Our Winter Entrepreneurs are Energetic War Heroes. They are the pioneers in a new industry of healers emerging from both sides of the coin: the traditional healing arts and the western clinical approach. Ranging in age from 20s to 50s, these bright health warriors are sharing a little bit about their journeys to a new health care paradigm.
SYJ: How is your work classified by the world at large, and what message do you hope to share through it?
Lisa A Romano: I would say the world sees my work as a form of codependency recovery, but it is so much more than that. When you awaken and discover that you are codependent, you also become aware that you were asleep, and that your life was on autopilot.
The message I wish to impart is rather simple yet very profound. If we were born to dysfunctional parents, their unhealthy beliefs and ideas often corrupt our subconscious minds. If we are abandoned emotionally, abused physically or sexually, we learn to believe it is our fault these terrible things happened to us. We grow unaware that behind the veil of consciousness is a stream of dysfunctional beliefs that are constructing our lives.
Childhood emotional neglect or narcissistic abuse creates codependency. As adults we inevitably wind up worrying more about what others think about us than what we think about the self. We forget that we are connected to all that is and that we were born to be powerful creators full of love and light.
For all of these reasons my main message to the world is ‘It’s Not You-It’s Your Programming.’
Any false ideas you have about yourself or others are a product of your childhood conditioning. They are not you. You can begin to release feelings self-harm, self-loathing or self-condemnation when you remember that all love starts with self-love.
SYJ: Do you think it is important that everyone understands both Narcissism and Codependency to have a clear picture of abuse? Why or why not?
Lisa: I do believe it is necessary to understand what codependency is, how it becomes an actual mindset with a specific set of dysfunctional beliefs and patterns of thoughts and behaviors, as well as narcissism. You need to understand narcissism because codependent people are perfect targets for narcissistic personalities.
If you do not know you are suffering from a codependent mindset, then you will not be aware that you are a target for narcissists. Knowing that you have codependent tendencies will help make you more aware of those around you. The more you know about how and why narcissistic people target codependents, the more you can protect yourself.
SYJ: How does an otherwise healthy person end up with a codependent mindset?
Lisa: Codependents are raised to feel like who they are does not matter. Because they have suffered attachment traumas, they are unaware that in all of their significant relationships they are unconsciously seeking the maternal bonds they never acquired in childhood. This unconscious desire predisposes the codependent to others who are able to manipulate them.
When a codependent attracts a narcissist into their life, they do so because that person’s energy or vibration is very much like their own parent’s energy or vibration. The codependent may be unconsciously seeking to finish unresolved emotional milestones that were unmet in childhood. Children assume that they are the reason mommy or daddy reject them.
They believe that if they just do better in school, or if they just learn to be a little more quiet, or if they just don’t complain when daddy hits them, that perhaps that is when they will finally receive the bond they were denied. In seeking unmet needs, unfortunately the codependent is unaware that they are attracting narcissistic people into their lives who will prove only to abandon or mistreat them just as they experienced in childhood.
SYJ: Can you share with our readers some red flags that typically indicate an abusive relationship?
Lisa: If you feel like you are losing your mind, if you feel terribly confused after having even a simple conversation, if you feel like you have to watch every word you say, if you feel like you are walking around on eggshells, if you find yourself obsessing over the idea that you might make the other person angry, if you are not able to relax around the other person, if you feel on edge when with them, if you feel annihilated after a conversation, if you are always blamed when the other person is upset, if you are made to feel like what you think is stupid, irrelevant, immature, or unacceptable, if you feel like you cannot trust this other person with your feelings, if you realize you have to bite your tongue and minimize yourself for the sake of the other person, you may be involved with someone who lacks the ability to empathize with others.
If you are being narcissistically abused, there is no doubt you have struggled with wondering if you were crazy. Being involved with people who are totally self-absorbed is maddening.
SYJ: Is being cheated on an indicator?
Lisa: Yes, being lied to or cheated on is an indicator you are with someone who lacks the ability to empathize with your experience of them. Healthy people who are emotionally available for others naturally care about how other people see them. Healthy partners want you to feel safe, protected, and nurtured.
Unhealthy partners put their own superficial needs ahead of their partners and their relationships. When they lie, they do not care how their partners will see them for it. Unhealthy partners who cheat can rationalize it, always making it their partner’s fault.
SYJ: How did you start teaching people about narcissistic abuse & recovering from codependency?
Lisa: After my first marriage fell apart due to codependency and my ex’s refusal to work on our issues together, I wrote my first book ‘The Road Back To Me’ because I wanted to teach people about this little known, yet pervasive dynamic that I believed was at the root of so much dysfunction in our world.
Learning about it literally saved my life, and I just wanted to help anyone out there who was walking around in the dark like I was. The catalyst, however, was when my sister’s husband committed suicide. He was an adult child of alcoholics and he was also suffering from severe codependency. He shot himself when my sister asked for a divorce and he found himself having to face his aloneness for the first time since he was a child.
The moment I heard the news of his death, I knew I had to do whatever I could to get my book published. I could not wait for a publisher or a literary agent to pick up my book. I had to get it published immediately because I knew it might help save someone like my brother-in-law from the severe hopelessness that can result from codependency. After it was published, it immediately hit Amazon’s Bestseller list.
From there people started contacting me because they wanted me to coach them on the subject of codependency. Within a few months I published the sequel, ‘My Road Beyond The Codependent Divorce.’ Not long after that I became officially Life Coach Certified and then created my 12-Week Breakthrough Coaching Program. It has been a beautiful unfolding.
SYJ: What are some of the mental illnesses or states that the ‘victim’ incurs from being in this kind of abuse relationship?
Lisa: If you have been raised by a narcissist or if you have been a victim of narcissistic abuse, you can present with a plethora of symptoms. My clients have suffered from severe self-doubt, obsessive thinking, poor body image, self-harm, depression, anxiety disorders, Crohn’s disease, cardiac issues, skin conditions, alopecia, asthma, migraine headaches, agoraphobia, eating disorders and complex PTSD.
SYJ: What is the most universally experienced after-effect you have witnessed?
Lisa: The one universally experienced after-effect I have witnessed is a profound inability to love and accept the self. It seems that narcissistic abuse is a type of dis-ease that has the ability to creep into every crevice of the victim’s being. There is no stone that goes unturned when you have loved a narcissist.
Their ability to convince you that you are wrong, paranoid, hyper-sensitive, too needy or too emotional causes the psyche to doubt the reality of its inner and outer worlds. When you have been convinced that you are the only problem and that it is your fault that you get abused, your mind must contort itself in ways that are unimaginable to anyone who has not been abused by a narcissist.
When you have been brainwashed to believe you are the problem, you essentially turn on yourself. This, of course, renders a victim powerless. Without the ability to trust the self, you cannot protect yourself or exert boundaries with a narcissist.
SYJ: What was the hardest realization or stage in your personally recovery from codependency?
Lisa: At some point I finally realized that I had been unconsciously recreating the patterns of my childhood with my own children. My mother taught me to be codependent and to attract narcissistic men, and I had unknowingly done the same thing. The hardest moment was when I realized my children were learning from me the same dysfunctional dynamics I had learned from my mother.
SYJ: CYBER BULLYING – what is it? And what have you done to deal with it?
Lisa: Cyber bullying implies that someone has claimed you as a target for abuse and that they will stop at nothing to abuse you via all forms of social media. I have had a few cyber bullies post unkind things to my YouTube channel, and when that happens I simply block the person from being able to comment on my channel. If I get a threatening email or a harassing email, I also block that person from being able to contact me in the future. I refuse to give a bully my power.
Fortunately I have been able to maintain a sense of control over these types of incidents, but I have had clients who had their Facebook and Twitter accounts hacked, had ex’s create fake profiles on dating websites, or who have been stalked online and had no idea who the person was behind the online assaults.
SYJ: What do you recommend to anyone who is being cyber bullied?
The first thing to do is to get centered and calm. My advice is to always to detach and see the cyber bully as a coward. Anyone who has that much time on their hands to mess with another person online is obviously not a very happy camper. Happy people do not want to destroy other people’s lives.
I suggest deleting social media accounts, but only after you have made it clear on your accounts that you have been targeted by a cyber bully and for this reason you need to close your account. I also suggest having a friend document all cyber bullying attacks. This helps the victim feel less emotionally attached to the situation. It is always best to let the authorities know about the abuse as soon as possible.
Detachment is critical when things like this arise because it is so easy to slip down the rabbit hole and react to the cyber bully, which is exactly what they are hoping you will do. Try to disengage immediately, and take your attention off the person who is trying to pull you down.
SYJ: Why is it important to stop cyber bullying? (Or is it?)
Lisa: I think it is more important to focus on what we can control than on what we cannot control. It is important to remember that there is great power in disengaging and detachment. Refusing to allow someone’s attempts to cause us to live in fear is a very powerful tool. The more you pull your energy away from an unwanted thing, the less power the unwanted thing has over you.
SYJ: Especially since the “free love” movement of the 60s, there seems to be a trend of boundaries being antagonized in our spiritual communities. What do you think about that? Are we forgetting how to respect ourselves by setting healthy limits?
Lisa: I think we are living in an exciting time. We needed the sixties to help liberate us from ideas that had so many people living false lives. My grandmother was married to an alcoholic (my grandfather) and back in the late 40’s and early 50’s, women were supposed to look prim, proper, and behave accordingly. Sadly, my grandmother committed suicide when my father was just around four years old.
There is no doubt in my mind that the unrealistic depictions of women during those times led my grandmother to believe she did not have a right to exert or appreciate her personal boundaries. Good Housekeeping ran articles about what a housewife should do to make sure her man was happy when he came home from work. The Leave It To Beaver and Father Knows Best generations falsely personified the typical family home. Women on TV all wore dresses, their hair was always perfect, their homes were depicted as sterile and never did you see a woman lose her temper.
Media is a very powerful and manipulative tool. They do not call it television PROGRAMMING for nothing. People were lied to, especially women. Women were spoon fed these unrealistic ideas about their roles; every mother you saw on TV was quiet, reserved, understanding, forgiving, happy, content and discreet.
I have to assume that this misrepresentation of the family dynamic caused many mothers, fathers and even children to think there was something wrong with them. False depictions of families led people to believe that their lives should be so perfect, there should never be a time where anyone would have to exert a boundary.
Moms and dads of those times were trying to live up to the standards set by the media, and as a result they stifled their children in an attempt to appear perfect. When people buy into the nonsense of perfectionism, they essentially annihilate the divine guidance that has been sewn into each of us, created to help us live authentic lives rather than false lives – lives we create in the hopes of living up to someone else’s standards.
SYJ: So do you feel the social revolution of the 60s actually created a positive change as far as healthy relationships and family dynamics?
Lisa: The sixties and the seventies were about rejecting the standards of the societal restraints that had been set in place by the generation before it. Women began to experiment with the idea of owning their sexuality. They grew their hair out long, and men replaced the clean shaven look with thick mustaches. Women exchanged their starched skirts for dungarees and cotton and men replaced their three piece suits with tie dyed t-shirts and flip flops.
The energy of those times was a response to the constriction of the generation before it. When you shake a bottle of carbonated soda and then release the cap, the most amount of force is exerted in the moment the cap comes off.
If you were sitting on a star and you were looking at this dynamic from that vantage point, you could see how one generation affects the next. In the 40’s and 50’s it was unheard of to exert a personal boundary. It was all about pretending to be perfect in spite of deep personal struggles. In the 60’s you can clearly see how that kind of suppression created a huge backlash. An entire generation of suppressed individuals can create an entire generation of purely expressive individuals.
SYJ: How do you feel the domino-effect of generations has played out since then?
Lisa: In my humble opinion, many of the parents who gave birth to children in the eighties and nineties have gone overboard. This generation seemed to wish to connect with their children through giving them ‘things’ and making sure their children had the kinds of material treasures they were not able to receive in their own childhoods.
The somewhat stoic child-parent relationships of their pasts seemed to create a deep desire to feel connected to their own children. However, many of us were confused in believing that we could attain those bonds through gift-giving, and as a result many of us have infused our children with a sense of entitlement.
SYJ: What do you have to say about boundaries in our modern age?
Lisa: First of all, it is possible to love everyone, but that does not mean you should be able to break bread with everyone. You can love and send blessings to a narcissist but that does not mean you should marry, speak to, try to relate to or sleep with a narcissist. I think it is possible that those of us in the spiritual community have been led to believe that love should exclude common sense.
It is unrealistic and dangerous not to have boundaries. When you are not aware of what your personal boundaries are, you open yourself up to those whose agenda it is to steal your spiritual energy. When you understand the need for discerning one personality type from the next, you invoke the divine powers that Source has supplied you with.
Many of us, including myself, have been told that we should “love everyone and not judge others.” I have been told that the fact that I choose not to engage with certain non-empathetic others meant that I was not being “spiritual.”
I am thankful that I learned to follow my own guidance and that today I appreciate the spirit of discernment that has been sown into me by Creator. As I have often shared in my coaching programs, tele-classes, and YouTube videos, discerning is not judging. Discerning what type of personality I am dealing with allows me to stay on my spiritual path because it helps me stay in alignment with my authentic self.
SYJ: That distinction between discernment and judgment is so crucial. Tell us more about boundaries in the context of discernment.
Lisa: I believe we have been created to discern so that we are able to protect ourselves against dark forces. Narcissistic abusers represent dark forces because they are not truth seekers. They are far behind the veil of consciousness and acting purely from the belly of the ego.
Many of the most beautiful lightworkers and energy healers have found themselves manipulated by a narcissistic personality. Trusting your instincts and then enforcing boundaries when necessary is what strong spiritual warriors do. It is good to use the powers of both the logical and emotional mind in tandem, as they were meant to be used.
We must the love the light within us so much that we appreciate the need to be protective of it. We do not allow others to abuse us because we know that being abused only diminishes our ability to empower others. Boundaries are good and a necessary component of the spiritual path.
SYJ: What is one inspirational quote that fuels you?
Lisa: “Science without religion is lame and religion without science is blind” -Albert Einstein
I love this quote because Einstein implies that to be truly whole, we need to understand ourselves from both spiritual and scientific perspectives. Many scientists cannot explain things like a mother’s intuition, remote viewing and ESP (Extra Sensory Perception). Instead of opening their minds up to the possibility to the idea that there is more to our existence than can what fit in a petri dish, many scientists view the supernatural as hocus pocus quackery. And this is a shame.
I love that such a well-respected scientist as Einstein believed in something more than just science – the force that connects all that is. There is such a thing as a quantum matrix that humans cannot see or touch. But I do believe we can feel it, if we allow ourselves to be open to it.
The human condition of labeling and compartmentalizing all that we experience restricts our ability to integrate as people, because each culture has their own label for this infinite intelligence. I am hopeful that one day people everywhere will agree that the infinite intelligence that created one created the whole. This is certainly something to look forward to, but the shift must happen inside of us before it can happen outside of us.
SYJ: What can you say to those who may just be waking up to this reality and feel overwhelmed? Where do they start?
Lisa: It is quite the mind-bending experience to become aware that perhaps you have been asleep at the wheel of your life and that you have unknowingly been living a codependent life. It may be just as shocking to look around at your life with new eyes and notice how many non-empathetic, narcissistic type personalities are around you. I get it. I was there too and no, it was not a particularly fun time.
It might help you to know that it is far better to live the awakened somewhat uncomfortable life than it is to live a comfortable unawakened life. The mind is dualistic in nature. There is the subconscious mind and the conscious mind. Man can live in the belly of the subconscious mind or he can live in the rooms of the skyscraper the conscious creative mind has the ability to be. The more conscious you are of what is unhealthy in your life, the more creative control you have over the rest of your life.
If you have been recently awakened to the idea that you are codependent or have been suffering as the result of narcissistic abuse, know that you are not alone and that the rest of your life can be the rest of your life, so long as you stay committed to learning all you can about the ideas that have had you living behind the veil.
You can heal from this dis-ease and it is your right to, because you, like me, are an extension of all that is. Wake up Dear Ones…it was all a dream. You really are enough!
Lisa A. Romano
Author, Breakthrough Life Coach, Creator of The Transformational 12-Week Breakthrough Coaching Program
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