problems in adulthood (Bremner, 2006; Shin et. al, 2006).

According to researchers, early childhood trauma can affect our brains in the following ways:

  • Our amygdala, which controls our fight/flight response, emotional regulation, and our moods, becomes hyperactive and enlarged as a result of trauma. We can become extremely emotionally responsive and hypervigilant to potential threats in our environment due to trauma.
  • Our hippocampus, the part of our brain that deals with learning and memory, shrinks. This makes integrating traumatic memories a lot less effective. The traumatic impact of those memories remain a great deal more impactful.
  • Trauma can inhibit the prefrontal cortex, the center of our executive functioning, decision making and judgment. This can affect our ability to regulate our emotional responses as well as plan, focus and organize.

The good news is, healing can help to mitigate some of these effects. Brains can also be rewired in the other direction – meditation, for example, has been shown by studies to produce the opposite effects in the same areas of the brain that trauma affects. Yet the brains and psyches of children are so malleable that the effects of chronic emotional/verbal abuse, let alone physical abuse, leaves a frightening mark beyond childhood. It creates the potential for complex trauma to develop, especially when one is later re-violated in adulthood.

Without proper intervention, support, validation and protective factors, this form of violence has the potential to shift the course of one’s life-course trajectory.

Here are five ways having toxic parents can shape you as an adult:

1. Your life resembles a reenactment of old traumas.

Freud dubbed it “repetition compulsion,” psychologists refer to it as the effects of childhood “conditioning” or “trauma reenactment” and survivors call it, “Oh God, not this again.” The trauma repetition cycle is real. It’s destructive. And it’s birthed in the ashes of a violent childhood.

Ever wonder why some people always seem to be drawn to toxic people, yet perceive more stable individuals as “boring”? They may have a history of childhood trauma.

For childhood abuse survivors, chaos becomes a new “normal” as they become accustomed to highly stimulating environments which shape their nervous system and their psyche. Their fight for survival in childhood leaves a void in adulthood that is often filled with similar struggles.

Chaos becomes our new normal.

What we have to remember is that narcissistic parents aren’t all that different from narcissistic abusers in relationships. They love-bomb (excessively flatter and praise) their children when they need something from them, they triangulate them with other siblings by pitting them against each other and they devalue them with hypercriticism, rage attacks, verbal and emotional abuse.

They engage in intermittent reinforcement as well – withdrawing affection at critical periods while also giving their children crumbs to make them hope that they’ll receive the love they always desired.

As children, our bodies become so addicted to the crazymaking effects of emotional abuse that we find ourselves more intensely attached to partners who tend to replicate a similar chaotic effect on our bodies as our narcissistic parents.

We feel biochemically attracted to those who resemble our early childhood predators because they mirror the severe highs and lows our bodies went through in childhood. When love-bombing turns into devaluation, our body becomes biochemically bonded to our abusers.

This biochemical addiction leaves us reeling.

In the realm of relationships in adulthood, there are all sorts of chemicals being released when we’re in a bond with a predator. They create a very powerful attachment that’s actually strengthened by intermittent cruelty and affection, pleasure and punishment.

Dopamine, oxytocin, adrenaline, cortisol and our serotonin levels are being affected; these are involved in attachment, trust, fear, and stress. In fact, children who have endured maltreatment tend to have lower oxytocin levels due to the abuse, which leads to a greater number of indiscriminate relationships in adulthood (Bellis and Zisk, 2014).

There’s also a psychological component to this addiction.

When we are the children of narcissistic parents, emotionally abusive people fit the profile of what our subconscious has been primed to seek. Yet they often come disguised as our saviors.

Complex trauma survivors, as trauma expert Dr. Judith Herman notes, are in a ‘repeated search for a rescuer.’

“Many abused children cling to the hope that growing up will bring escape and freedom. But the personality formed in the environment of coercive control is not well adapted to adult life. The survivor is left with fundamental problems in basic trust, autonomy, and initiative. She {or he} approaches the task of early adulthood―establishing independence and intimacy―burdened by major impairments in self-care, in cognition and in memory, in identity, and in the capacity to form stable relationships. She {or he} is still a prisoner of childhood; attempting to create a new life, she re-encounters the trauma.”
Judith Lewis Herman, 

Love-Bombing Pulls Us In And Keeps Us Trapped In Loveless Relationships

The children of narcissists are drawn to narcissists in adulthood to fill a void. They are looking for the validation they never received in childhood and narcissists, on the onset, present us with a lot of it in the love-bombing stage when they are “grooming” us into believing that we’re the perfect partners for them. We crave their excessive praise because we lacked the unconditional positive regard we deserved in childhood but never received.

As children, we learned to associate betrayal with love, and were conditioned to see mistreatment as a form of connection. In fact, it was the only form of connection offered to us. Survivors of narcissistic parents have an extra layer of healing to undergo. Not only do we have to unlearn all of the unhealthy belief systems, we also have to clear our bodies and our minds of its familiarity with toxicity.

When the fears from our childhood are finally removed, we meet peace and stability with resistance; our bodies and our minds have to readjust to baseline levels of safety and security before we find healthy relationships appealing.

“The drive to complete and heal trauma is as powerful and tenacious as the symptoms it creates. The urge to resolve trauma through re-enactment can be severe and compulsive. We are inextricably drawn into situations that replicate the original trauma in both obvious and nonobvious ways…Re-enactments may be acted out in intimate relationships, work situations…adults, on a larger developmental scale, will re-enact traumas in our daily lives.” Peter A. Levine,

For example, a daughter who is unloved by her abusive father may end up with emotionally unavailable – or even sociopathic – partners in adulthood due to an instilled sense of unworthiness. To her, cruelty is all too familiar and abusers feed on her resilience and ability to ‘bounce back’ from abusive incidents. She is used to taking a caretaking role – catering to someone else’s needs while neglecting her own. She has been subconsciously “programmed” to seek dangerous people because they are the “normal” that causes her to associate relationships with torment.

Survivors who are abused as children can later get married to and have children with abusive partners as adults, investing time, energy and resources into people who ultimately seek to destroy them. I have read countless letters from survivors who have been raised by toxic parents and ended up in long-term abusive marriages.

If these wounds are not addressed and the cycle is never disrupted, the first eighteen years of life can literally affect the of your life.

2. Verbal and emotional abuse has conditioned you towards self-destruction and self-sabotage.

Narcissistic parents subject their children to hypercriticism, cruel punishment and a callous disregard for their basic needs as human beings. In order to survive, children of narcissists have to depend on their caretakers for food and shelter – which means they have to play by the rules of their toxic parents if they want to live. This creates what Dr. Seltzer calls maladaptive “survival programs” that we carry onto adulthood – habits like people-pleasing, sacrificing one’s needs to take care of others, feeling “selfish” when pursuing our goals and dimming our light so we don’t become noticeable enough to be targeted.

“You may have internalized early in your life that your needs were not as important as others’ needs were. Lack of empathy from a parent or caretaker, neglect, blame, criticism, failure to accept you as you are and appreciate your qualities and other such experiences have shaped your belief that others’ needs should come before your own.” Nina W. Brown,

A lack of safety and security in the crucial developmental stages of life can create destructive, insecure attachment styles when we are adults, causing us to gravitate towards people who will fail to meet our needs and disappoint us, time and time again.

It can also drive children of narcissists to sabotage themselves, due to the put-downs experienced during a time when the brain is highly susceptible to the harmful effects of trauma. In response to psychological violence, children of narcissistic parents develop a sense of toxic shame, self-blame and an unyielding inner critic that makes them feel as if they’re not worthy of the amazing things life has to offer.

Children of narcissists may be convinced they’re not good enough, or they may go in the other direction: they may become overachieving perfectionists in an effort to prove themselves. Either way, they are lacking self-validation and an internal sense of stability that can only come from healthy self-love.

3. Addictions and dissociation become default coping mechanisms.

Trauma can affect the reward centers of our brain, making us more susceptible to substance abuse or other addictions (Bellis and Zisk, 2014). When we’ve been traumatized at such a young age, dissociation, a survival mechanism which detaches us from our experiences, our bodies and the world – can become a way of life. Depending on the severity of the trauma, survivors of childhood abuse may also struggle with addictive behavior as adults.

“The human brain is a social organ that is shaped by experience, and that is shaped in order to respond to the experience that you’re having. So particularly earlier in life, if you’re in a constant state of terror; your brain is shaped to be on alert for danger, and to try to make those terrible feelings go away. The brain gets very confused. And that leads to problems with excessive anger, excessive shutting down, and doing things like taking drugs to make yourself feel better.

These things are almost always the result of having a brain that is set to feel in danger and fear.  As you grow up an get a more stable brain, these early traumatic events can still cause changes that make you hyper-alert to danger, and hypo-alert to the pleasures of everyday life…

If you’re an adult and life’s been good to you, and then something bad happens, that sort of injures a little piece of the whole structure. But toxic stress in childhood from abandonment or chronic violence has pervasive effects on the capacity to pay attention, to learn, to see where other people are coming from, and it really creates havoc with the whole social environment.

And it leads to criminality, and drug addiction, and chronic illness, and people going to prison, and repetition of the trauma on the next generation.”Dr. Van der Kolk,Childhood Trauma Leads to Brains Wired for Fear

This addictive behavior is not just limited to alcohol or hard drugs; it can range from gambling to sex addiction to unhealthy relationships or even self-harm. Survivors of toxic parents can overeat or undereat as a way to regain control and agency over their bodies; they may develop eating disorders, a penchant for risky sexual behavior or other compulsive behaviors to soothe their unresolved grief.

It’s not necessarily about the specific addiction, but the fact that the addiction provides a convenient escape from the day-to-day realities of immense pain, depression, anxiety and rage that often lie in the aftermath of unresolved childhood wounding.

4. Suicidal ideation is devastatingly common and pervasive among childhood abuse survivors.

Suicidality increases as ACEs score (Adverse Childhood Experiences score) increases and so does the risk of developing chronic health problems in adulthood.

When one has been traumatized as a child and then later re-victimized multiple times in adulthood, a pervasive sense of hopelessness and perceived burdensomeness can result. Survivors of chronic, complex trauma are especially at risk for suicidal ideation and self-harm as adults, because they have witnessed time and time again the cycle repeating itself. In fact, survivors who have four or more adverse childhood experiences are twelve times more likely to be suicidal.

This learned helplessness lends itself to belief systems that cause survivors to feel as if nothing will change. They may feel “defective” or different from others because of the immense adversity they experienced. The future may look bleak if a survivor has not been properly validated or gotten the professional support needed in order to heal.

5. There are disparate inner parts that develop which seem out of alignment with your adult self.

While many people have heard of the “inner child,” fewer people address the fact that there can be inner parts that can develop as a result of chronic abuse. Some of these parts are those we’ve hidden, sublimated or minimized in an attempt to mitigate the risk of being abused – for example, when victims of abuse shy away from the limelight to avoid being punished or criticized for their success.

Then there are “parts” which are defensive responses to the trauma itself. These parts manifest in self-sabotaging ways, but they are actually misguided attempts to protect us. Complex trauma survivors may be so protective of sharing who they really are with the world that they close themselves off from the people who might really “see” and appreciate them. This ruins the possibility of authentic connection or vulnerability with others. This defensive strategy may have been a survival mechanism they developed when younger to avoid the threat of being harmed by a violent parent. It served them as helpless children, but it can cause them to shut out the possibility of intimacy with others as adults.

That being said, there are many ways in which self-sabotage can present itself depending on context and even the type of abuse endured. For example, a male complex trauma survivor may find himself developing a hypermasculine side to himself to ward off memories of sexual abuse. The daughter of a hypercritical narcissistic mother may develop an inner part that is overly angry and defensive to criticism, whether constructive or destructive.

Whether they stemmed from childhood or adult traumas, these ‘parts’ have much to tell us. Silencing or repressing them only makes them stronger in their resolve to protect us – so instead, we have to listen to what they want us to know. Integrating these parts in a healthy manner requires that we learn what they are trying to protect us from and find alternative ways to create a sense of safety in the world moving forward.

Cutting the Emotional Umbilical Cord

The children of narcissistic parents can begin their healing journey by working with a trauma-informed professional to navigate their triggers, process their traumas and learn more about healthier boundaries. Using mind-body healing techniques can also be helpful to supplement therapy; trauma-focused yoga and meditation have been scientifically proven to help heal parts of the brain affected by early childhood trauma. A daily exercise regimen is also a great way to replace the unhealthy biochemical addiction we developed to toxicity. It’s a natural way to release endorphins and gives us that “rush” of feel-good chemicals inviting toxic people into our lives.

There are tremendous benefits from going No Contact or Low Contact with toxic parents as we heal. Minimum contact with a narcissistic parent along with strong boundaries can help us to detox from the effects of their cruelty and in essence learn how to breathe fresher air. Grieving our complex emotions is also necessary to recovery, as we are likely to feel a very powerful bond to our parents despite the abuse (and in fact to the abuse) we endured. Seek positive role models, especially of the gender of your toxic parent, that can help remodel what you are looking for in an intimate relationship.

Address subconscious behavior patterns by bringing the true beliefs underlying them to the surface. Many children of narcissistic parents are trained to believe in their unworthiness; it’s time to start rewriting these narratives. Use positive affirmations, journaling, and speak directly to any repressed inner parts that may be sabotaging your success. It is only when you feel truly worthy of respectful, compassionate love on a subconscious level, that you will be able to run in the other direction when you encounter toxicity.

Despite the challenges on their journey, childhood abuse survivors of narcissistic parents have incredible potential to lead victorious lives. They can channel their adversity into freedom, peace, and joy. They have tremendous resilience, an extraordinary ability to adapt and a knowledge of coping mechanisms that will serve them well as they begin to heal.

To learn more about narcissistic abuse and the effects of childhood trauma, be sure to also read:

by Pete Walker

By Karyl McBride

by Bessel Van der Kolk

by Patrick Carnes

by Peg Streep

by Susan Forward and Craig Buick

by Nina W. Brown

References
Bremner, J. D. (2006). Traumatic stress: effects on the brain. , (4), 445–461.
Bellis, M. D., & Zisk, A. (2014). The Biological Effects of Childhood Trauma. (2), 185-222. doi:10.1016/j.chc.2014.01.002
Brown, N. W. (2008). Children of the self-absorbed: A grown-up’s guide to getting over narcissistic parents. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications.
Choi, J., Jeong, B., Rohan, M. L., Polcari, A. M., & Teicher, M. H. (2009). Preliminary Evidence for White Matter Tract Abnormalities in Young Adults Exposed to Parental Verbal Abuse. Biological Psychiatry, 65(3), 227-234. doi:10.1016/j.biopsych.2008.06.022
Harris, N. B. (2014, September). How childhood trauma affects health across a lifetime. Retrieved November 15, 2017.
Herman, Judith Lewis. . Basic Books, 1997.
Levine, P. A. (1997). . Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books.
Lazar, S. W., Kerr, C. E., Wasserman, R. H., Gray, J. R., Greve, D. N., Treadway, M. T., . . . Fischl, B. (2005). Meditation experience is associated with increased cortical thickness.  (17), 1893-1897. doi:10.1097/01.wnr.0000186598.66243.19
Schulte, B. (2015, May 26). Harvard neuroscientist: Meditation not only reduces stress, here’s how it changes your brain. The Washington Post. Retrieved September 5, 2017.
Shin, L. M., Rauch, S. L., & Pittman, R. K. (2006). Amygdala, Medial Prefrontal Cortex, and Hippocampal Function in PTSD.  (1), 67-79. doi:10.1196/annals.1364.007
Seltzer, L. F. (2011, January 07). The “Programming” of Self-Sabotage (Pt 3 of 5). Retrieved November 15, 2017.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2017, September 5). Adverse Childhood Experiences. Retrieved October 10, 2017.
Teicher, M. (2006). Sticks, Stones, and Hurtful Words: Relative Effects of Various Forms of Childhood Maltreatment. American Journal of Psychiatry, 163(6), 993. doi:10.1176/appi.ajp.163.6.993
Van der Kolk, B. (2015). . NY, NY: Penguin Books.
Van der Kolk, Bessel. Childhood Trauma Leads to Brains Wired for Fear. 3 Feb. 2015. Accessed 15 Nov. 2017

Want more writing like this? Read the book 

“Shahida Arabi is ahead of our time. I couldn’t have been in a darker place in my life when I found this book, after suffering at the hands of an abuser who was also a narcissist. This book gives you hope above all else, and it’s easily relateable if you have gone through abuse. Arabi is a talented, strong, real force of nature kind of writer. I have learned, survived and thrived in the time that I have made this purchase.” – Desiree

Read more: https://thoughtcatalog.com/shahida-arabi/2017/11/the-invisible-war-zone-5-ways-children-of-narcissistic-parents-self-destruct-in-adulthood/

EWW! White House Has A Problem With Cockroaches, Ants And Mice

President Donald Trump has complained repeatedly about leaks in the White House, but it looks like he also has a problem with bugs. 

And mice. 

A list of White House work orders from the past two years ― including the final year of the Obama administration ― obtained by NBC Washington reveals a vermin problem at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., including mice in the Situation Room. 

“They are old buildings,” former GSA Inspector General Brian Miller told the station. “Any of us who have old houses know old houses need a lot of work.”

Other work orders include four reports of cockroach infestations, mice in the White House Navy Mess food service area, among other places, and ants in the chief of staff’s office.

I removed a lot by killing them,” the notes on that latter work order read.

Other orders are for routine repairs, painting, unclogging toilets and moving around furniture.

In one instance, then-press secretary Sean Spicer wanted a safe removed and a “skinny 3-4 foot banquet table” added in its place.” He also asked for a “coin display case for his challenge coins.” 

But it’s the insects and mice that are getting all the attention. 

There are multiple requests for “bug lights,” including one for the office of White House aide Kellyanne Conway and a work order to exterminate “cockroaches in the dining room.” 

Vermin have been an ongoing problem at the White House for decades. 

“For two or three months now I’ve been telling them to get rid of the mice,” President Jimmy Carter wrote in a 1977 diary entry, according to MSNBC. “They still seem to be growing in numbers, and I am determined either to fire somebody or get the mice cleared out ― or both.”

And in Real Life at the White House: Two Hundred Years of Daily Life at America’s Most Famous Residence, authors Claire and John Whitcomb described the residence during the administration of Grover Cleveland, who served two non-consecutive terms at the end of the 19th century: 

When the outside of the house was hosed down during a cleaning, a shower of spiders blanketed the ground. That evening, the white columns were black with them as they crawled back from whence they came. And then there were the cockroaches. One staff member said, ‘I didn’t know there were so many species of cockroaches as I got acquainted with my daily work.’”

That book also describes first lady Frances Folsom Cleveland’s pet canary almost being eaten by a rat that had gotten into its cage.

TriggerPhoto via Getty Images
Work order records show the White House has an ongoing problem with vermin. 

Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/white-house-bugs-mice_us_5a20d02be4b03c44072c6d8b

Charmer Boy Gypsy Girl by Victor Harrington

Story Summary:

The essence and meaning of transcendent love between two people—the kernel of human existence—is often found in the crucible of war. Such was the love between Bosko, a Serbian boy, and Admira, a Bosnian girl, who were caught in one of the most barbaric and brutal periods of the last century: the breakup of Yugoslavia.

Amazon Link – http://amzn.to/2AdQOCr

Indie Reader Review:

CHARMER BOY GYPSY GIRL is a novel about enduring love in impossible circumstances. Bosko is a handsome and charming Orthodox Serb. Admira is a Muslim Bosnian with gypsy blood running through her veins. In spite of their religious and ethnic differences, when they meet at a New Year’s Eve party and share a kiss they know that it’s fate. As Yugoslavia begins to splinter and lines are drawn between ethnic groups, the couple will have to fight to stay together — and alive.

CHARMER BOY GYPSY GIRL is meticulously crafted, drawing on ample historical details to bring to life one of the most horrifying events of the 20th century: the siege of Sarajevo. Based on the real-life love story of Bosko Brkic and Admira Ismic whose heart-wrenching tale captivated the world in the 1990s, Victor Harrington’s novel is a powerful reminder that love can prevail in even the most brutal conditions.

While it is a love story, CHARMER BOY GYPSY GIRL is also very much a stark examination of the cruelty of war. In its pages, we see the best and the worst of humanity. As Sarajevo is under attack, life comes a matter of day-to-day survival. Serbs and Bosnians are pitted against each other, but Bosko and Admira refuse to let their love become another casualty. Rather than allowing their relationship to dominate the narrative, Harrington uses it to contrast their grim surroundings, highlighting the senselessness of war and the resilience of the human spirit.

Superbly written and well-researched, CHARMER BOY GYPSY GIRL portrays one of the most ruthless periods of modern history in haunting prose. Harrington does not hold back in his depiction of the ethnic cleansing that took place during this tumultuous time and reminds us through Bosko’s friend, Matko, of our responsibility to safeguard life. “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing,” says Matko; these words remain relevant today.

Ultimately, CHARMER BOY GYPSY GIRL is a tribute to that most powerful of emotions which rules us all: love. Admira and Bosko are vivid characters who stick with you long after the final page has been read, almost as if they are begging you to remember that, in the end, love must triumph over hate.

~Christine-Marie Liwag Dixon for IndieReader

CHARMER BOY GYPSY GIRL, an epic story of love and survival

Author Bio:

Author Victor Harrington has the quintessential writer’s family history. The adventure began in 1850 when Edward, an Englishman in the British Army, fell in love with a Muslim princess whose family lived in Agra. Victor’s American paternal great-grand-mother was the daughter of a Presbyterian pastor from New England. The author was born in India in 1958, and his family immigrated to Canada in the late 1960s.
For Victor, New York remains a city that creates its own temporal distortion where a writer can observe, for a moment, the many worlds past, present, and future that make up the space-time continuum of his city.
Charmer Boy, Gypsy Girl is Victor Harrington’s first novel, and he has recently completed his second.

Mythbuster Adam Savage Has Made a Bag, and It’s Beautiful

Adam Savage is clearly overjoyed about his new bag. I met up with the gear-obsessed designer, former Mythbusters host, and Tested.com editor in chief at his workshop in San Francisco to see his latest creation. He's designed his first carryall utility bag and launched a new brand, Savage Industries, to market it. With the same childlike glee he exudes on camera, Savage flipped the thing around on the workbench, opening and closing it, zipping and unzipping, as he pointed out all the features.

Yes, the bag is white. It only comes in white, at least for now.

It's constructed almost entirely out of upcycled cloth from boat sails, so each bag has some unique quirks, and every specimen comes off the production line with a broken-in look. The handles are held together by magnets instead of snaps or velcro, which, if you've fiddled with those types of closures on your own bag, is a welcome innovation. You just bring the handles near one another and they jump together with a satisfying clonk. Also clever: The straps are stiff enough that the clasped handle stays propped upright like a little pup tent frame. Unzip and pry open the bag, and it holds its shape in that configuration too, thanks to a pair of spring steel inserts that run around the lip and keep the mouth agape like the jaw of a whale shark.

There's a pocket inside to hold your notebooks (Savage adores Tom Sachs Ten Bullets notebooks, though he says his pocket is brand-agnostic) and, via a stack of horizontal loops, your pens and pencils. On the Kevlar-reinforced bottom, there are strips of velcro. This detail hints at accessories to come, like some padded bays for camera equipment or a waterproof bucket-like insert for toting a 12-pack.

Savage Industries

Savage designed it so it could carry absolutely everything he needs for a day, from tools to books to lunch. He says he drew inspiration from two places: First is the old tool case he used when employed as a model-builder at Industrial Light & Magic. It too had the clamshell top that flopped open for full access to the goods inside. He's tried to find something like it on the market, but he was disappointed enough in the options to just build his own version. The other inspiration is the purse given to Apollo astronauts on the missions to the moon. Called the Temporary Stowage Bag or, colloquially, the McDivitt Purse, this tote was mostly forgotten until Neil Armstrong's widow discovered it while going through her recently deceased husband's belongings. Savage borrowed a few elements from the NASA design—the simple shape, the steel closure, and the near-total absence of pigment.

None More White

Yes, the bag is white. It only comes in white, at least for now. It's striking, but it seems impractical for something that's bound to soak up dirt and grime and oil. Savage sells me on it. It will develop a patina, and patinas are cool. Also, you can't find tools at the bottom of a black bag, he says. He certainly didn't want to make something that fell in line with the current fashion trend of "tactical" and "urban camo" that seems to dominate bags and accessories. A white bag stands out as unique. It isn't hyper-masculine like the ubiquitous Cordura messenger. Rather, it's almost feminine, or at least nonbinary.

Savage has been sewing since he was in middle school (he regularly makes his own costumes) but for this project the heavy lifting and stitching was done by Mafia, a company also based in San Francisco that makes a whole line of gorgeous bags primarily out of recycled sailcloth. Mafia has produced a few hundred Savage bags for this first run, and each one gets Mafia's standard lifetime warranty.

The bags are available on Savage's website. Each costs $225. Once the first run sells out, they'll go on backorder until Mafia can catch up. Each one will be hand-numbered for extra collector cred.

So this is a new brand, this Savage Industries. There's more to come, Adam says: a smaller version of this bag and a larger one too, though the big version will still be sized to meet FAA regulations for carry-ons. What else? He wouldn't say, beyond these bags and the accessories that will Velcro into them. Whatever arrives next, I just hope it comes in white.

Read more: https://www.wired.com/story/savage-industries-bag/

Charles Manson, Imprisoned Mass-Murdering Cult Leader, Dies

Charles Manson, the imprisoned wild-eyed cult leader who masterminded the 1969 murders of actress Sharon Tate and six other people in Los Angeles, has died. He was 83.

Manson died of natural causes at 8:13pm Pacific time on Nov. 19 at Kern County Hospital, according to a statement from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. He was serving a life sentence at a state prison in California.

A career criminal, Manson persuaded a drug-induced flock of followers — the so-called Manson family — that he was the reincarnation of Jesus Christ and that they would survive and rule the world after a racial apocalypse he called “Helter Skelter.” The name came from a Beatles song he viewed as prophetic.

Manson’s followers may have killed more than two dozen people by some reports, but criminal trials against him and his group focused on the savage killing spree that became known as the Tate-LaBianca murders.

With a focus on killing Hollywood celebrities, Manson ordered followers Charles “Tex” Watson, Susan Atkins, Patricia “Katie” Krenwinkel and Linda Kasabian to invade a Los Angeles home on Aug. 9, 1969, and kill its occupants.

Death Toll

In addition to Tate, the 26-year-old pregnant wife of film director Roman Polanski, those killed from multiple stabbings and gunshots were writer and actor Wojciech “Voytek” Frykowski and his partner, the coffee bean heiress Abigail Folger; celebrity hairstylist Jay Sebring and Steven Parent, a friend of Tate’s gardener. Polanski was in London working on a film.

Kasabian acted as the lookout and became the star witness against Manson, whose role in the killings was discovered by police while investigating other crimes. She was offered immunity for her testimony.

The killing of Tate, who starred in films such as “Valley of the Dolls,” was particularly gruesome. She was stabbed in the stomach by Atkins despite pleas to spare her unborn child, whose delivery date was near. Atkins used Tate’s blood to write the word “pig” on the front door.

The next night, Manson took Watson, Krenwinkel and Leslie Van Houten to the home of supermarket executive Leno LaBianca and his wife, Rosemary, who were also murdered.

The trio stayed in the house for a while, eating food from the LaBianca’s refrigerator and playing with the couple’s dogs.

Intended Victims

Atkins told fellow prisoners that the Manson family planned to kill other Hollywood stars to help trigger the racial apocalypse Manson predicted. She died in a women’s prison in 2009.

Manson’s trial began in June 1970. After a trial characterized by the giggling and grimaces of the defendants, Manson was convicted of first-degree murder in January 1971.

He was sentenced to death. California’s supreme court later ruled capital punishment illegal, and he was re-sentenced to life imprisonment. Manson, who carved a swastika into his forehead while in prison, was denied parole more than a dozen times.

“There’s no murder in a holy war,” he told Charlie Rose in a 1986 interview on “CBS News Nightwatch,” referring to Tate’s slaying.

Charles Maddox, whose crazed deeds would spawn a series of books, movies and documentaries, was born Nov. 12, 1934, in Cincinnati, Ohio, to Kathleen Maddox, a 16-year-old alcoholic prostitute and Walker Scott. After her marriage to William Manson, Charles was given his step-father’s last name.

Career Criminal

He made a living through crime, spending half of the first 32 years of his life behind bars. Manson was put in jail for armed robbery, arson, burglary, assault, mail theft, drug possession, forgery, credit-card fraud, receiving stolen property, pimping, grand theft auto and numerous parole violations.

After his release from prison in 1967, he became a cult guru in the San Francisco area as a prophet of the apocalypse and tried to pursue a career in music.

He was befriended by Dennis Wilson, the drummer in the Beach Boys band. Through this association, Manson got an opportunity to audition for record producer Terry Melcher, the son of singer and actress Doris Day. Melcher, who had rejected Manson’s bid to make a record, was the previous occupant of the Los Angeles house Polanski and Tate had rented, which was the site of the first murders.

In 1955, Manson married Rosalie Willis and had a son Charles Manson, Jr., who committed suicide in 1993. After their divorce, he married Leona Stevens and had a second son, Charles Luther Manson. He had a third son, Valentine Manson, with Manson family member Mary Brunner.

“The name Manson has become a metaphor for evil, and evil has its allure,” the prosecutor of the Tate-La Bianca case, Vincent Bugliosi, co-wrote in the best-selling book on the Manson case, “Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders.” “Some people have the same fascination for Jack the Ripper and Hitler.”

    Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-11-20/charles-manson-jailed-mass-murdering-cult-leader-dies-at-83

    Is this what real beauty looks like?

    Image copyright Mihaela Noroc
    Image caption Mihaela took these photographs in Kathmandu in Nepal (left) and Reykjavik, Iceland

    “Go to Google Images right now,” says photographer Mihaela Noroc, “and search ‘beautiful women’.”

    I do as she tells me. Millions of results come back.

    “What do you see?” she asks. “Very sexualised images, right?”

    Yes. Many of the women in the top pictures are wearing high heels and revealing clothes, and most fit into the same physical mould – young, slim, blonde, perfect skin.

    “So beauty all the time is like that,” Mihaela says. “Objectifying women, treating them in a very sexualised way, which is unfortunate.

    Image copyright Mihaela Noroc
    Image caption L-R: Portraits taken in Germany, Italy and France

    “Women are not like that. We have our stories, our struggles, our power, but we just need to be represented, because young women, they see only images like this every day, so they need to have more confidence that they can look the way they look and be considered beautiful.

    “But,” she adds, “Google is us, because we are all influencing these images.”

    Mihaela has just released her first photography book, Atlas of Beauty, which features 500 of her own portraits of women.

    Image copyright Mihaela Noroc, India
    Image caption Pushkar, India: “I was happy to see women have joined public forces all over the world,” Mihaela says

    The Romanian photographer’s definition of beauty, however, appears to be that there is no definition. The women are a variety of ages, professions and backgrounds.

    “People are interested in my pictures because they portray people around us, everyday people around the street,” Mihaela explains.

    “Usually when we talk about beauty and women, we have this very high, unachievable way of portraying them.

    “So my pictures are very natural and simple. And this is, weirdly, a surprise. Because usually we are not seen like that.”

    Each of the book’s 500 portraits has a caption with information about where it was taken, and, in many cases, the subject.

    The locations are varied, to put it mildly. They include Nepal, Tibet, Ethiopia, Italy, Myanmar (also known as Burma), North Korea, Germany, Mexico, India, Afghanistan, the UK, the US, and the Amazon rainforest.

    Image copyright Mihaela Noroc
    Image caption Mihaela took these photographs in Colombia (left) and Milan, Italy
    Image copyright Mihaela Noroc
    Image caption Captain Berenice Torres is a helicopter pilot for the Mexican Federal Police

    Some locations, however, proved more problematic than others.

    “I approach women I want to photograph on the street. I explain what my project is about. Sometimes I get yes as an answer, sometimes I get no, that really depends on the country I’m in,” she explains.

    “When you go to a more conservative society, a woman is going to have a lot of pressure from society to be a certain way, and her day-to-day life is carefully watched by somebody else.

    “So she’s not going to accept being photographed very easily, maybe she’s going to need permission from the male part of her family.

    Image copyright Mihaela Noroc
    Image caption Sisters Abby and Angela were photographed in New York
    Image copyright Mihaela Noroc
    Image caption A guide at a military museum in Pyongyang, North Korea

    “In other parts of the world they are extremely careful because there might be issues concerning their safety, like in Colombia. Because they had Pablo Escobar and the mafia for so many years.

    “So they say ‘OK, so you’re going to take my picture but I’m probably going to be kidnapped after that because you’re part of the mafia and you’re not who you’re saying you are’.”

    She adds: “If somebody were to start this project just with men, it would be much easier, because they don’t have to ask permission from their wives, sisters or mothers.”

    Image copyright Mihaela Noroc
    Image caption Left: Pokhara, Nepal. Right: “This is what shopping looks like for many people around the world,” Mihaela says of her portrait taken in Nampan, Myanmar

    Mihaela says she occasionally puts pictures through Photoshop, but not for the reasons you might think.

    “When you take a picture, it’s usually raw, and that means it’s very blank, like a painting, you don’t have the colours you had in the reality.

    “So I try to make it as vibrant and colourful as it was in the original place. But I’m not making anyone skinnier or anything like that, never, because that’s very painful.

    “Because I also suffered as a woman growing up from all kinds of difficulties, I wanted to be skinnier, look a certain way, and that was also related to the fake images I saw in day-to-day life.”

    Image copyright Mihaela Noroc
    Image caption Idomeni Refugee Camp, Greece: This woman and her daughters fled the war in Syria

    It’s safe to say Mihaela’s photography book is quite different tonally to, say, Kim Kardashian’s 2015 book of selfies.

    “These days, the bloggers, the famous people of our planet have set this unachievable and fake beauty standard, and it’s very difficult for us as women to relate to that,” she says.

    “Kim Kardashian has 100 million followers on her Instagram page and I have 200,000, so imagine the difference – it’s astonishing. But slowly, slowly, I think the message of natural and simple beauty will be spread around the world.”

    Image copyright Mihaela Noroc
    Image caption L-R: Portraits taken at the Pompidou Centre in Paris, Omo Valley in Ethiopia and Delphi, Greece

    So what’s the best piece of advice Mihaela could give to anyone keen to get into photography? Buy a good quality camera? Learn about lenses and angles?

    Not exactly.

    “Buy good shoes,” she laughs, “because you’re going to walk and explore a lot.”

    Image copyright Mihaela Noroc
    Image caption Lisa was backpacking through Berlin when Mihaela met her

    Follow us on Facebook, on Twitter @BBCNewsEnts, or on Instagram at bbcnewsents. If you have a story suggestion email entertainment.news@bbc.co.uk.

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    Read more: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-41736574