When the sociopath is gone: Pain is temporary

Lance Armstrong said, “Pain is temporary. It may last a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a year, but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place. If I quit, however, it lasts forever.”

When I was in an abusive relationship with a sociopath, the pain was overwhelming. I quit trying to get through it and gave into it. I quit and felt like it would last forever.

“Nothing lasts forever – not even your troubles” so said psychologist, Arnold H. Glasgow.

Trouble is, when I’m in trouble I ‘always’ think in absolutes, like never and forever. When I’m in never and forever land, I tell myself tomorrow is too far away to even bother caring about what happens today. I tell myself to quit moving through the turmoil because it is a forever deal. I’m never going to get through it. I’m never going to get away from it. I’m never going to get away.

When I was with the sociopath, I couldn’t see the possibility of freedom when I was mired in my denial of what was happening in my life. I kept telling myself that because I said I loved him, I had to stay true to my love forever. I had to stay true to him, forever and could never leave. I never let myself think about the alternative, “What if I could leave? What if I didn’t love him? what if….?”

Because I told myself I could never leave him, I couldn’t see that I was the architect of my distress. Caught up in the despair of believing ‘the pain of loving him’ would last forever, I convinced myself to quit trying to do anything different, to think anything different. I told myself there was no freedom for me, just this ennui of dying more and more every day.

I work at a homeless shelter. Recently, I had a friend tell me he believes that many of the homeless in our city ‘receive with the expectation they should receive and see no merit in contributing to the very institution or the society that gives them succour’. While I understand his point of view, and on the surface acknowledge there is some ‘truth’ to what he says, I also understand what happens to an individual when they become so lost they see no hope of ever finding themselves again.

In all of us there is a dark-side to our psyches. That place where light cannot find a foothold in the quicksand of negative thinking that pulls us down. Some will never trip over their shadows, some will never fall so far from grace they lose sight of the light. For those who meet up with sociopaths or who lose their way on the road of life, however, darkness will fall as they plummet into the despair of believing they will always be lost to the light. Devoid of hope, they will not open their eyes to the possibility of letting go of never and forever being there.

My life with the sociopath was like that. I fell into the dark-side and quit trying to swim to the shores of sensibility. I gave up on me and gave into him. The pain of my existence, of being me, of having to walk around in my own body was overwhelming. I wanted to die and thus did everything I could to make it possible.

The sociopath became my escape from living. He was my own personal suicide mission.

I see it happening everyday at the shelter where I work. People on suicide missions with a destiny they fear will never come.

And yet, despite the bleakness of their outlooks their human spirit keeps struggling to survive. To rise above the cesspool of negative thinking that inexorably pulls them into the vortex of their despair.

There is no easy cure for pain. Yesterday my gallbladder flared up and for a moment I felt as if the pain would last forever. I knew it wouldn’t and so I breathed deeply. Let the tears flow and waited for it to subside. It did.

Like all pain, it disbursed, eased, backed-off and was replaced with something else. In my case, a refreshing sleep from which I awoke to a beautiful blue sky-day filled with love and laughter. A walk with the puppies and a wonderful friend. A shopping trip to one of my favourite stores to scope out storage solutions for my new home and a birthday dinner for one of my dearest friends.

It was a day that started with pain and ended with love and laughter. The pain subsided, its memory but a distant reminder I must watch more carefully what I eat. The love and laughter, they live on, forever and a day, to remind me to never give up on living my life on the light-side of my thinking.

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