Refuge from the Storm

sailing boats moored in the protection of the harbour


Sailing ships nestle in the safety of the harbour in Poldark Country.

Take care until next time …

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Ghost Riders

clouds & sunset over irish sea with interesting cloud formation over sculpture

Ghost Riders

Evening draws in as the sun fades & the clouds say “Goodnight!”

Heysham Bay, Lancashire, UK.

Take care until next time …

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Peace: End of the Day Reflections

photograph of sunset over river with boats


After the day’s phrenetic activities & demands on our time, it is good to rest & reflect.

River Trent, Fiskerton, Nottinghamshire UK.

Take care until next time …

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So What DO You Want?

checklist in diary Yes or no

Choosing What We Want Helps Us Follow New Paths

In times of stress & challenge we are very good at wishing we were somewhere else, doing something else or in a different situation.

However, when we are asked what we WANT we are less good at answering the question!

We resort to what we DON’T want, like or prefer. We speak & think in negatives:

Q. “So what do you want to change?”

A. “Well I don’t want to be left out?”

It is very easy to become accustomed aka. fall into the habit of saying what we don’t want. Whilst that may be helpful for eliminating the unwanted, it is a bit like asking somebody

Q. “Where are you?”

A. “I’m not in New York!”

Our answer leaves no clear way forward: for those asking the question or for us trying to solve the problem.

Deciding what we DO want enables us to start putting plans into place to achieve that aim.

Those plans may include

  • getting help, support or advice from others
  • deciding to distance ourself from toxic & unhealthy relationships
  • changing career
  • deciding to look for good in difficult situations, like lockdown
  • etc

The amazing thing is this: if we are able to discover what we DO want, it opens a whole list of different paths we can take to achieve it. Big decisions may need breaking down into small, single steps that we can take to move towards our goal.

Once we have a plan (even if incomplete) we can begin to take the first step.

At a time when it is so easy to despair about the situations & world around us, it is also an EXCELLENT opportunity to use the time to inspire, rekindle hope & motivate us to achieve what perhaps have been dreams laid in their bed for so long.

A small change in mindset can make a HUGE difference in satisfaction & achievement.

The largest buildings started with one spade or shovel stroke into unyielding soil. But it was completed by diligence, commitment & by working with those who could help the designer & architect achieve their goal. Although the designer & architect knew what they wanted, they didn’t have all the skills & aptitudes to do everything single-handed: they needed help!

The situation will turn & better days WILL come.

WE CAN prepare so that we can help to usher in these better days or respond when the better days come.

Planning for tomorrow’s achievements starts TODAY.

Take care until next time …


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Why We ALL Need to Understand the Basics of Narcissism

Photo by Camila Quintero Franco on Unsplash

We NEED to Know About Narcissists & Narcissism

To many of us, the term Narcissist or Narcissism is nothing more than a word we hear or read too often in the press & media. We don’t understand it. It doesn’t affect us. So there it stops.

But what if it does affect us & we don’t realise it?

What if we have been in a relationship for some time now that just doesn’t feel right?

What if one of our best friends is difficult to really know, unpredictable & flips into a rage with little provocation?

What if we have never been able to please our mum, dad, aunty, uncle or boss?

What if our partner never takes responsibility for their actions?

What if it is always my fault?

What if … ?

Any of the above scenarios could easily indicate the presence a narcissist & if they do, you are in BIG trouble.

Narcissists are NOT to be taken lightly, as they:

Destroy their victim, sometimes leading to murder or suicide.

Deceive EVERYONE meaning that the victim lives trapped in a daily hell with no support & no way out (narcissists isolate their victim, usually by smear campaigns or just making it impossible to see friends who have the victim’s best at heart).

Control, manipulate, deceive & lie to everyone, including themselves, because they create a false-self, an illusion of how they want to be seen, fitting everyone & everything else into that false picture.

Continually revise history based upon where they are at that moment in time. This is usually through denial, re-editing their story to their own advantage & making sure that the victim (or anyone else) takes the blame.

Use psychological & emotional abuse to discredit, silence, break & crush their victim. 

… & this is just the start!

If they have the ability to trick & con judges, police, authorities & even psychologists, so the rest of us are considered easy fodder.

We don’t need to be experts on the subject BUT we do need to be aware they exist & understand their traits & tactics SO THAT when we encounter them in any sphere of our lives, we can be aware & be prepared.

There are some great online resources to help you further. The following sites are a good place to start:  – Great resource with videos, chat & contacts. – Peg is a survivor, psychologist & author. Great insight. – Help & advice from a survivor of narcissism

In addition, I have written a few articles on the blog about narcissists & their activities which you may like to read. Here is one to start with:

Covert Narcissists: A Summary of Their Traits, Behaviours & Values & How To Escape


PLEASE look to protect yourself from these masters of deceit, manipulation, control & power. Once you become entangled in their web, life will become very uncomfortable, difficult & perhaps even terminal.


Take care until next time …



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“I don’t Want to Take Sides!” REALLY?

Photo by Jen Theodore on Unsplash

The Power of What is Hidden

For most situations we like to see ourselves as impartial,: not taking sides.

Occasionally we feel compelled to support one person more than someone else, usually because of what we have been told by well-meaning friends.


Unless we have spoken to both parties WE HAVE NO RIGHT to make a judgement. This doesn’t mean we can walk around with our eyes closed & have to believe everything we are told. HOWEVER, it does mean that BOTH parties need a chance to give their side of the story.

Of course, there will be inconsistencies in how each account sees the situation, but there is usually some overlap in the story.

But what about when we are dealing with abusive situations?

THAT is when we have to tread very carefully. A situation is abusive because one party has the ability to dominate, to laud it over the other.

Sometimes this is physically. Signs of abuse may be visible but explained-away as careless accidents: “I fell over!” or “I was just careless!” are common responses, designed to deflect attention away from the situation, quickly. For the victim, taking it any further may be dangerous. Unwillingness to explain further should be seen as a signal for you to back-off, BUT NOT TO IGNORE.

In emotionally abusive situations, identifying problems from the outside hits a whole new level of DIFFICULT!  Emotional abusers are far more deceitful & secretive in their tactics. They rarely leave physical marks, although pushing them to snapping-point can release an onslaught of rage never before seen. These people play in the minds of their victim: desensitising them to their abuse, confusing them, making them forget who they are, doubting their own judgement, feeling they must be wrong & removing any voice to defend themselves.

In these situations, Not Getting Involved or Not Taking Sides is the best decision you can make to allow the abuse to continue, unchallenged.

Abusers love secrecy, lies, deceit & isolation to achieve their aims. The longer they remain unchallenged & unidentified the more they can invest in their twisted & sadistic schemes.

Don’t expect abusers to admit to anything. They won’t, unless it benefits them & even then it will NOT be their fault. One victim wrote,

How can anyone else know what the victim is going through as only the victim knows the true situation. Emotional abusers won’t even open up to professional therapists about their true self. If they can deceive judges, juries & police to put others in prison or deprive them of their children, you will be easy fodder. They are dangerous people who should not be ignored & require putting somewhere that they cannot cause any further harm.

So, before you decide to be impartial, please consider that you may be the only life-line to the victim & pulling back is actively contributing to their personal injury.

Just be honest & admit the truth: you are afraid of the personal cost in time, reputation & emotionally. Make your decision with a clear conscience, but please don’t be impartial just to save your own skin & condemn a victim to a life of Hell.

The LEAST you can do is to let someone else know of your concerns before pulling back.

Too many times the police tell victims they can do nothing, finishing with the phrase “… BUT PLEASE GET BACK TO US IF YOU FEEL THREATENED OR UNSAFE.” Sorry? Isn’t that why they have come in the first place? Next time could be too late & become a murder or suicide investigation. But that is the subject for a separate post.

Until next time …

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Marbled Sky

pub by canal with swirly clouds and reflections

Marbled Sky

The Boat Inn Loughborough, UK.

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At the End of the Storm, There’s a Golden Sky

sunset over a river with dark clouds

Sunset After the Storm

Sunset over the River Trent, Farndon, Nottinghamshire

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Sleeping Mills During Lockdown

old buildings with deserted roads

Night Time During Lockdown

Old hosiery mills lie still during lockdown.

Loughborough UK

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Covert Narcissists: A Summary of Their Traits, Behaviours & Values & How To Escape

Beware! Covert Narcissists Bring Destruction

In the previous 4 posts, we examined the traits, values & behaviours of covert narcissists so that we can begin to identify whether our own life is being impacted by their malignant & destructive activities.

PART 1 Covert Narcissism: (1) Why Their Web is SO HARD to Escape From introduced some terminology commonly used in this subject to describe individuals, traits & behaviours, along with some background on the narcissistic types & how to spot them …

PART 2 Covert Narcissism: (2) What Others See & What You REALLY Get started to look more closely at the behaviours & values that flag-up that all is not well …

PART 3 Covert Narcissism: (3) Starting to Break Free From Their Web continued to look at traits & behaviours but also started to examine how to take action & begin to find a way out of the narcissist’s web …

PART 4 Covert Narcissism: (4) Escaping Alcatraz looked at an actual Case History that illustrates what was discussed in Parts 1 to 3 & the important lessons which equip us with tools to escape …

We saw how trying to reason or negotiate with a covert narc is pointless & produces no benefits for us. They will only pursue what they want, when they want it & how they want it. Negotiation always leaves the victim worse off than before.

How our relationship with the covert narc, especially if it has been long-term & intimate, such as marriage, will be highly negative, rob us of confidence, self-esteem, self-worth & knowing who we are.

We looked at how narcs have many barbed hooks in you & your soul, how they use lies, deceit, procrastination & diversion, isolation & former mutual friends to do their dirty work & achieve their aims. Beneath the confident, calm, unruffled exterior they are self-loathing cowards who have chosen their path in life & who will stop at NOTHING to get what they need: SUPPLY! Input from others (or one specific other) to bolster-up their fragile ego & image.

We learned that what you experience as the victim, will be the complete opposite of what the covert narc portrays to the world outside. To you they are Hell on earth; to others they are paragons of virtue, victims of deranged partners, those who try their best but are continually misunderstood: butter wouldn’t melt in their mouth.

One thing is certain: they will NEVER accept responsibility for their actions (usually denying they ever took place or were someone else’s fault), they will never admit to doing anything wrong, never be accountable (even when they are presented with the evidence) & will continue in well-established patterns of behaviour, seen across all narcissists, except they will be far more sneaky (covert) about it.

Escaping from the relationship is costly, drawn-out, painful, energy-sapping: an experience we never thought could be so difficult. For this we NEED support & back-up from reliable & trustworthy friends AND from people who have been through similar things themselves. It is rarely something we can do alone.

Although covert narcs are much more devious & emotionally destructive, their inner rage should never be underestimated! If they do lose it, they are capable of violence resulting in injury & even death.

In the UK, accessing help & support from frontline workers like police officers is much more difficult, partly through over-stretched resources but also through poor understanding of what is now a Criminal Offence under UK Law: Emotional Abuse. Sadly, something physical usually needs to happen or the victim needs to feel in danger (which they already do much of the time) before they are taken seriously, at which point it is often too late!

Covert narcissists use the unseen: their actions, lack of actions, words, secrecy, subliminal provocation, destruction of your self-confidence & knowledge of who you are to press-home their plans for POWER & CONTROL. They may not leave physical bruises or scars, but they leave emotional scars & debris that may never be healed over a lifetime.

We have not discussed how to completely break ties & stay free as that is beyond the scope my aims for this set of posts, which was to put it on the agenda that something may be wrong & may need action. However, the following web sites are excellent sources of help & advice from those who either specialise in treating narcissists or those who have experienced being on the receiving-end of a narcissistic relationship & have managed to escape:  – Great resource with videos, chat & contacts. – Peg is a survivor, psychologist & author. Great insight. – Help & advice from a survivor of narcissism

I always love to hear feedback but please seek help & advice from those who know. These online resources are a great start.

Take care until next time …

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Covert Narcissism: (4) Escaping Alcatraz

inside alcatraz prison showing cells & spiral staircase

Escaping from a Covert Narcissist Can Be Harder Than Escaping from Alcatraz

In Part 1 we looked at terminology & background to narcissism
In Part 2 we started to look at traits & behaviours of covert narcissists
In Part 3 we examined narcissistic patterns, behaviours & starting to break free

In this final page of a 4-part blog post we will look at ways to break free from the clutches of a covert narcissist.

I cannot stress highly enough the importance of help & support through the process of disentangling yourself from the narcissist’s web & finally breaking free.

Having watched my friend suffer such injustices & rejection at the expense & behest of a pathological liar has been one of the most difficult experiences of my life. Seeing the depths to which narcissists will plunge has been both enlightening & scary.

BUT escape can & does happen: the many blogs & books on the subject are testament to that. Below is an account, based upon my friend’s ongoing struggle with her narcissist husband. I have highlighted important take-away messages in red italics. This example does not include children. Cases that do can be more convoluted & require specialist legal advice & support.




My friend was married to her covert narcissist for 17-years (their relationship had been longer) before she decided that enough was enough & took the step to commence divorce proceedings. AT THAT POINT what was hidden became visible & the onslaught of covert harassment, lies, deceit & secrecy escalated to previously unimagined levels!

Read the brief history below & see if you notice any of the traits & patterns we have discussed so far.

Brief History

Relationship Events Overview

Her husband (narcissist) had been previously married & had two daughters. He was very close to the youngest. She was an attempt to save his previous marriage. He failed to use any kind of discipline with her, saying on one occasion, “My daughter can do whatever she likes!”

At the outset of their marriage he promised to take care of their affairs & he did a very good job. All bills were paid by him, usually in his name. The fact that all major income & most of their joint money was in his accounts did not seem strange to my friend because, she trusted her husband. If he decided to make a payment she simply agreed. She was a bit confused that she was never allowed to know about income, outgoings & financial accounts: it was just one of his ways of reducing worry for her.

Relationship with his youngest daughter deteriorated over the years. My friend was sent caustic messages by his now adult daughter. When she mentioned these to her husband he simply asked, “Well what have you done to her this time?”

Her husband increasingly wanted just the two of them to spend more time together. My friend is naturally sociable & caring, with many friends & connections. She had been a professional singer who had toured extensively. Her husband had become relatively disinterested in friendships & quite reclusive; definitely not very sociable (although when she first met him he would run karaoke parties at his house & be the life blood of the party).

His emotional input to the marriage was almost zero. He seemed devoid of all emotions except anger. He spent most of his time on his cell-phone & when challenged would either ignore my friend or issue some accusation about her to distract from the subject.

She was treated to periods of silence & he often only mentioned some problem days or even weeks after it had happened, when she had forgotten about it. Whatever had happened was her fault. In exasperation & on more than one occasion she told him, “I envy you because you & your family are never wrong!” If she tried to challenge him on his behaviour he simply replied, “I didn’t do that!” or “It wasn’t like that!” She fell into several periods of depression & anxiety throughout the time of her marriage.

Eventually, after a disastrous holiday where she was watched obsessively & he became abusive & violent in Spanish restaurants, she secretly returned home & commenced divorce proceedings on the grounds of unreasonable behaviour. That is when he really opened the can!

How the Narcissist Responded

He too returned home early from the holiday, saying it was because she had ruined it. He stated that they must not discredit each to friends, to which my friend agreed … he then set about scorched earth policy like only a narcissist can.

  1. Smear campaigns started:  His activities included:
    • destroying her name & reputation by targeting key neighbours, friends & church leaders with his lies
    • accusing her of leaving him for another man. He was the victim. This bait was swallowed completely by the church leaders & as a result my friend was:
      • banned from all meetings she had helped to set up & lead for previous 10 years & from her singing role
      • forced to leave the church. Leaders subsequently instructed people not to be in contact with her, causing her to lose around 400-450 friends & acquaintances overnight, including some she had known for 30 years (much longer than she had known her husband!)
      • ignored in her town of residence by people she knew as word spread quickly about HER wrongdoings. These same people remain supportive of her husband: he has done a thorough job
      • called a liar by her church leaders when she challenged them over the accuracy of her husband’s account.
  2. Lies, deceit, accusations & control: Listing these will be easiest. Her husband:
    • denied any problems during the holiday, accusing her of coming home early to see her lover
    • accused her of leaving the family home to set up with her lover (her lover did not exist & she cannot leave because all of their finances, except her state pension, are in his accounts)
    • declared at mediation, in writing that he was being open & transparent about all matters. He was not, especially concerning his finances & work’s pension. Sadly the mediator was pretty inept & did not follow up on these, so they remain unresolved to date
    • stated that my friend is not entitled to the same standard of living as him & has refused to pay any support during the past 20-months. No proper reason has yet been given. He continues to live the high-life whilst causing her to struggle financially
    • keeps her trapped in the family home through lack of finances. She is now in debt with legal expenses & cannot afford to move out until final settlement. At the same time he insists that she moves out. So he keeps her trapped whilst insisting she leaves & sees that as perfectly reasonable!
    • has accused her of being deceitful, lying, abusive, using foul language, being emotionally abusive, stealing, telling tales to others.

As you can see, he feels highly entitled, & is avoiding accountability, whilst playing the victim (in public).

The REALITY of what has happened is rather different:

  1. Her husband struck up a relationship with another woman,
    • less than 4-months after my friend filed for divorce
    • on whom he spends extensively & has taken away for nights, weekends & probably at least one holiday
    • with whom he spends a large amount of time phoning, messaging & visiting
    • who, until lockdown in the UK, spent 3 to 5 nights sleeping at her house, leaving his car parked outside his mother’s & walking to his girlfriend’s house nearby
  2. Has been deceitful, lying, used foul language, thrown things at her, been emotionally abusive, stolen personal items from her, provided appropriately skewed updates to those who need to hear
  3. Denied saying & doing things which are recorded in writing & in photographs
  4. Has made multiple verbal promises which have been forgotten or denied later
  5. Kept records in writing & photos (which, when taken out of context) make my friend look bad
  6. Twisted what my friend said so that it sounded bad or unreasonable, to gain advantage
  7. Has defied even legal professionals along a path where he knows is right. Time will tell.

I hope you get the picture & can see how these traits expose him as a covert narcissist. His accusations of others are based on what he is doing, his truth is fluid depending on how he feels, there is no accountability or sense of doing anything wrong, he is entitled & devious, he is the life & soul of the party to friends & a downright nasty piece of work in private.



  1. Keep detailed records of what happens: make sure you keep a factual record of what was said or done, date, time & setting. Make sure you also have back-up evidence (letters, e-mails, messages, texts etc & photos of any injury or damage to  artefacts).  Since narcissists respond according to what they feel at that time, their recall of detail after the event is, at best, unreliable. In reality it usually bears no resemblance to reality or truth.  Their brazen ability to lie & deny will astound you! 
  2. Take an inventory of belongings in the house: record who owns what & make special note of anything of value. If you have receipts, keep them safe. It is not unusual for things to mysteriously disappear along the way. Narcissists are also adept at  producing receipts for presents they bought you, claiming that the items are theirs!
  3. Never underestimate how devious, toxic & dangerous these people are: they will play on your good nature, expect you to submit to their demands whilst expecting to give NOTHING in return. They will take EVERY opportunity to make you look bad & will have zero conscience about how true their accusation is: if they accuse you, it is truth to them. 
  4. Keep focused: narcs will take every opportunity to steer you away from where you want to go (& they don’t). This is most likely concerning fair division of property, savings & ESPECIALLY their pension. Know what you are after & pursue it like a bloodhound until you get what you need OR reach a decision on what action is required in order to obtain that information. Solicitors are very good at taking a wider view & identifying what is important. Narcs throw-up all sorts of irrelevant & trivial matters to put you off the scent.
  5. You will never win in their mind: narcs are driven by power & control to ensure that they win. There is no second place for them. You don’t NEED to win their arguments; you just need to get what you are entitled to. If they need to win, let them in their own mind. Say, “Okay! You win, you’re right!” but never stop pursuing your aims. Even if a narc is found guilty, it will always be someone else’s fault!
  6. Narcissists MUST win at all costs   If you are in a legal battle, expect solicitor’s letters accusing you of unreasonable behaviour: it is all part of the narcs big plan to win. Ignore what is irrelevant & focus on your goals. Don’t get distracted into superfluous or pointless discussions or arguments.
  7. Be patient: you will need more patience than you have ever needed to cope with the abuse, total unfairness of the situation, interminable delays & red-herrings, downright lies & false accusations that come your way. Many narcs can also be smug: humming & whistling to make you wonder what they are up to next & keep you on edge.
  8. Shut down emotional engagement & investment: this is probably the single hardest thing to do. You have been in their clutches for so long that you may be trauma-bonded to them. BUT they need their supply & will get it however they can. They don’t mind whether it is good or bad: a confrontation can provide more energy that ego-stroking. If you are able, distance yourself emotionally from them, act as if they are not there & get on happily without them.
  9. Become factual, focused & business-like: This ties-in with many points above. The aim of breaking free is to BE FREE. Keep focused; stay on track, place emotions on hold & achieve your goal.

Putting the above into practice is much harder if you have to live in the same house as the narc, but it IS still possible. During any legal proceedings ensure that all communication is through solicitors. Under no circumstances should you try to make private agreements with a narc: they will take you to the cleaners.

Issues relating particularly to the UK:

  1. Response to solicitor’s letters is voluntary. Someone’s hand can only be forced using the courts which is timely & expensive.
  2. Mediation is compulsory but pretty useless for negotiating with a narcissist.**
  3. Implementation of policing emotional abuse is sketchy at best. Even though it is now a CRIMINAL offence & part of UK Law, poor understanding & interpretation by  personnel to whom these cases are reported mean that getting any action without physical violence is very difficult.

 **  Narcissists are only negotiable on their terms & will take every opportunity at mediation to

      • make you look stupid &/or themselves look superior
      • delay proceedings & obstruct the revealing of key information for your case
      • intimidate you if both parties are in the same room (always ask for Shuttle Mediation where you & the narc are in separate rooms with the mediator shuttling between the two).

(Footnote: ALWAYS vet mediators before using. Some are useless & will walk into the narcissist’s traps, leaving you worse-off than before mediation started)


My hope & prayer is that you are able to begin to find the freedom & quality of life you deserve & that your testimony will appear somewhere in writing when you are out of the narc’s web. The light at the end of tunnel can seem non-existent & it can take a LONG time to see, but once it appears it is surprising how rapidly you can appear at the other end.

Staying free is a topic beyond the scope of this article but the web sites below & many other excellent online resources are available to help you as you continue your journey. They are written & managed by people who either specialise in treating narcissists or who have experienced being on the receiving-end of a narcissistic relationship:  – Great resource with videos, chat & contacts. – Peg is a survivor, psychologist & author. Great insight. – Help & advice from a survivor of narcissism


Take care until next time …

Posted in abuse, emotional abuse, emotional control, encouragement, freedom, help, mental health, narcissism, quality of life, relationships, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Covert Narcissism: (3) Starting to Break Free From Their Web

photograph of spider's web

Webs May Look Beautiful But They Are Designed to Kill

In this 3rd Part of 4, we will continue to look at ways to identify covert narcissistic behaviours & start to look at the road to freedom.

In Part 1 we introduced to terminology & background information on narcissists
In Part 2 we started to take a deeper look at the traits & behaviours of covert narcissists

Three more character traits & behaviours that are common in covert narcissists include:

  1. Wearing down any opposition by continually changing their story: the technical term for this, as we saw in Part 1, is Gaslighting.  It is part of their secrecy, deceit & lies which help them to keep power & control & maintain the advantage. Such behaviour eventually leads to serious mental illness in the victim as they keep asking themselves whether they are going insane. The end result is usually anxiety & depression, sometimes ending in suicide. We will look at ways to counteract this below.
  2. MUST win at all costs: there is no place for losers & the narc can NEVER be seen to lose! Blaming others, avoiding questions, distracting attention, secrecy & lies are all part of the narc’s winning equation. Even if they do lose, it will always be somebody else’s fault. If you are seen to take power from them, the narc will unleash Hell as their fragile ego cannot handle it.
  3. Emotionally abusive at home, but star of the show in public: narcissists are great actors, many capable of winning an OSCAR for the way they win people over. Part of their act is to ensure they come out on top, are seen as the good guy & play the role of victim like a member of RADA! There is a MASSIVE disparity between their real, home life & their public image. The more they can convince people of how deranged, deluded, insane or unreasonable their victim is, the better they look. Although physical abuse can occur when a covert narcissist’s rage is triggered & they lose control, their emotional abuse is much more subtle & harder to prove.



Narcissists can be quite intellectual & in positions of responsibility, but in their aloofness & fake confidence they can be remarkably blind, even stupid. Every narc may be different BUT their BEHAVIOURS conform to a common pattern or cycle, with 3 definite stages:




At first nothing is too much trouble. Gifts appear in profusion, statements like, “I have never met anyone like you!” or “We were meant to be!” or “I feel a special connection to you!” appearing frequently in conversation & writing. They will see you as often as they can, taking you out for meals, buying expensive clothes, shoes, taking you on holiday. Many narcs also consider themselves to be a reincarnation of Casanova himself, so use of the bedroom will be expected.

BUT DON’T BE TAKEN IN! They will have been watching you for a while & initially they will want to know all about you: likes, dislikes, favourites. Surprisingly they will probably like the exact same things you do (called mirroring). They will say what you want to hear, thereby creating an illusion of knowing all about you, taking an interest in you, caring for you, even loving you.

REALITY could not be further from the truth. They are simply reflecting back what you have already told them, luring you into their web of deceit, spinning ties of falsehood to bind you up..

ONE TELL-TALE SIGN OF A NARCISSIST is that they will tell you very little about themselves, apart from general details. Overt narcs tend to brag about achievements, promotions, positions, name-dropping every so often to impress & dazzle you. HOWEVER, Covert narcs love to play the strong enigmatic type & will use terms like,”Oh! Let’s talk about you rather than me” or “I’m not that interesting” to deflect attention back onto you. Secrecy is a powerful weapon in the wrong hands.

Another red flag is that narcissists may readily joke about others, especially when it is negative or makes them look silly, BUT they cannot take anything said in jest about themselves (or often their family) & become hyper-defensive, offended or hurt.

Once they have you hooked, supplying them with the adulation & attention they deserve they will implement Stage 2 …



Once they have built you up, the cutting-down begins.

This may not be obvious at first & it may not even be obvious whilst you are going through it, but it WILL happen.

The narc will attack you from all sides: confidence, self-esteem, support & your self-identity. You will begin to lose sight of who you are. These attacks may be one-after-the-other or hit several targets at the same time.

You will transition from being independent to being emotionally (perhaps even physically) dependent on the narc. Nothing you do will be quite good enough. Everybody else, especially the narc, knows best.

The people who have your best interest at heart, your family & close friends, will be high on the narcissist’s hit-list. The narc may be rude, sulky or quiet,  make personal comments, or avoid visiting with you. You will see less & less of those who really care. You will do anything in an attempt to avoid conflict, the silent treatment & criticism. It won’t work, but YOU will slowly become isolated in the process. Your backstop, safety-net, sources of honest opinion will be taken away from you.

Your appearance may become a focus for criticism (& control): the way you dress, the way you speak, your hairstyle or even personal features over which you have no control, like colour of your eyes, birthmarks, height etc. The narc will certainly try to make you feel embarrassed or ashamed if you do anything or wear anything that makes you feel good about yourself. Not necessarily full-on: just enough to create & reinforce doubt.

Your understanding & awareness of self will become hazy, eventually fading until you no longer know who you really are.

You may, if you are lucky, start to question the relationship if you are feeling controlled or claustrophobic. Things may just not add-up!

The narcissist will, by this time, be luring multiple other sources of supply into their web of deceit. It is supply that matters to the narcissist, not the person who gives it!

Eventually comes the most painful stage for many …



Once you no longer serve a purpose to further the image of the narcissist you will be discarded as if you have never existed, no matter how visible your pain.

When discard occurs:

    • one of their other supplies will unwittingly step up to the task
    • your name & reputation will be destroyed
    • any who try to help will be ostracised through the rumours, part-truths & downright lies spread by the covert narc.

The true victim becomes isolated & alone: the perpetrator plays the victim & becomes the hero. Narcissism at its best!

It is sickening to watch any victim to go through such a devastating process & you will wonder why people do not see what s happening or at least ask for themselves, rather than blindly believing the narcissist.

That, my friend, is the power of the narc’s deception & an indication of just how dangerous these people are.



The above cycle often repeats itself more than once.

Narcissists are so wretched & dependent upon supply that if things don’t work out, they come back with stories of remorse & undying love once more. This is the nearest you will ever get to a narc admitting their mistakes, although inevitably, it will still be someone else’s fault.

Since you are emotionally hooked in & often devastated by the discard, not understanding why it happened, you are prepared to give them a second chance & so the cycle begins again. People can become so damaged that the cycle repeats many times over many years.

AS SOON as you detect this type of behaviour or become suspicious about someone, IT IS TIME TO ESCAPE!

But how?

Below is a brief introduction to the subject that we will tackle more fully in Part 4.



Breaking free of a situation which may have taken years to develop (my friend was in her relationship for 18 years before she decided to take the step of breaking free) is NOT easy! It will be costly on time, finances, reputation & emotions. I will use her story as a case study in Part 4.

But for now, the first part of breaking free is to realise & accept that you are in the situation. This is hard & painful. You will ask yourself many questions like,

“How could I have been so blind, or stupid?”

“Why did I let this happen?”

“Why was I such an idiot to not see this earlier?”

The answer is simple (to write):

You were in a relationship with a narcissist, someone who is so broken that they they can’t even be true to themselves & whose self-loathing knows no limits.

When someone is that damaged & determined, the chances of you seeing it or avoiding it are VERY low.

Listen to those trusted friends whom have known you for years. When they express concern for you they are rarely jealous, or making comments to stir up trouble. If you talk to people & they try to convince you that you have nothing to worry about or have got it wrong, do not pursue the matter any further with them: they will be of no help & there is a chance they are already sympathetic to the narc.

Be prepared for shocks: those you think will help are often first to run, jump ship or side with the narc & those you never expected to help will step up & be a comforting rock. Life can be strange when we really test friendship!

FIND HELP & SUPPORT to do it. The process requires oversight by an independent third party, one who can see & say what is actually going on when you are too close or damaged to see it for yourself. Someone who supports you & holds your hand through the process is likely to be instrumental to your success. This may be one person or it may be many, but please CHOOSE CAREFULLY.

Look forward to seeing you for the final post of this series, Part 4, tomorrow:

The following web sites are excellent sources of help & advice from people who either specialise in treating narcissists or those who have experienced being on the receiving-end of a narcissistic relationship:  – Great resource with videos, chat & contacts. – Peg is a survivor, psychologist & author. Great insight. – Help & advice from a survivor of narcissism


Take care until next time …

Posted in abuse, emotional abuse, emotional control, inspiration, narcissism, quality of life, relationships, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Covert Narcissism: (2) What Others See & What You REALLY Get

Photo by Sydney Sims on Unsplash

What Others May See is Not What You Get with a Covert Narcissist

In Part 1 we looked at some basic definitions & introductions to the world of the narcissist.

In this Part 2, I want to dig deeper into the stuff that actually impacts you & how: what they say, how they act & how you can spot them in their works of stealth, wealth & deception.


If we look at their traits patterns & behaviours they all pivot around these two driving forces.

Narcissists are incredibly insecure, despite outward appearances. Their time, effort & energy is focussed on keeping this image of the false self, that is, who they WANT us to see.  This false self is the veneer thin facade that they parade around to the outside world, the face that shows success, knowledge, confidence & any other positive trait they may wish to add into the mix.

HOWEVER, the REALITY is that they are self-loathing individuals who are petrified that others will see them as they see themselves. So their time & energy is spent on keeping up appearances. Because of this huge emotional deficit, they need to leech off other people & their primary source is the victim or empath, who gladly co-operates for all of the right reasons whilst never suspecting what is really happening.

Narcissists have, at some stage in their life, ceased to develop the ability or desire to see things as they really are. Their background is usually littered with poor role models, over-bearing parents, friends or relations or just downright inept individuals, who have taught them values like I must win, there are winners & losers (nothing in between), there are only black or white solutions, I must be the best (rather than trying to be my best), I need to be in charge, I won’t ever let anyone get on top of me or make a fool of me again … etc.

Their outlook on the world is binary or dualistic: only two answers & each one of those is absolute …  win or lose, top or bottom, me or you, all for me so none for you. These are the mental aptitudes of a pre-pubescent child, one who has not learned to engage & filter their thoughts with reason or emotion (other than disgust, hatred or shame). They have chosen to remain static with an emotional age of around 7 to 12 years.

So, when we encounter them, their responses are easy to predict, once we have realised what is going on in their psyche: what I call Junior (elementary) playground attitudes of I’ll get you back, I’m better than you (actually than everyone), I won’t ever forget what you have done to me, it isn’t my fault (ever), someone else must have done it, if I make enough commotion & play the victim I will get sympathy & support etc.

As you will appreciate, these responses from a fully grown adult, apart from being unacceptable & strange to the rest of us, can take us by surprise. Narcs often rely on others thinking, “Surely they would NEVER do that!” 

Yes they would!

Ironically, although they think like that, their life mission is to convince others that they do not. They want everything to be just so & in their favour. They CANNOT allow others to see them as they see themselves & so begins a painful & costly journey for the narc & especially those who get caught in the narcissist’s web of deceit & falsehood.

It is easy to feel sorry for the narcissists. Many do & try to help. But make no mistake, it is a path the narc has chosen for themselves, it is a pattern of behaviours that they have honed & refined over the years & THEY TAKE NO PRISONERS. They devour, confuse, abuse, spit-out & move on to their next target. EVERYTHING they do drives them onwards like a tank out of control, crushing anyone & everyone that gets in their way.

As we will see in Part 3 & Part 4, untangling the web & escaping from these malignant characters is costly, time-consuming & draining, not to say, expensive! Those who leave are traumatised & often broken. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is common, requiring extensive specialist help. Escaping is only the beginning.

DON’T feel sorry for them; most are beyond help because they do not want it. Look after yourself & let nature take its course with the narc.


Below is a checklist of well-established character traits & patterns of behaviour that will help you to identify whether any of your friends, family, or significant other could be a covert narcissist.

  1. Incapable of accepting responsibility for any problem: to admit to having done something wrong is seen as weakness & is NOT permitted, even if faced with the facts. It is always somebody else’s fault.
  2. Accuses others of their own behaviour(s) and traits: narcs will discredit their victim by accusing them of having done what the narcissist has actually been doing.
  3. Deflects attention away from subject: covert narcissists, in particular, thrive on chaos & confusion. They will use almost any tactic, especially counter-accusations or character assassination to distract you from answers to important questions.
  4. Compulsively lie & their truth ‘baseline’ continually changes: as part of the chaos & confusion, narcissists can say one thing in a sentence & then completely deny having said it in the next. This is especially true when remembering events or what was said after an event has happened.
  5. Uses covert, low-grade intimidation in secret: in order to prove their case, covert narcs will accuse their victim of being unhinged, reactive or unstable & then subtly pick, niggle & intimidate their victim in private until they react … at which point the narc has proved their point,
  6. Feels entitled & deserves the best in all areas of life: everyone is a lesser being & beneath the narc. Therefore, nobody deserves to be above them in possessions, adulation, appreciation, knowledge: not even experts, so you can expect them to really know their subject well. Narcs will often buy things on impulse: not because they are necessary, but because they serve a purpose to make them look better. If that decision puts the family into debt, so what? It is all about being at the top.
  7. Does not accept any value or rights of the victim, totally lacking empathy: if the narcissist is entitled, then nobody else is. Their immature psyche & lack of trust  mean that their relationships are more akin to business transactions which, even then, are based on win-lose in favour of the narc. Narcissists thrive on the pain they cause others as it feeds into their ego (is a source of supply).
  8. Isolates victim from help and support to secure advantage: underneath it all, narcissists, especially covert narcissists are cowards: people with a wretched self-image that they cannot possibly let anyone else discover. They can be angry, bullies & filled with rage, but they are still cowards, using others as their screen & slipping out if the going gets tough. One of their strongest weapons is victim isolation for which they use smear campaigns & character assassinations, cutting them off from sources of support & help. If you are bold enough to support a victim, the narcissists are so convincing in their lies & half-truths that you are likely to become the scapegoat,ending-up as the villain.
  9. Masks their life in secrecy: this greatly reduces the chance of any comeback or accusation, as people (including the victim) have no idea what is really happening. This secrecy is likely to include sources for power & control for the narcissist, such as, finances, personal activities & social life. Secrecy also prevents accountability, allowing the narcissist to invisibly abuse their victims without responsibility to others for their actions.

In the words of Megan Holgate

Narcissists are extremely clever and they never reveal their true self to you, until they know they have you completely blinded by their immense spell. They only display who they think you want them to be. They are in a way chameleons, modifying their behaviour to whatever the situation may require.

Others see only apparent humility, their (pseudo) pain, lots of being victimised & misunderstood, (mock) concern, (artificial) friendliness & maybe even a touch of the sickly.

You, the victim, see the reality, a reality which is the antithesis of the narcissist’s public persona.

These two views rarely mix as the narc is highly skilled at the art of illusion & painting whatever picture they want people to see. They are deceitful liars who will do anything & go to any lengths, without conscience to get what they want & need.

We will continue to look at narcissistic traits & patterns of behaviour & begin to look at ways to start breaking free from their web in Part 3 (tomorrow).

The following web sites are excellent sources of help & advice from those who either specialise in treating narcissists or those who have experienced being on the receiving-end of a narcissistic relationship:  – Great resource with videos, chat & contacts. – Peg is a survivor, psychologist & author. Great insight. – Help & advice from a survivor of narcissism


Take care until next time …

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Covert Narcissism: (1) Why Their Web is SO HARD to Escape From

[Emotional Abuse Is Harder To See From The Outside But Equally Devastating To The Victim]

Emotional Abuse Is Harder To See From The Outside But Equally Devastating To The Victim

Today is Part 1 of a 4-Part blog-post looking at covert narcissists & how to break free.

I am not a psychologist or a counsellor but I hope that what I have experienced & learnt along the way will help you to identify, take action & escape the strangulating grip of these emotional black holes,

This first part is an introduction to terms used is association with narcissism, along with basic information on how narcissistic relationships evolve & develop.

  1. My credentials: I have been supporting a friend for the past 2 years who has been emotionally abused by her husband (a covert narc) for 17 years & took the brave step to divorce him, unleashing the gates of Hell in the process. As I write, that process is STILL ongoing,
  2. My Aims: to equip you with tools which will help you see your own situation in a new light & be equipped to take appropriate action.
  3. My Reasons: as you will discover, the world of the narcissist is self-created & self-perpetuated. They see that maintaining that illusion is your (or some other unfortunate’s) role & responsibility. I hope to shine some light in the darkness they create & unravel the chaos they thrive on so that YOU CAN FIND A WAY OUT OR SUPPORT THOSE WHO ARE TRYING TO ESCAPE FOR THEMSELVES.

This is a costly & dangerous path, especially for your reputation with friends, work-colleagues or family. There are few more furious as a narcissist exposed.

I will try to avoid jargon, but the following terms are used a lot in the psychology of narcissism. I may occasionally use one or two of these:

Narcissist: from the Greek mythological figure, Narcissus, who became obsessed with his own image. Image, reputation & praise are essential for maintaining the veneer of existence of a narcissist. Challenge these & their inner loathing & rage is likely to come to the fore, which can be frightening & dangerous.

Victim: the person on whom the narcissist preys & uses as their main target for actions & words. Often referred to as an Empath as they are the ones who have the heart, emotions & capacity for relationship, support & understanding. They are the givers, to the narcissist’s emotional black hole,

Supply: the main person who supplies the narcissist with the emotional input they need to bolster-up their ego.

Gaslighting: the ability of the narcissist to create chaos, confusion & mental illness through lies, denial & changing their story.

Flying Monkeys: those people (allies) who are friends & allies with the narcissist that have been taken in by the narcissist’s story & who are happy to do the narc’s bidding (pass on stories, accusations, carry messages etc).

Intellect: the capacity to store information & use it effectively to solve problems. It is a functional capacity which is independent of emotions. Also known as IQ. Narcissists can be very intellectual & well-qualified.

Intelligence: the ability to give intellect context, meaning & value by applying the filter of emotions. The ability to feel or empathise with another person. Narcissists totally lack this quality (although they may learn how to portray an imitation through watching others).

Narcissists are a nasty species that come in all shapes, sizes & tactics. Male narcs tend to outnumber females, but both have the same devastating impact on lives.

Like many character traits/psychological conditions they exist on a spectrum or continuum of extremes: every individual may be different but their patterns of behaviour are similar & highly predictable (once you know what you are looking for).

Overt Narcissists: These are the most obvious narcissists: high-profile, loud, brash, centre-of-attention, never wrong, infinitely wise, smooth-talking liars. They intentionally stand out in a crowd, often appearing as charismatic, funny, witty & knowledgeable. BUT scratch the surface i.e., watch them for a while or ask awkward questions & their shallow game is quickly revealed. Many see these people as decision-makers & leaders. Their followers may be many & passionate as like attracts like in this case.

Covert Narcissists: By far the most dangerous & toxic characters. They are more devious, still desperately needing the approval & admiration of others, but getting their supply of this energy is much more understated & covert, as their name suggests. Make no mistake, they may be quieter, appearing shy & retiring, but their inner rage & hatred is just as strong, if not stronger than their overt counterpart. Their poison is never far beneath the surface & will overflow with little provocation.

The two types of narcissist are similar in their need for public approval, acclamation & respect. They also both display public & private personas that are poles apart: in public they are charming & everyone’s best friend forever but in private they are caustic, secretive & downright nasty.

The particular danger with covert narcissists is that they are masters at luring you, unsuspecting into their web of deceit, lies & falsehoods. They work on you in private so that you rarely see the problem until too late. You have no genuine reason to misbelieve or  mistrust them, because that is NOT on your radar.  Why should it be? You are in a relationship, a two-way thing & assume that they are too!


They are in a transaction which gives them what they want & care little or nothing about relationship as the rest of the world would define it. It is all one way: TO THEM! When you realise this, you are so tangled in their web that escaping is a long-term, exhausting & often demoralising experience. You will need support which, as we will see in the next part, they will do their best to deprive you of.

Part 2 (tomorrow) will begin to delve deeper into patterns of behaviour & traits to look out for.

In the meantime, the following web sites are excellent sources for help & advice from those who either specialise in treating narcissists or those who have experienced being on the receiving-end of a narcissistic relationship:  – Great resource with videos, chat & contacts. – Peg is a survivor, psychologist & author. Great insight. – Help & advice from a survivor of narcissism


Take care until next time …

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Spring Daffodils

Spring Daffodils, Isle of Man

Spring Daffodils

Manx Spring daffodils light-up the water-side

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Making Waves


Making Waves

A wave breaks on a beautiful, sunny Manx day.

Take care until next time …

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Urban Sunset


Urban Sunset

Even towns can be beautiful when nature takes control.

Take care until next time …

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Sea Sky & Rain

rainstorm over the sea Isle of man

Manx Storm

Summer Storm Over Sea Near Port St Mary, Isle of Man.

Take care until next time …

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Reflections in Pink

sunset photograph showing pink sky reflected in river

Reflections Below

Sunset reflected in the River Trent near Newark.

Take care until next time …

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10 Top Tips For Enjoying Lockdown

photo of beach huts in a line in different colours

Locked Down Need Not Mean Isolated

Although we are in lockdown (at least we are here in the UK) these tips will serve you well for any day of the week, time of the year, crisis or achievement.

  1. Contact Somebody You Haven’t Been in Touch with for a Long Time: Perhaps it is an old school or college friend, work colleague, someone you fell out with all those years ago, someone who wronged you or someone who blessed you. This will change their life & yours.
  2. Drop a Note to Neighbours to Let Them Know You are There: Many live in fear & isolation even in busy neighbourhoods: reaching out a hand can build bridges you never thought possible.
  3. Read a Good Book: In this ‘electronic age’ there is still nothing that beats reading a well-written & edited book. You can get loads of crap as ebooks so go for those printed by a reputable printer. Reading from a screen can never equal the experience of handling & reading a physical book.
  4. Take Some Time Out: None of us were built to run for 24-hours-a-day or 7-days-a-week! Occasionally extended work periods may be needed BUT if you don’t give yourself time to relax, ponder & dream your physical & mental capacities will burn out & surprisingly quickly (with me it took 1-minute in my workplace).
  5. Look After Yourself: Many of us spend our time looking after other people at the expense of ourselves. There is nothing wrong with helping others but if we don’t look after ourselves then at some stage our ability to look after anybody will expire.
  6. Look After Others: Some of us are so self-obsessed that we lose-out on the true joy of living in a community, where social interaction provides a recharge for all concerned. Social media does not replace face-to-face interaction, but at times of isolation it can be a lifeline to all concerned. Balance giving & receiving, even if one may dominate from time to time.
  7. Learn to Love What Matters: We can get so tangled-up in the small, insignificant, irrelevant things of life that we drift aimlessly, feeling lost, unfulfilled & confused. Take time out to consider what really matters to you: relationships with friends, family, loved-ones, mutual trust, emotional stuff.
  8. Spread Positive News: At a time when desperation, fear & panic fill the media, look for antidotes to redress the balance: good news. It doesn’t mean we are ignoring the reality but it can make a huge difference to how we & those around us can cope with what is happening.
  9. Get Enough Rest & Sleep: Lack of these brings increased stress, suppressed immunity & psychological fatigue. We can all go for different lengths of time before we break, but if we don’t rest we will break. If you can’t/don’t sleep well, rather than simply accepting it, give yourself permission to try. You may wake up early. You may manage to sleep through. If you are feeling tired or weary your body is telling you to get some R&R.
  10. Learn to Love Yourself: For many of us this is THE single most difficult thing to do, perhaps because of upbringing, what others have said to us, things we have done that we feel are unforgivable, mistakes we’ve made & those things we have left undone. Nobody knows us better than we know ourselves & rarely does anyone criticise us as much as we criticise ourselves. WE ALL DO WRONG, ARE ALL IMPERFECT & HAVE MADE MISTAKES. You are in good company. It isn’t what we’ve done that defines us, but how we move forward from this point. There is ALWAYS time for a new start.

I write these to myself as much as anyone else but if we all address just one item on this list that is one more opportunity to make a positive impact on ourselves & others.

Until next time, take care …

Posted in bringing hope, building relationships, change through adversity, confidence, creativity, encouragement, lockdown, meaning for life, overcoming barriers, photography, quality of life, relationships, support, Uncategorized, uncertainty | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What is Hope?

[Stepping Forward Can Feel Like Driving Into a Tunnel]

Stepping Forward Can Feel Like Driving Into a Tunnel

The Oxford English Dictionary defines Hope as ‘noun. /hoʊp/ 1[uncountable, countable] a belief that something you want will happen

I think that Hope is actually much bigger than just something I would like to happen.

To me Hope encompasses passion, drive, direction, trust, faith, belief, emotions & more.

Hope is about reaching a better place no matter how bleak things may seem now. Early Christians were martyred in the arena. What hope did they have? That no matter what they were going to go through there was something much better awaiting them on the other side.

For many of us, life’s circumstances will take over & try to snuff-out any hope we may have. For those of us faced with long-term situations, conditions or illness, if we lose hope we effectively lose life.

Hope, to me, seems to be about finding a way now to help us through today & take us nearer to where we want to be.

I remember that when things started to go wrong whilst I was recovering from heart surgery, I was in a position where my energy, my drive, my expectations rested around zero. It was at this time that my hope became nothing more than an acceptance of where I was & a belief that I wanted to feel better than I did. Nothing spectacular. All very visceral. But once I accepted things as they were, it seemed that I was able to raise my expecatations that this afternoon, tomorrow, the weekend, next week, whenever, things would be better.

My target was better health. My hope was trusting that I would get there.

Thankfully I did eventually recover but there were times along the path that my hope was no more than a flickering candle at the end of the very long, dark tunnel. Yet, without that tiny seed of something to aim for, it would have been too easy to just give in, not expect anything & maybe not have moved forwards but backwards?

I don’t think that the hope or belief per se ‘made me better’ but I do believe that they enabled me to keep moving mentally forward & that perhaps, just perhaps, that hope did something much deeper within my body to keep me going. I think this is what people call fighting a disease or illness: that refusal to give in & extract whatever we can from what we have in order to move us forward.

So what about today?

Many of us live in fear of what could happen next, not only with Covid-19 but with our relationships, mental health, physical wellbeing, friends, employment (a big one for many) & more.

Perhaps part of moving forward is changing could (an unknown) into what will (something over which we have a bit of control).

We may not be able to change our physical circumastances, but can we change how we respond mentally?

We may feel mentally crippled, but can we do something, however small, that will rekindle some sense of achievement, pride, self-esteem or value?

Can we call a friend for a chat to see how they are? Focusing on others can be a great way of receiving ourselves.

Can we give something to those who are able to make a difference at this time?

Can we learn to appreciate things we have taken for granted for so long, like our freedom?

Can we give ourselves & others hope, hope that beyond today, tomorrow , next week or next month things will be different … & they will bedifferent because we have chosen to be a part of making them so?

What have you been doing to change your situation or how you would like to change your situation? I’d love to hear your stories & accounts.


Take care until next time …

Posted in bringing hope, hope, inspiration, loneliness, personal experiences of recovery, purpose in life, tough times, Uncategorized, uncertainty | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

High Risk Living?


Cobalt Blue Tarantula

Life has a habit of throwing us unwanted surprises every so often.

For me it has been an 18-moth bout of depression & more recently, a heart attack & surgery.

I would never have invited either of these into my life & I hope they have given me their once-in-a-lifetime-experience once & for all.

Yer neither do I regret or wish that either of these life-changing events had ever occurred.

They did & I am thankful for all that they taught me!

The heart issues have made me potentially less able to fight off illness & infection. Is this true? Well, I must trust the experts who have told me this & live accordingly. Thankfully, I have not had to test whether the information is true, but in some ways, neither do I want to intentionally. The risk would certainly be higher than the benefits. No! I have to live each day in the knowledge of what could happen, BUT I NEED NOT LET THAT DEFINE ME!

I can still do pretty much all that I could before … even with this risk hanging over me.

However, if I let it define who I am, it will stifle what I CAN do because it will be too easy not to try: to play safe & do nothing (aka. stagnate).

We all face issues today where we have a choice to act or hide. We don’t want to be blaise about things but neither do we want to be trapped in a dungeon of our own making.

So let’s look at what WE CAN do, in OUR situation & give it a go.

And why have I posted the picture of a tarantula?

Well, they have many skills, are master hunters & live below ground, but if they stayed there & did nothing, they would probably die of starvation. In order to survive & grow, they need to take the risk, venture out, take action & grow into what they were meant to be …

which I thought illustrates my little story above very well.

Until next time, take care …


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Even When The Clouds Cover The Sun It Is Still Shining

At the times when we feel #hope is fading fast, it’s good to remember that there is hope, it’s just that we can’t always see it.

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Add A Bit Of Colour?

“Where’s the photo?” You may ask.

There isn’t one & for a good reason.

It’s very easy to make statements like this but without a reference point or completion (e.g., photograph to illustrate what I’m saying).

In leaving-out the photo much of the impact of what I am saying is lost.

Just made me wonder how often I say things in life that are not supported or enhanced by what I do.

Until next time …

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Confidence: From Within or Without?

Confidence doesn’t always start from within: sometimes it needs a kickstart from outside.

That’s why I disagree with the “think positive & everything will be well” brigade. We can think as much as we like but some things only begin to take balance & resolve when we are given a new perspective on an old problem, by another person.

At that point, “I could never do that!” has a chance of becoming “I never thought I could do that!”

Until next time …

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UK Government Does It Again!

I just read with interest how, once again, our UK government have proceeded to make decisions that affect the wider British public … without consulting the wider British public.

In their wisdom, they have appointed the head of a ‘successful’ inner city school to help decide on sex education for 5 year-olds and upwards. 

Great!  But why was there no public discussion or canvassing of opinion before such a wide-ranging decision was made?


It seems that with alarming regularity, our politicians are making sweeping and increasingly significant decisions about the UK, from the safety of their ivory tower and without getting their hands dirty by asking some serious questions of the people that put them in power.

Perhaps it’s because they are afraid: afraid to face issues that others really care about and actually carry feelings that go against the politically correct norm (whatever that is).  Abortion bills rushed through ‘because of lack of time’.  What a great reflection on our society that we don’t have time to discuss the very thing that makes society live … life.  Please tell me what’s more important … MP’s salaries?  Christmas dinner?  The new car?  Choice of buffet lunch? 

Or is it that they genuinely don’t care?  Have they lost sight of reality?  Are they unreachable?   Do they weild too much power without true accountability?  Are they amoral?

Or do we keep quiet on issues that need to be raised and debated?

Yes! I am cynical.

We’re told, “Be polite”, “Don’t cause trouble”, “Enter into honest discussion.”  

But I ask, “When is this really reciprocated?”   My answer is, ‘Near to Election Time’ when they really fear the consequences of public apathy and the possibility of not getting back into power; when they need our support.  That’s when issues suddenly open up for ‘public debate and discussion’!  But until then, we have to put up with minority groups who shout loudest or carry a disproportionate amount of power dictating what the average person in the UK suffers, shaping a ‘future for all’ which does not include all and is far from rosy.

Come on Westminster!  Please stop insulting and fearing the electorate that put you in power and speak to us. 

And if it’s just good old British arrogance you suffer from … get a life and face reality. 

There’s more to this country than your parliamentary careers and public image.  Spin may flow smoothly from the doctors’ lips, but at some stage you will be taken down by the whirlpool it creates. 

Why can’t we have some transparency and accountability?  Or is there just too much to hide?

There is nothing to fear in open debate unless the fear is what will be seen by debating openly.

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‘Once in a Lifetime Offer!’

I read the other day that over 89% of the business books that people purchase and download go completely unread.

Of the remaining 11%, only 1% of those who read the book will actually implement any of the ideas they find in the book – even if they are well aware that doing so will cause immediate and drastic improvements in their lives.

And of that remaining 1% who attempt to use the ideas, an even smaller percentage will use the ideas correctly.

So, the average person has less than a 1% chance of benefiting from any book they download or buy.

I was staggered.  But then, after thinking about myself, I wasn’t quite so surprised.

The power of marketing is to prompt the ‘impulse buy’.  People pay professional copywriters hundreds, even, thousands of dollars to write compelling script that leads us to the big sell; making a decision to buy. And before we know it, our credit card is debited!  They know the power of words, images and a compelling argument. 

And clearly, for the majority of people this tactic works. 

We buy some low-cost product that we promptly forget about, whilst the seller repeats the process to hundreds or thousands of visitors … and makes a very healthy profit … mainly on people’s impulse buying.  We think, “I can’t do without this”  when clearly we can, or there would be a much greater percentage of people who would digest and apply every last morsel of information from those unread business book downloads!

In a world of ever-increasing speed and convenience, increasing pressure to possess and have, increasing messages of “You’re not successful in life unless …” it is little wonder that so many are drawn in by these ‘Once in a Lifetime’ offers.  We’re afraid of losing out or missing a bargain, when in reality, we’re spending money and gaining nothing … and in the process we join the queues of people on the credit and debt trap.

“Buy now; pay later”.  We’ve all heard it.  But if we haven’t got the money now, will we have the money when the bill comes through in 12 or 18 months?  It’s easy to think “Yes, of course we will!”  Unfortunately, if we fall for the salesman’s slogan once, there’s a good chance we’ll fall for it again.  So, in 12 months we don’t have one item to pay for; we have two, three, five, ten …  and at that point we’re stuck.

I don’t honestly have many real answers to this, and I’m certainly no financial expert, but I would like to share with you some principles that I try to apply and have worked for me.  So please, make of them what you will:

  1. Whenever possible I pay in full at the time of purchase.  If I use a credit card I always try to transfer money from a bank or building society account to the card and pay it off.  Yeah! I know the economists will tell you this is ‘bad practice’ because you lose the interest on your money, but honestly, unless we’re talking about thousands of pounds, a couple of weeks interest on a hundred or even a thousand pounds is worth nothing compared to our peace of mind.
  2. If I feel that I’m being drawn into a sale I’m unsure about I either make sure I have some time to think (the salesman worth his salt will grant this time; the shark will bite with “Oh! The offer finishes today”).  For online offers, if I’m reading the script and feel like I’m being drawn in, I take ten minutes, twenty minutes, an hour, or whatever is needed to walk away, have a coffee or tea and really think about what is on offer:  Will I use the product or information?  Do I need it?  Do I need it now?  I try to be very much aware of the ‘call to action’ line that so many marketers add to their copy: “Buy now!”, “Why wait?”, “Do it now?”, “Can you afford to wait?”  The answer in nine out of ten cases is nearly always “Yes I can thank you!”
  3. If I am going to ‘Buy Now; Pay Later’ I make sure I have the money in the bank and transfer it to an account where I won’t access it until payment day.  That way, I benefit from the interest and from the peace of mind of knowing that the money is there, ready to do its job when needed.
  4. If I’m shopping for larger or more expensive items I try to take someone with me who is not emotionally involved in the sale and can see things more objectively.  If they’ve got experience in the field of what I’m buying, all the better.  But their role is one of being objective; seeing things as they really are, without getting involved emotionally.  You’d be surprised how much easier it is to say “No” when you have someone with you who can help focus on what is going on without themselves being involved.  Marketers and salesmen know that the strongest pull on people comes not from facts but when our emotions are engaged. They craft their copy and words to appeal to our emotions whilst bypassing our reason and logic.  Reason/logic combined with emotions are a powerful force for common sense and keeping out of unnecessary transactions!

I know this may seem obvious but if it worked every time, many salesmen and online marketers would be out of a job.  They know our vulnerabilities and target them.

Enjoy shopping; buy books, read them and apply their knowledge; enjoy the bargains; benefit from ‘once in a lifetime offers’ but do so from a position of security and control. 

And if all else fails and you’re not sure, practice saying “No”.  The world will rarely come to an end if you do miss a bargain.

Until next time …

My Zimbio
KudoSurf Me!

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Sometimes Our Path is Far From Certain

Just a minute. Can I please sit down.

I hated interrupting conversations with enthusiastic reptile fans, but on this lovely August day, in a garden centre in Wolverhampton, indigestion was getting the better of me for the third or fourth time that morning. The rest of the day was largely uneventful, except for a few more of these interruptions.

I drove home to Loughborough without any further discomfort.

2am the following morning, sitting in Emergency & Resuscitation at Leicester Royal Infimary A&E, the doctor on duty smiled & said, “Well, you’ve had a heart attack.”

I was 58.

Where was God?

3 Months later I underwent open-heart surgery, with an immediate return to theatre for emergency surgery to stem post-operative internal bleeding.

Things were not going my way.

Where was God?

A few touch & go moments & a host of complications later & things were not looking good. Getting out of bed took every ounce of energy I had & left me drained. The pain from my surgery was compounded by the fact that I react badly to opiate drugs: my mainstay of pain relief was paracetamol. I was going downhill.

Where was God?

I left hospital 16 days after surgery, weak, disorientated, totally without energy, hardly able to breathe after climbing the stairs.

Where was God?

One week later I was being driven to Sheffield by my lovely friend Derek, accompanied by my teenage children. We were going to see Chris Rea in concert. I couldn’t even handle the voice of Derek’s satnav & bent his ear several times. How would I enjoy the concert?

Where was God

God was in ALL of the situations I questioned & the traumas I endured. He was there holding my hand. Even when I was literally in the ‘valley of the shadow of death’ He was by my side.

Did I feel him?

I don’t think I did; not in a conscious way.

Did I hear him speak into my situation?

No. Not directly.

Was I frightened?

To be honest, I am not sure that I was well enough to even contemplate fear. 

What I do know is that from the very day of my unknown (to me) heart attack through to today, including re-hospitalisations & daily side effects, God WAS & IS there.

Faith is sometimes described as being certain of the things we cannot see. My faith was tested. I had plenty of questions & I had few obvious answers: until, in hindsight, I can see his provision.

I would not have the depth of empathy that I have today had I not been honed by difficult times in my life (throw in a 2 year stint of serious depression from 1998 to 2000). We talk about sharpening stones, diamonds made from coal under extreme pressure, gold purified by fire. However, we want the end product without the process. We want the rewards without the pain. We want the victories without the battles. 

We are designed as social creatures. Our brain defaults, between tasks, to seeking out company; relationship; closeness. We are an important part of each other. If isolation & going it alone is good for us, why is solitary confinement used as a punishment? 
In short, WE NEED EACH OTHER: not just as Christian brothers & sisters, but as people.

My time of suffering was carried by friends visiting me in hospital & at home, giving up their valuable time to sit with me & often say very little, by friends understanding when I said I was too I’ll to be visited, by friends prepared to step into the  uncomfortable space of supporting a friend whilst having no answers or solutions, by friends who were prepared to give up their own time & step right outside their comfort zone to help, by friends who were there when I most needed them. Many of these friends would profess no faith or beliefs.

In fact I had more visits & contact from non-church friends than I did from those within the church.

God showed me His care through people.

Sometimes, the best way that we can be God’s hands, feet & voice is to simply do it; to be there, in all of our frailty, doubt & fear. We don’t always have the answers but we do all have an answer for that moment: putting our teachings, beliefs & faith into action, throwing aside our own desires & priorities. Demonstrating it through our actions.

Our friends don’t often want answers to their questions, solutions to their problems; fixing. They want God with them & a hand to hold. They want comfort. They want company. We are the most tangible & effective vehicle for that to happen.

Where was God?

He was, is & will be, right there.

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Struggling with a Narcissist in the UK?

Beautiful from the Outside – Toxic from Within

I quite often post articles & comments on dysfunctional relationships & how they can affect us.

I am sure many think, “Here goes Stuart again on his hobby-horse,” which is EXACTLY WHAT ABUSERS WANT.

Ignorance can be bliss: we don’t have to do anything about it.

The same ignorance that protects us from having to act, spells great danger to the victims of the abuser.

Ignorance (& ignoring) costs many lives each year.

Narcissists love the shadows, secrecy & general ignorance.

They hate being exposed.

The short articles below are written by UK legal professionals who deal with the victims of these toxic creatures. If legal people recognise there is an issue, you know it is serious.

Please read. Please absorb. Please act.

Discussing Narcissistic Personality Disorder (Definitions, Traits & Impacts)

Narcissistic Abuse

Divorcing a Narcissist

How to Cope with a Narcissist in The Family Justice System

Until next time, take care …

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Here’s To Another 2020! (said no-one, ever?)

2020: A Year of Testing; A Year of Learning

For many of us, 2020 was the personification of Hell.

We loved & we lost: friends, family, business, dignity, self-respect; even our hope.

Our prayer is that 2021 will be better, whatever that means to each one of us.

But 2020 was also a real educator.

I am reminded that, when everything goes well, we can become complacent: riding the wave; riding the journey, not noticing what is around us on the way. Simply looking forward to reaching where our destination: our wants; our pleasures; our gains.

Throughout history, the most educational & helpful times are also the most difficult & painful.

We rarely learn when things are going well.

It is in the darkness, the pressure, the loss, the change of direction, the pain, that we have to stop & listen: to others & to ourselves.

In a paradoxical world, obsessed with conformity, yet needing us to be best (so that we can be shot down) we have become so focused on fitting in, living according to other people’s agendas, that we have lost sight of WHO WE ARE & what WE HAVE TO OFFER OTHERS.

Read almost any of the great works throughout history & they are nearly all based on one thing: Challenge.

Carbon only becomes a diamond under great pressure. A diamond only becomes beautiful after it is cut. That diamond only becomes valuable when someone is prepared to make a sacrifice & pay the price.

Wars; disease; oppression; segregation; famine; isolation; genocide: the list is long. The list is ugly. The list is cruel. The list is unsettling. And yet, it is out of such pressure points, loss & injury that hope rises strong & defiant.

2021 promises much … as did 2020.

The truth is that we cannot predict the future. Nor can we live in it until we have been through the now. How the year unfolds is, in some ways, beyond our control. But, how we handle it, what we make of it & what it makes of us is firmly within our control.

In a time of the quick fix, short cut & need to be in control, perhaps we can take time to stop & consider, how & what we can learn: see how it can make us better people.

Auschwitz; Sarajevo; Syria; Nigeria; New York; Paris; London: they all have their stories of horror. But they also have been the birthplace of great hope, wisdom … & change.

2020 was, in so many ways, a terrible year.

But 2020 has also been a birthplace of hope & new beginnings, very often from the ashes of pain & loss.

It isn’t easy, but nothing of lasting value comes from easy.

We seek pleasure, but lose contentment. We seek possessions & wealth, but lose identity. We seek to be popular, but become isolated.

Look outward. See needs. See how you can use your gifts & talents (yes, everyone has them) for the benefit of others. Use them. Take time. Be amazed. From a friendly phone call to check up on someone who may feel isolated, to doing some shopping for a neighbour who cannot do it for themselves, to reminding people that they matter. It doesn’t have to big or heroic or costly.

In so doing, we find real contentment & joy: something that grows from within, rather than fleeting satisfaction & sense of importance that we feed from without.

I pray you all have a great 2021, whatever it may bring.

I also pray that we will be able to dig deep, find the gems & bring about positive change in ourselves & for others.


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You Are Enough

Wishing everyone a very Happy Christmas.

This year has been especially hard for many of us. We have lost loved ones, suffered set-backs, fought with health issues & many of us have felt the financial vice as business dried up.

I am reminded now, just as I was post-heart attack & post-heart surgery, that it is only when we are taken to places that we wouldn’t choose to be that we see the true value of life & what really matters.

I have made many new friends in the difficult places & lost a good few too, for all sorts of reasons.

In an age of partisan opinions, binary thinking & focus on the superficial, I hope that your journey through 2020 has helped sift the wheat from the chaff, the important from the urgent & needs from wants.

Christmas for me is a time of hope, where, good news entered an oppressed, lost & despairing world in the shape of a baby who still brings hope in despair, light in darkness & fulfilment in tribulations.

Amongst all the superficiality & glitzy trimmings, remember that you are enough: as you are, with all your insecurities & imperfections & you matter. Your value is in who you are, not what you own or have achieved. That is enough.

Peace & Goodwill to all.

Friendship, relationship & trust are beyond monetary value ❤❤

Burn Away the Fog: See & Enjoy What Really Matters
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Clouds Over Floods

Clouds Over Floods at the End of the Day

Evening sky over a flooded River Trent at Fiskerton.

Take care until next time …

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Peace Before the Storm

Calm Before the Storm

River Trent, Farndon, Nottinghamshire before an approaching storm.

Take care until next time …

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