The Mindful Midlife Crisis

Episode 82--How to Recover from Narcissistic Abuse with Jeanine Faith

January 25, 2023 Billy Lahr
The Mindful Midlife Crisis
Episode 82--How to Recover from Narcissistic Abuse with Jeanine Faith
Show Notes Transcript

In this week’s episode, Billy talks with Jeanine Faith,  a narcissistic abuse recovery expert and survivor of abuse. After going through her own trials with narcissistic abuse and meeting her mentor, she went back to school to receive her masters in psychology and has done over 5 years of private mentorship in behaviorism, attachment theory, and narcissism so she can help her clients heal and reclaim the truth of who they are after narcissistic abuse. She is here today to share her story and give listeners a step-by-step journey to healing and reclaiming their lives after narcissistic abuse.  

Billy and Jeanine discuss:
–Her life experiences as a dominatrix and shaman
–How she became a survivor of narcissistic abuse
–How she came to better understand narcissism through her human behavior studies
–How to properly identify a narcissist
–Her advice to people who are currently in an abusive relationship with a narcissist

Want more from Jeanine Faith?
Check out her Instagram or join her Designed to Love private Facebook group
Check out the article she mentioned: 20 Diversion Tactics Highly Manipulative Narcissists, Sociopaths And Psychopaths Use To Silence You

If you liked this episode, check out these episodes as well:
Episode 19--Compassionate Communication for Deeper, More Meaningful Relationships with Dr. Yvette Erasmus
Episode 71--Navigating Trauma Through Resilience with Dr. Shree Walker
Episode 72--Acts of Service As Self-Care with Dr. Lina Haji

All of our episodes are available at
Book a call with me:
Get a free week of BetterHelp using Billy's referral code!

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Billy: Coming up on The Mindful Midlife Crisis

Jeanine:  This person was my spiritual teacher and the person that I was going to for support on my own inner journey. And it was three years of this person planting seeds that I look back on now and go, oh my God, I didn't see that. I didn't see that at the time, but pulling me out of relationships, telling me that they weren't right for me, telling me that I deserved better, telling me that I was this, you know, amazing woman goddess, you know, embodied all sorts of things, like really building me up in one way, but pulling all these other people out of my life in another way at the same time. And then eventually having me enter three years later, entering into a romantic relationship with them where they had gained my trust. And within three weeks, it was, if you really love me, you'll do this for me.

If you really support me, you'll do that for me. If you're not willing to do this, it's because you have this trauma that I know about because I confide. You know, I confided in him so much. It's because you had this trauma in your life when you were younger, and it's holding you back from being able to move forward in your life and actually be the partner that you say you wanna be. All of a sudden, I'm like, well, you're right. Like I did have that trauma, and maybe it is holding me back because I was somebody that was committed to my personal development. I was somebody that was willing to look at myself, and he had built trust with me over time, so I believed him.

Billy:  Welcome to The Mindful Midlife Crisis, a podcast for people navigating the complexities and possibilities of life’s second half, I'm your host Billy Lahr, an educator, personal trainer, meditation teacher and Overthinker who talks to experts who specialize in social and emotional learning. Mindfulness, physical and emotional wellness, cultural awareness, finances, communication, relationships, dating and parenting, all in an effort to help us better reflect, learn, and grow so we can live a more purpose-filled life. Take a deep breath, embrace the present and journey with me through The Mindful Midlife Crisis.

Welcome to The Mindful Midlife Crisis. I'm your host, Billy Lahr. Thank you for tuning in wherever you are. The purpose of this show is to provide a platform that gives people the space and permission to share their expertise and life experiences in order to help others navigate the complexities and possibilities of life's second half. And remember, this free and useful information is helpful to people of all ages. Wisdom isn't about one's age. Wisdom comes from our ability to reflect, learn, and grow from our own life experiences, while also learning from the experiences of others, regardless of what stage of life we are in. And you just never know what life is gonna throw at you. So there just might be a story or two from past episodes that help you feel better prepared for the challenges you might face in life or that you're facing right now.

Whether those challenges be your emotional, mental, and or physical health, your relationships with others, including your partner and children, your career, your finances, whatever curve balls, life is throwing your way right now. Just know that you are not alone in your experience. And the conversations I'm having here are with people who have been there before or have done the research to help you navigate these situations with more awareness, openness, curiosity, and compassion so you can live a more purpose-filled life. And trust me, I take all these conversations, I'm having the heart as well, and I try to apply what I'm learning from these conversations, which is why I do those solo episodes the first Wednesday of every month, because I think of this show as a running dialogue between me and you, the listener, because my hope is that you can see and hear the growth I'm making in my own life, so that it inspires you to seek out the connections between our shared experiences so that you too can take intentional and inspired action.

So if you're looking for some ways to help you better navigate whatever you've got going on in your life from someone who's been through it before, check out some of the other episodes at or wherever you get your podcast. Just a quick trigger warning, this week's episode focuses on recovering from narcissistic abuse. So listener discretion is advised. We haven't covered this specific topic yet, but we have covered topics such as trauma and compassionate communication in the past. So if you want more episodes like that, be sure to check out episode 19 with Dr. Yvette Erasmus, where we discuss compassionate communication for deeper, more meaningful relationships. And episode 71 with Dr. Shree Walker, where we discuss navigating trauma through resilience. Both of these are excellent companion episodes for today's conversation. So let's meet today's guest. Our guest today is Jeanine Faith. Jeanine is a narcissistic abuse recovery expert and survivor of abuse. After going through her own trials with narcissistic abuse and meeting her mentor, she went back to school to receive her master's in psychology and has done over five years of private mentorship in behaviorism, attachment theory and narcissism so she can help her clients heal and reclaim the truth of who they are after narcissistic abuse. She is here today to share her story and give listeners a step-by-step journey to healing and reclaiming their lives after narcissistic abuse. So welcome to the show, Jeanine Faith.

Jeanine:  Thank you so much. I'm really excited to be here, Billy.

Billy:  Yeah, it's a lot of fun having you here. Narcissistic abuse isn't a fun situation, but it's fun for me to talk to you because when we kind of did our pre-call before, I was like, oh, this woman is a force of nature. <Laugh>. Thank you. Yeah, you really are. You have a very strong presence about you, and I'm really excited to get into this conversation. But before we do that, I'd like to have our guests talk about the 10 roles that they play in their life. So what are the 10 roles that you play in your life?

Jeanine:  Well, obviously I'm a business owner. I'm a woman, I'm a friend. I'm in love with books, so I consider myself a book nerd. I obsess over antiques, specifically in the art Navo, art deco area. I'm a swing dancer. I sing. I've had a long history as a salesperson. I love to cook and I travel around the world. So those are some of mine. I'm sure there's more, but that's a good place to get started.

Billy:  Yeah, that's a very renaissance woman of you here. There's the books, there's a swing dancing, there's the singing, there's the traveling, there is a zest for life and all of that. And you have some rather unique experiences that we'll dive into here in a little bit. As far as being a friend, why are you looking forward to being a friend in the second half of life?

Jeanine:  You know, I love this question specifically about being a friend because after everything that I've been through, what I've really found is the way that you can cultivate friendship is really the most important thing that you can have in life. Romance often can come and go. Family is what we've had growing up. Friendship is a place where you can go deeper in different areas than you would in romance. And so I've really enjoyed the friendships that I've developed over the past couple of years, and I'm really looking forward to those friends being like family for me throughout the rest of my life.

Billy:  I was actually curious if being a friend was related to your own experience and it, it very much sounds like that.

Jeanine:  It's something that I learned along the way through both my training and you know, my own personal healing. It's just the way that you can find people in your life who are your people that are friends, that can be there, that can fill many different types of roles and different personalities that you can trust. I just think those people are irreplaceable.

Billy:  So then we're gonna talk about your experience here, and you're gonna talk about the relationship that you have with your mentor, and now you too are a mentor and you're looking forward to being a business owner in the second half of life. What excites you about the work that you are doing to the point where you are really looking forward to the prospects that the second half of life has to offer? Business-Wise,

Jeanine:  If I'm able to help anyone the way that my mentor helped me, that for me is probably the closest thing to my heart, and that's what my business is, right? So anytime that I think about my business growing, the impact that it can have, and how any man or woman could heal in the way that I did and have someone stand by them in the way that my mentors stood by me, you're lucky I'm not crying already, <laugh>,

Billy:  When you think about the impact that a person can have on your life, right? Especially if you have gone through something traumatic, just having that somebody who believes in you or having that somebody who helps you heal. And I imagine the healing process has to come from recognizing a need to heal, recognizing that you deserve love, that sort of thing. And it sounds like your mentor has helped you through that. And you in turn then are extending gratitude to your mentor by helping others navigate through it too. And I relate to that quite a bit because that's why I'm starting to become a certified mindfulness teacher because my therapist introduced mindfulness to me and my way of extending gratitude to her for the life-changing experience that she provided for me is to learn more about mindfulness and to share it with others. And I imagine that's why you are growing your business with that approach, that mission in mind.

Jeanine:  Absolutely. Absolutely. I have <laugh>, I have incredible gratitude for my mentor. His response to that is consistently, you're the one that did the work, and I totally understand and appreciate that because you can't change someone's life without their permission In that way. I definitely feel incredibly grateful for him. And then also kind of like laugh in my head when I talk about it because I know that should he listen to this podcast later <laugh>, he'll just be like, you're the one that did it. You know, you're the one that showed up and did the work because there's only so far anyone can go right to help you if you're not willing.

Billy:  Well, when I described you as a force of nature, I think your next response rate here suggests like why you left that impression on me. Because one of the roles that you're most looking forward to in the second half of life is being a woman. There is a strong sense of feminism right there, <laugh> in that. So why are you looking forward to being a woman than the second half of life?

Jeanine:  Well, knowing myself as a woman is what leads me in every other area of my life. Knowing myself as a woman is what allows me to be a friend. Knowing myself as a woman is what allows me to be a business owner that can help and mentor other people. If I don't have a sense of who I am in myself, then I can't lead others in the way that I want to in my work. And I can't show up as the friend that I wanna be. Also, because if I don't know that, then I might be compromising myself. I might go into people pleasing, I might, you know, hide some aspect of me. So the more that I can be who I am as a woman and be really honest about it, I think the more those in my life will benefit from having me in their life.

Billy:  I imagine that then comes back to just the real necessity to do the work, to really understand who you are and understanding the why of, of who you are.

Jeanine:  A hundred percent. And it doesn't stop. I didn't get to a place where I'm like, oh, I'm healed. I'm done now <laugh>.

Billy:  Right? Right. There's a continu of of the evolution, right? I always talk about reflect, learn, grow. And every day is an opportunity to reflect, learn, grow as we continue to invest in ourselves.

Jeanine:  Absolutely. And we all know that as we age and things change and life changes and life happens to us, we have more opportunities to learn who we are and who we wanna be. We could change our mind, right? There might be something that we were interested in at one point in our lives. And as we grow and age and mature, it's no longer interesting to us. It's played out. So I think you always have to be spending time getting to know who you are, whether that's what your interests are, or who you wanna spend time with, or how you wanna spend your time, or just understanding the nature of your own thought process and why you make the choices that you do. There's a lot to explore <laugh>,

Billy:  And we're gonna explore all of that here. So what we're gonna do is we're gonna take a quick break and then when we come back, we're gonna talk to Jeanine about her experiences with narcissistic abuse and how she now helps people navigate through the healing process of narcissistic abuse. Thank you for listening to The Mindful Midlife Crisis

Thank you for listening to The Mindful Midlife Crisis. If you're enjoying what you've heard so far, please do me a favor and hit the subscribe button. Also, giving the show a quick five star review with a few kind words, helps others find and benefit from this podcast just like you are. Finally, please spread the wealth of free knowledge and advice in this episode by sharing it with the people in your life who may find this information and my mission to help others live a more purpose-filled life valuable.

My hope is that these conversations resonate with others and inspire people to live their best lives. Thanks again. And now back to the show. Welcome back to The Mindful Midlife Crisis. We are here with Jeanine Faith, narcissistic abuse, recovery expert and survivor of abuse. You can go to her Facebook group, which is designed to love, so you can check it out there, see if that's for you. Before we get into your story with narcissistic abuse, you have had a couple of interesting life experiences that I do wanna dive into a little bit here. So can you tell us about your time as a dominatrix and your time as a shaman? Because those seem like two very different worlds, <laugh>, right? Like they are on two ends of the spectrum. I'm curious how those shaped your relationships moving forward. And I'm all also curious if you see parallels in those experiences in the work that you do now.

Jeanine:  Sure. Yeah, let's talk about that <laugh>. So let's start with the dominatrix piece. That's something that I explored over 20 years ago, right? So it was a long time ago for me, that world, and you know, we hear about it way more now than we did back then, especially with the rise of the internet and everything. That's something that people are more familiar with, but it's changed a lot. And it was something that I explored because I was around it a lot in the bar scene. I was a bartender. I lived on an area of Philadelphia where it was kind of prevalent. So I got exposed to that world and got the opportunity to train in it. And then ultimately was like, ah, don't think I wanna do these things. <Laugh>, right? It wasn't really the right fit for me. It was more attractive to me because it seemed sort of like an interesting thing to do. It was maybe kind of glamorous. The women that I knew that were doing it were making a lot of money at the time. I was drawn to it for those reasons and ultimately did not find what I was looking for <laugh> in, in that area.

Billy:  What is the training like? What is the curriculum for a dolphin matrix? It's what, very curious about this as an educator, I want to know what is the curriculum that is involved in being a dominatrix?

Jeanine:  Sure. So what I actually did was I just spent time with a woman who was a dominatrix, and she took me with her to her different sessions and showed me how she did things. It might be very different now, I'm sure it is, but that's all it really entailed at that time. And she just introduced me to a couple of different people that could have been potential clients. And like I said, ultimately I decided that there were aspects of that that weren't right for me and didn't really pursue it for any considerable amount of time.

Billy:  What were some of the aspects that made you uncomfortable? Why did you feel like it wasn't for you?

Jeanine:  I don't think, for me, the world of kink or dominance in a way that hurts people is something that I'm interested in, right? It's just not something that I think I could stand in a room and whip someone, for example, that for their own reasons is enjoying that potentially and has asked for it. But I think I would stand there and be sad <laugh>, so, right. It really wasn't the type of thing that I felt comfortable with because I wouldn't actually wanna inflict harm on someone. And that was a lot of what it was. And that for me wasn't what I kind of had. I don't know what I thought it was gonna be like. Again, I was in a very, very early twenties, so I don't know what I thought it was gonna be like, but I found out very quickly that that wasn't something that I could do and keep a straight face and not get upset and

Billy:  Yeah. Well, I wanna circle back around to that point here after you share your story, but you also told me that you were a shaman, right? So what was that experience like? Because I know that that has shaped <laugh>, your attitude towards energy work, <laugh>.

Jeanine:  Yeah. So I am, I'm happy to talk about this because I think what you don't know until I say this is how significant this is to the narcissistic conversation.

Billy:  Oh, okay. I did not know that. So this would be good.

Jeanine:  Right? So the way that I got into shamanism and started participating in that work was as a result of having gone through so much manipulation by the person that I was in a relationship with, that I had actually changed my own personality, which is very common when you're dealing with somebody who's going through narcissistic abuse. I changed my own personality so much to try to become like this person, because that is what a narcissist tries to do. They try to get you to become just like them, like a mini version of who they are and conform to all their thoughts and ideas. And because of that, I started to do that. And that is how I started practicing shamanism.

Billy:  That is such a powerful statement right there, because as a dominatrix, you had such self-awareness that you knew that this was not for you. And you and I had a little conversation about just kind of your overall impression about energy work and that sort of thing and I imagine that maybe some of that is a byproduct of being subjected to something that you were manipulated into. But then the power of narcissistic abuse is that you at one point in time had such self-awareness that you knew that this wasn't for you but as a result of the narcissistic abuse, you gravitated towards something that just was not for you. And you continue to pursue it until you realize, oh wait, this, I need, I need to get away from this. This is, this is not for me. I need to heal from this.

Jeanine:  Right. And it's an interesting thing with narcissistic abuse, right? Because it's subtle. People think, oh, why would you ever be in a narcissistically abusive relationship? Why wouldn't you just walk away? We hear that all the time, right? With most abuse, we hear that, and we hear it even more often with narcissistic abuse a lot of the time, because if there's no bruises, people don't really understand what's happening. And psychological manipulation is a really powerful thing, and it starts really, really small. So when you're dealing with somebody that you trust that you think you can believe when they say things to you, and then slowly they just start tearing down at who you are and make you believe that who you are is not worthy, and then start trying to mold you into who they want you to be.

Billy:  So with hindsight being 2020 and the healing process that you've gone through, what's the story then of your narcissistic abuse journey? Like, you know, what were some of those microaggressions of psychological abuse that this person used, and how did that impact you and how did it change you? Because I mean, I feel like impact and change changes the result of impact over time. 

Jeanine:  Yeah. So I initially met my ex through a new age community. What ended up happening was I was going through a divorce because I knew that I wasn't happy and I was trying to find answers about who I was. And the thing about a narcissist is that they are very good at taking advantage of people who are going through transition. So a lot of the time, if you talk to somebody that's gone through abuse and you asked them to go back to the time where they met the person and you asked them what was going on in their life, there was some sort of something happening, right? Some sort of transition in their life that they were going through where this person came in and took advantage. So in that very beginning phase, this person was my spiritual teacher and the person that I was going to for support on my own inner journey.

And it was three years of this person planting seeds that I look back on now and go, oh my God, I didn't see that. I didn't see that at the time, but pulling me out of relationships, telling me that they weren't right for me, telling me that I deserved better, telling me that I was this, you know, amazing woman goddess, you know, embodied all sorts of things. Like really building me up in one way, but pulling all these other people out of my life in another way at the same time. And then eventually having me enter three years later, entering into a romantic relationship with them where they had gained my trust. And within three weeks it was, if you really love me, you'll do this for me. If you really support me, you'll do that for me. If you're not willing to do this, it's because you have this trauma that I know about because I confide, you know, I confided in in him so much. It's because you had this trauma in your life when you were younger, and it's holding you back from being able to move forward in your life and actually be the partner that you say you wanna be. All of a sudden I'm like, well, you're right. Like I did have that trauma and maybe it is holding me back because I was somebody that was committed to my personal development. I was somebody that was willing to look at myself, and he had built trust with me over time. So I believed him.

Billy:  I am blown away at the long game, the patience to build you up for three years and then engage you into a romantic relationship. Like I'm out after like a week if somebody die, <laugh>. Like it's, that is incredible to me. The amount of patience that I, I, I'm almost speechless to the point of that. So then is he doing this to other people during that time without your awareness

Jeanine:  Percent? A hundred percent. The thing about it, right, is you're like, oh, he played the long game. I'm like, he was playing the long game with probably 10, 15, 20 women. He was in a relationship at the time. So there was no reason for me to suspect that he was interested in me romantically in any way. Matter of fact, he'd make a point of saying that he wasn't. Right. So, but he was just planting the seeds, planting the seeds, planting the seeds as a narcissist does so that they will always have supply. So I just happened to be there at the right moment, at the right time when he wanted it. And he had already planted the seeds with me, but if it hadn't been me, it would've been someone else.

Billy:  As I was explaining the patient's part, it dawned me like, oh, he wasn't playing the long game. He was just waiting for you to be vulnerable enough to be lured in. Meanwhile, he was already working the angle with somebody else who had already fallen parade to his charms, that kind of thing.

Jeanine:  Absolutely. And planting the seeds with other people at the same time. So by the time I left the relationship that he and I were in, he had someone else within two weeks.

Billy:  So how do you get out of that relationship? How does that relationship end?

Jeanine:  For me personally, I found an article on the internet, I still have it, that had a list of 20 different behaviors that you'll find in a narcissistic person. And I read it because I'm curious and because I like psychology, and that was part of who I am anyway. And so I opened it up and I'm reading it and I'm going, check, check, check, check. And it was one of those moments, and a lot of people have this moment, like after they leave this type of relationship where you go, oh, that's what's happening. Because it's not that you're in the relationship and you don't realize there's a problem. You're not naive to the fact that there's a problem, but you're working to solve it. You want to rebuild the relationship, you wanna make things right. You want to find a way to be with the person and have everything be happy and calm.

And they're always moving the cheese. It's confusing because you're like, I'm trying to do the work. I wanna show up for my partner. I can't make this work. I've done all of these things. I had done so much stuff, like the list of things that I had done to try to make this relationship work as insane. And nothing changed, nothing I ever did changed the way the relationship was happening. And all of a sudden when I found out, I was like reading these list of things, I went, oh, that's why. And it's never going to change. And so for me, it was that moment. It was like all of a sudden I had all the puzzle pieces, I could see the whole picture, and I realized what was happening and I was planning my exit strategy. Now, it took me probably six months before I fully and completely left. It took me some time before I actually got on a plane, flew away. It took me another three months before I went. No contact

Billy:  After that. How long were you in the relationship?

Jeanine:  I was in the relationship almost three years to the day. Yeah. Wow.

Billy:  So what is that three-month communication like after you leave and you know, how do you instill the fortitude to stand your ground? Because I imagine that you're going through this transition and there's a lot of uncertainty in there. And so you could go back to what's comfortable, even though it's incredibly uncomfortable, but it's what, you know, how do you manage the fortitude to say, you know, I'm sticking to this, even though I imagine those communication, he's trying to lure you back in.

Jeanine:  Absolutely. So the first time I left, I went back after six weeks. So I left about midway through and I did go back and I believe that it was gonna get better this time that I left. I was just done. And I think part of it for me was that I knew why. So in my mind, I knew that it was not gonna be able to change and that supported me. But at the same time, what was happening was I was still getting frequent emails and text message and, and do this for me and do that for me. And I need your help and I need this and I need that. And then I didn't talk to him for a little bit cause I told him I needed time to heal. And then I started talking to him again. And then in that process it was like, Hey, I want you to come on this trip with me and I want us to heal together.

And I've been doing my inner work and I've been looking at things and I realized where I went wrong and I've really changed and I wanna make this better. And my question was, well, what changed? Like what did you realize and what do you think has changed? And his answer was completely inadequate. It had nothing to do with what had really been going on. He told me something like he was working too much and not giving me enough attention. And I was like, well, that wasn't really the problem, <laugh>. So I very kindly said, you know, I don't think we're good for one another. I don't think that this is the right fit, and I don't want to try to reconcile our relationship. And he went completely off the handle. And then it was, I'm angry. It's all because I have anger issues. I need to see a therapist.

There's something wrong with me. I don't know how to heal. I don't know how to move on. It was in that moment of that personal attack when I had been kind that I just knew there was just no way. Like I was just done being treated that way. Now I know it's a lot harder for other people. Sometimes I know that people feel really bonded and then they miss the person. And the intermittent reinforcement that often happens where they give you criticism, criticism, criticism, and then all of a sudden you have a good day and then you know, and then you feel good and then they criticize again and everything gets ugly again. And then you have another good day. Like you're chasing, almost like an addiction. It makes you wanna chase the connection for when it's good again. And that's done intentionally in the relationship to keep you going. Often when people are leaving, they are experiencing that push pull feeling of, oh God, I miss them. I wanna be with them. I wanna be with them. That feels like an addiction. And it's very, very hard to go no contact. So I actually teach people ways to go no contact so that they can have a plan for when that urge comes and actually enact the plan to support themselves. So they're not trying to figure out how to convince themselves not to do it in the moment of feeling like they want to.

Billy:  You almost have to go cold Turkey rather than wean yourself off. Because if you wean yourself off, the dangers of being lured back in with just that one right comment exists right there. So it's just gotta be straight no contact, which likened it to an addiction. You go through the withdrawals right? And just how much that impacts you physically, emotionally. I feel like that addiction analogy is dead on because you're right, you're chasing that dopamine fix. Cuz I don't know if this was a narcissistic relationship that I was in, but I was in a relationship with somebody who, if I were to say like I felt emotionally abusive and that's what I was chasing was the good times. And so I would push through all of the times that this person made me feel like shit in hopes that we would get back to a good time, back to a time when we were feeling good about being in a relationship with each other.

So there are aspects of it, not to the extent that you faced, but there are aspects of that that connect to my own relationship there. And there was a lot of residue from that. And I imagine that's very much what you went through. And after you went through that, it's almost like you became a student of human behavior, like you wanted to learn more about this. So can you talk a little bit about the work you've done to better understand narcissism and what you've uncovered about human behavior in that research? I know a big part of that has to do with your relationship with your mentor, and you've mentioned him a couple times. So can you talk about what role did your mentor play in helping you heal?

Jeanine:  I mean, he is the reason I healed, and to be perfectly honest, when I left the relationship, I didn't know how bad things were for me. I didn't realize how lost I was. I was so relieved to be out of the daily abuse and to just be living life on my own terms that I didn't realize how devastated I was and how impacted I had been and how much my personality had changed, and how much self-worth I had lost. Because in my mind, I had clawed my way outta that relationship, right? With the fire that I have inside of me. Like you say, I'm a force of nature. That is me, right? Like there has always been that part of me inside of me. And I use that to get myself out. And so in a way, I was proud of myself. I was happy to be gone.

I was several thousand miles away. I had friends around me, I had family around me. And it wasn't until I started traveling around Europe by myself, and I was at a festival, and I ran into my mentor. I mean, call it dok, call it God's grace, depending on what your belief system is. I met him and he was able to see in me that something was wrong. And the way that he identified that was through behaviorism, because the way that I was speaking was not in alignment with the way that I was responding to different scenarios or the way that I was moving. So he was like, there's an incongruency here that's interesting. Why is that there? And so we developed a relationship and through that there was the healing process, right? So I learned initially through my own experience and then through more formal training with him. But it was tough because trusting somebody after you've been through narcissistic abuse is insanely difficult. For me in particular, trusting a man was that much harder because what does this person want from me?

Billy:  I was just gonna say that I got chills just thinking, oh my gosh, like what if this was part two? And I imagine that there was apprehension. There has to be, because once again, he has to build trust in the same way as your abuser did in the sense that he's, I mean, not in the same way, but is building trust,

Jeanine:  Right?

Billy:  With a different purpose, you know?

Jeanine:  Yeah. I can tell you how he did, how, because he understood one of the things that he implemented immediately was a refusal to see me in person. So our entire relationship during that time was conducted through email, if you can believe that it was done over email, and he would not see me in person. So demonstrate to me what it meant to have a powerful boundary. Now, I didn't know or understand that at the time. I know that now. I did not know that then. But he held such strict, strict boundaries with me to demonstrate that and to also show me that there was nothing that I could give to him. He didn't need anything from me, not even my physical presence as a friend. And that's how I came to know that there was no way he was gonna take advantage of me. And then alongside of that, every single thing he taught me, he'd send me studies, he'd show me evidence, he'd tell me to research it, he'd tell me to verify everything.

It was like, I am not here just telling you what my opinion is. Like these are the facts, this is how it works. And so, because I am who I am, and I'm like, okay, well let me read cause mentioning the book nerd thing or earlier, right? Right. Because I'm that way and because I was hungry for healing, and I felt like in my core, even though I was terrified many, many times in this situation with him, I was, I was genuinely scared that he might be taking advantage of me in some way or manipulating me in some way. There was something inside of me that said, no, this man is helping you. And I would just go and I would do the research and I would look and I would verify everything that he said, and I'd be like, okay. So over time, he's the person I trust most in the world. Now,

Billy:  It's so interesting that the email piece helped you trust him, because that would've been a huge red flag for me because I, it is without like this person's catfishing me, but you had met this person in person originally, and then they had set this boundary. So, oh, so fascinating because I imagine that especially for your survivors, that you're working with that for you, you know, how do you build that trust in them, and how do they allow that trust in you too? So that's so fascinating to me. So I think we'll do this. That's a pretty intense story right there. So we'll take a quick break and then when we come back, we'll get some more answers to those questions that we just asked. Thank you for listening to The Mindful Midlife Crisis. Thank you for listening to The Mindful Midlife Crisis. New episodes come out every Wednesday to help you get over the midweek hump.

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Welcome back to The Mindful Midlife Crisis. We are here with Jeanine Faith in Jeanine is a narcissistic abuse recovery expert. She just shared her story of surviving narcissistic abuse, her recovery from that. And she's here today to share her story and give listeners a step-by-step journey to healing and reclaiming their lies after narcissistic abuse. If you want more information from her, you can join her Facebook page, which is designed to love. Narcissism has become kind of a buzzword. When we talked to Dr. Lina Haji, she mentioned that, and she does this thing called trendy term Thursday, right, where she talks about these words that are overused. And she talked about how only 1.6% of people are actually diagnosed narcissist. So why are we seeing words like narcissist and gaslighting, which was Miriam Webster's word of the Year so often, and how does that then dilute the conversation? Or does that actually bring more awareness to it?

Jeanine:  There's a lot of pieces in this, Billy, like a lot of pieces. So I think one of the reasons that we're hearing so much about this is because of social media, right? Social media has actually been a contributor according to studies now, to an increase in narcissism, not are we seeing people become more narcissistic because of social media? We're also have the ability to share this information widely, and now people are grasping onto manipulative behaviors and then labeling them as being narcissism. So I think that's a lot of what's happening where someone will go, well, he cheated on me, he's a narcissist, or she cheated on me, he's an, you know, she's a narcissist. All sorts of different things. They were gaslighting me. Well, gaslighting does not automatically equate to somebody being a narcissist. It's a behavior that can happen in narcissism, but it does not automatically equate to that. So I think the conversation is bringing awareness and awareness is important. However, when we call people narcissists that are not narcissists, we give permission to people who are actually narcissists to behave in even more extreme ways. And it can be extremely dangerous, and we need to be careful.

Billy:  How so?

Jeanine:  Because it gives them permission, right? So they see, oh, gaslighting, everybody gaslights, everybody gaslights, everybody does these toxic behaviors. Everybody blame shifts, everybody triangulates. And so they can escalate their behavior because it's being normalized too much.

Billy:  Oh, interesting. Let's kind of set the record straight here. What are some of the characteristics of a narcissist and what separates a narcissist from your run-of-the-mill asshole

Jeanine:  <Laugh>? There's nine qualities that define somebody with narcissistic personality disorder, right? So there are gonna be grandiosity fantasies of unlimited power or ideal love or success beliefs that they're special and they can only associate with special people. They require excessive admiration. They have a sense of entitlement, they have a lack of empathy, which is something that is, I think, one of the hardest things for people to understand. They're envious of others, or they think people should be envious of them, and they have arrogant kind of hot tea behaviors, right? So those are the D S M criteria or narcissistic personality disorder in combination with like, it has to be negatively impacting somebody's life as well, which is hard to determine. Right?

Billy:  And do they need all nine of those characteristics, or do they need four of the five or one of the nine, or what, what,

Jeanine:  Five or more? Five or more. Five or more. It's, and you'll find a most of them, I, in my experience, when I people start talking about it, I'm like check, check, check, check, check. I haven't heard very many people with like only three. But that's just me personally, <laugh>. And to be very, very clear, to be very, very clear, I do not diagnose narcissists. That is not what my role is. That is not what I do. But I'm familiar with what is required. And the thing is, people mistake, like I said, gaslighting or blame shifting or toxic behaviors, some of these things that can be associated with trauma as automatically being a narcissist. People who have the trauma can change. They can get help. They can go to a therapist. They genuinely apologize. They realize that they're wrong. They experience guilt. A narcissist doesn't, they're not walking around going like, oh, I shouldn't have done that. Like, they see you crying, and they're like, yes. Whereas somebody that's toxic and a jerk might in that moment might be like, let's say they don't care and then come back an hour later and just be completely humiliated by their own behavior,

Billy:  A lack of self-awareness you know, one thing you mentioned there is the feeling of grandiosity, right? And on your Instagram, well, actually I wanna talk about your Instagram and your TikTok a little bit because you have an Instagram, you have a TikTok, and you have your Facebook group. But I was telling you, I like to research. My guess it is really hard to find information about you. And you said that that is very intentional. So can you talk about why is that intentional? I imagine it very much has a lot to do with recovery.

Jeanine:  Yes. And protection in general. If I'm gonna be working with people who have been in a relationship with a narcissist, and should that narcissist happen to break into their Facebook or their Instagram or their TikTok and come across me and gather my information, that could be a dangerous situation for me. So it's important that I protect myself.

Billy:  Have you run into situations like that before? Or because you are so intentional, have you avoided that?

Jeanine:  I have avoided that. I'm very intentional. It's not that I haven't seen people trying to get into my world that are still in relationship in one way or another with my ex that has happened, I'm aware of it. And so I don't know for those reasons too. Like I don't ever know when something could come back around. I don't know if he could hear me on this podcast, right? And then all of a sudden I am under fire again. It's entirely possible. So I do what's necessary for me to protect myself.

Billy:  Understandable. And dozens and dozens of people listen to this podcast. So I think <laugh> <laugh>, going back to what I was gonna ask before, you'd mentioned grandiosity, right? And your bio on Instagram reads that you help high earning men and women pick up the pieces after narcissistic abuse. Do you find that narcissism is more prevalent in financially successful people? Or maybe not even financially successful people, but just successful people in general? Because I'm wondering if there's some truth to this idea that their narcissism is what drives them to be the best or drives them to be successful, quote unquote, because then they can control the outcomes at all costs. Or am I conflating bravado with narcissism?

Jeanine:  Well, in that situation, so a narcissist can be any level of intelligence and any socioeconomic factor, right? It's not that we see it with more high earning people necessarily. It can be anywhere. Because you have to figure, a narcissist comes into the world just like anyone else, with their personality, with their environment, with their parents, they become narcissists. And that could mean that they're smart. It could mean that they're average. It could mean that they're lower level of intelligence. It could mean anything. So the reason that I specifically focus on high earning survivors is because I find that those are the people who are less inclined to talk about it. They have more shame around it. For some reason, they feel like they have more to lose because of whatever their status might be. Like, if we were to hear that some high level c e O were to come out and say that they were narcissistically abused, like what would happen to them in their professional life?

The communities, you know, the country club people don't believe they look the other way. Oh, but your life looks so great. You had everything, you had, the money you had, you know, maybe the fame, whatever it might be. And so it just becomes this thing that people don't talk about. And then we make this really big deal about it, right? Like when we see celebrity people come out and talk about abuse, we're like, oh gosh, look at the, you know, and really, they're not different than anybody else, but they are often less supported in what their experiences are as a result. So I specifically speak to that, to try to give a safe place for people who are higher earning, to feel like they can come and talk.

Billy:  So one of the things that you recognize in your dominatrix days is that you didn't wanna subject people to that pain, that humiliation. And I was gonna ask you about the power dynamics, and because there's a power dynamic of being a dominatrix, there's a power dynamic in narcissism, and I was curious what the relationship between the two were <laugh>, and you just shut that down right away, because the answer to that is what? Consent. Yeah. It was so simple that it didn't even register with me, right? In that power dynamic in the dominatrix, you're consenting to that behavior, whereas in narcissism, you're not. So then when you look back at like, I, I don't want to treat people this way, do you say to yourself, I allowed this person to treat me for so long, or, or how do you, because you talked about guilt and shame. How do you perceive that? How do you look at that? Because like I said, very much this force of nature, and yet you had these boundaries in place, and then this happens to you. How do you reflect on that? How do you process through that? And how do you help people navigate those emotions of maybe guilt and shame so that they realize this wasn't your fault?

Jeanine:  So it's a really great question. For me personally, now, I look back and I say, what a great experience, <laugh>. Look at how much that taught me. <Laugh>. Look at how much that taught me. Look what I get to do in the world Now. Look at the path that it's led me down. I may not have met, like my mentor, who's one of the most important people in the world to me now. Like I wouldn't change anything at this point in my life in terms of what ha has happened. So one of the first things that I do when I work with people is what I call the research phase. And the research phase is actually learning how strategic narcissists are learning to identify their strategies, understanding how to identify manipulation, when it's happening, how it happens, and be able to be prepared for that for anything in the future.

Now, what happens when you actually learn the behavior of a narcissist is you start to see all the different things that you went through that you didn't realize that you went through. And you can't, I don't wanna say nobody ever blames themself for that, but there's a huge awakening into the holy crap. I had no idea. Like I had no idea. And you can see how somebody got past your boundaries. It doesn't mean that you won't have sadness about it. It doesn't mean that you won't have shame about it. But when you can see it so clearly later and you realize that you didn't know, there was no way you could have known it relieves some of that pressure that you put on yourself. And the reality is that people who have really gone through narcissistic abuse are already blaming themselves anyway. I mean, that's what happens the whole time. So just, we have to take the time to unravel it.

Billy:  You provide this research for your clients. You had this article and it was this awakening, but I imagine people are so manipulated that they don't even recognize that they're in that situation. Why? Was it because that article very well could have just fallen on deaf ears, so to speak, right? When you read it, you're kind of giving me like, no, I don't know, but I don't know. So were you so far along within it that you were just exhausted and you're like, there's something here that I can't put my finger on, and then boom, this article shows up and you're like, oh, it's this. Whereas maybe if you had received that article two years prior to that, you might've dismissed it.

Jeanine:  No, I think I would've, I had seen it two years prior. I think I would've

Billy:  Interesting.

Jeanine:  I think I would've known You're living it, right? So it's one of those things where I've never met anyone that was in a narcissistically, abusive relationship that didn't know there was a problem. Every single person I've spoken to knew there was a problem. They just didn't know what it was. Maybe they'd never even heard of what narcissism was, right? They'd never heard the term narcissist before. They didn't know it meant something that was diagnosable, right? They thought it was just like, oh, that person's arrogant. Like they didn't really know. And so they're having this experience. They know something. They always know that something's wrong. I mean, always is an exaggeration. I can't say that. But they know that something is wrong most of the time. They just can't put their finger on why. That's most often what happens. So I don't think there's very many people that are in the relationship completely blind to the fact that there's a problem. It's just that they don't know what's named the problem. And often they don't know how to leave, or they're terrified to leave.

Billy:  So it sounds like a well-written research article is more powerful than a friend saying, Hey, this is a bad situation rate here. Cause I know that you kind of got disconnected from friends. It rather intentionally. Did you have friends saying, Jeanine, this dude's no good.

Jeanine:  Oh my God, everybody <laugh>.

Billy:  Right? So then everybody <laugh>. So then how come that falls on deaf ears? And this article resonated with you? Is it because the article had the language to accurately identify the specific behaviors that you were experiencing?

Jeanine:  For me, yes. Because when friends were saying things to me or family, even, my response to it was, well, they just don't know him and they don't understand, because there was a disconnect, right? They weren't spending time with him. They didn't know him, they weren't around. So it was like, oh, well they just don't get it. They just don't understand. They're not here. And so I was able to dismiss that. But when I could see, like you said, the very specific behaviors, and then that question in my mind of like, what is wrong? Like, why can't this ever get better? Like, why doesn't this ever get better? When that question was able to be answered, it made sense to my mind in a way that I personally needed. Like I needed to have that answer for myself to be able to take the action that I needed to take and leave.

Billy:  So we've talked about the action that people need to take in order to leave. What steps do you take to help people pick up the pieces once they've left an abusive relationship with a narcissist? You talked about you have them do the research. What are some of the other components of the work that you do?

Jeanine:  So the research is where we start so that they understand fully how to protect themselves. Because when you can understand fully how to protect yourself and you know that you can keep yourself safe, you can actually go deeper into the part where you have to go into acceptance.

Billy:  So here's a question about that. Do you find recidivism where people were in a narcissistic relationship and then they're more susceptible to falling back into another narcissistic relationship? Are people to talk about that? Because I was gonna ask you, is there a personality type you had talked about people who are kind of in a crossroads in their life, or in a transition or in a vulnerable place? I imagine people pleasers, people who don't have a lot of boundaries are very easy. You know, I hate to use the word targets for narcissists, but I imagine that's kind of who they are able to draw in more easily.

Jeanine:  I would call these people the feelers. So

Billy:  IPASS and feelers, okay.

Jeanine:  People who process information through their emotions could be more susceptible. They're not the only people that could be manipulated. People can be manipulated in all different ways. It's finding someone's weakness. But often when I'm talking to people, I find that there was guilt or they felt bad in a particular type of way, and that's part of what kept them going. But people can be manipulated in all the different ways that we process information. There's no limitations there. But I do see people who get compromised emotionally a lot. And you are more likely to enter into another narcissistic relationship if you've had one, because it is the comfort and familiarity that you experience and you don't know how to identify it. It's already gotten past you in some sort of way.

Billy:  So then you, in a sense, are the safety net to make sure that it doesn't happen again. So I had cut you off there cuz you had said something that I really wanted to get the answer to. So then we'll continue on with those steps.

Jeanine:  Yeah. So the research, like I had said, is the first phase so that they can really understand how to protect themselves because they're able to identify it and they are also able to create a strategy and a plan for how they'll take care of themselves if they're in that experience again, so that they can feel like they're safe. Then we go into the stage where you're in acceptance and acceptance is where the grieving process happens and you start looking at what you've actually gone through and really fully accepting that the person that you were with is a narcissist. It's one thing to say, my ex is a narcissist, and it was hard and to, but to really fully accept it, you have to be able to admit to yourself how manipulated you were. You have to be able to admit to yourself that the relationship that you thought you had was a lie.

You have to be able to admit to yourself that you loved that person, but that person did not ever love you. And all of that is really painful and there's a lot of grief that comes with it. And there's the time lost in a relationship with somebody where you could have been with somebody who really did love you. You could have been alone and loving yourself, right? There's time loss. A lot of people, you know, have children with narcissists. So there's all of that that has to be navigated. There are people who spend years with a narcissist and don't have children, and then those days have passed. I mean, there's so many different things that can happen that you have to grieve. Acceptance and grieving is the hardest and longest part of the healing process. So you go through that

Billy:  <Laugh>. So I'm gonna get you out on this. I am a believer that forgiveness is overrated. I though imagine that part of the acceptance is forgiveness of yourself for being in the relationship that sounds very victim blamey. So you could figure out a better way to say that, but just to forgive yourself for that situation, but not forgive the person for the abuse. So am I right in saying that forgiveness is a bit overrated in terms of forgiving others for our own healing? And then the reality is if we accept and forgive ourselves, that's when the real healing begins.

Jeanine:  I would agree with that. I don't think you need to forgive the narcissist in your life. That's not a requirement in order to heal. It's a personal choice, and some people do and and some people don't. I think in terms of forgiving yourself, I think I've said that I don't know that it's bullied the term that I would use so much as understanding yourself, right? Like when you actually grieve and then you start to understand what happened and the way that it happened in the manipulation that happened through that process is a huge self-awareness that develops. And when you start to understand yourself, you can start to then accept yourself as well and know why you do the things that you do. That is where I think if there is forgiveness, forgiveness happens if there's a need for it.

Billy:  Jeanine, this was such a fascinating conversation and this is why I was excited to have it with you. So thank you so much for your time. Thank you so much for sharing your story with us. Thank you for sharing your expertise with us. This is so valuable, and I really enjoyed it.

Jeanine:  Yeah, me too. Thank you so much for having me, Billy. I hope I get to come back again.

Billy:  Absolutely. We will make that happen. Hey, if you enjoyed this week's episode, be sure to look in the show notes for all of Jeanine’s contact information. Don't forget to subscribe to the show wherever you get your podcast. If you're an Apple listener, you can do that by clicking the plus sign in the upper right hand corner. Also, please do me a favor and leave a five star review with a few kind words. Or if you're a Spotify listener, click those five stars under the show art after you click the follow button. If you'd like to share your thoughts on this week's episode, you can find all of my contact information in the show notes as well. Feel free to email me your takeaways from this conversation at mindful midlife crisis You can also follow me and DM me on Instagram at mindful midlife underscore crisis.

I'm on LinkedIn as well. Just look for a Billy Lahr, it's l a h r, or you can send a message to the contact page at While you're there, feel free to sign up for the newsletter so you can get access to the free meditations I send out every single Sunday. Finally, I know Jeanine and I would greatly appreciate it if you would share this episode with the people in your life who may benefit from her expertise and life experiences. The purpose of this show is to help you navigate the complexities and possibilities of life's second half, and we hope this conversation provides you with some insight to help you reflect, learn, and grow. So with that, for Jeanine, this is Billy. Thank you for listening to The Mindful Midlife Crisis. Make you feel happy, healthy and loved. Take care, friends.