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After the sociopath: How do we heal? Part 14 – Discovering What We Are Capable Of

The Buddhists say that we fall in love with our teachers. I know that in my relationship with the man I now belief is a sociopath, I realized early that I was in a sort of classroom.

He clearly saw the world differently than I did, and operated on principles that were so foreign to me that I couldn’t begin to connect the dots. I was truly in love with this man, had a clear vision of the benefits a good relationship would bring to both of us, and wanted to make it work. So I tried to understand. I kept trying through all the emotional pain that started very early in the relationship. I worked at getting him to appreciate and trust me more than he did. I also experimented with mimicking his behaviors, even though they were outside my comfort zone.

In all of this, I learned one basic lesson. No matter what I did, I lost. I didn’t get what I wanted from him. In negotiations or trades, I came out on the short end of the stick. I invested more than he did. Any temporary gain I won cost me more down the road. I lost money. Career equity. Personal connections. Self-respect. My expectations of the relationship kept diminishing through the five years I knew him, until my efforts were mainly centered on avoiding pain.

Through all this I was still profoundly attached to him. Part of me knew this was crazy, but I couldn’t break away. He was like a powerful magnet. Oddly, there was also a little voice in my mind that popped up occasionally, telling me, “Pay attention. This is important.” I had no idea what it meant, but in a way, it was the thing that kept me sane. It was telling me that this was happening for a reason.

This article is about one of the most important aspects of trauma processing. It is about what we learn as we realize that there is some other reality on the other side of healing. We play with this idea all the way through our healing. Certainly, the angry phase is about learning to be different than we were, working on not being a victim anymore. But there is more than that. There is also learning the lessons that sociopaths can teach us about winning.

The difference between sociopaths and us

In Strategy of the Dolphin, the book I mentioned in the first of these articles, the authors divided the world into two types of people, sharks and carps. Sharks are addicted to winning. Carps are addicted to being loved. These rough generalizations offer us a wealth of understanding about the differences between empaths (feeling people) and people who cannot bond.

There is another, related concept in this book about the nature of human interactions. That is, in all interactions, we act on what is most important to us — either the relationship or the outcome. If we are more concerned about the relationship, we are willing to compromise or give in to keep things friendly between us. If we are more concerned about the outcome, we will do whatever we have to do to get what we want. Outcome-oriented interactions may include a lot of apparent relationship-building but it is all part of the plan to get the desired outcome.

In the last year of our relationship, after being flattered, charmed and seduced for a few weeks by my ex, I agreed to a new arrangement that equated to paying for him living with me. Once he had the agreement, he reverted to his old cruel, distant and domineering self. (And I was stuck with supporting him, while he treated me like this.) When I asked him why he was so nice when he was leading up to a deal, he looked at me as though I were stupid and said, “We were in a negotiation. How did you think I’d behave?”

What I wanted to say to him was, “I expect you to not use my feelings against me.” But it was pointless. He regarded my feelings toward him as an annoyance. To him, everything was deals. He viewed people in terms of relative power. As long as I had the power in the relationship — such as when he was trying to get me to agree to something — he was going to suck up. When I didn’t have anything further that he wanted, my feelings or desires were unimportant. If I wanted something from him, he had the power and it was my job to offer him enough payment to make it worth his while.

I can write this very clearly now, but at the time, it was simply incomprehensible. My life was about love and all its permutations. I wanted to be liked and accepted. I was highly aware of other people’s insecurities and needs. Most of my relationships had some element of helping and I even made my living helping other people achieve their dreams. I tended to over-perform, because I was worried about meeting other people’s expectations. I worked too hard, over-committed, and took responsibility for everything — other people’s feelings, when things didn’t work out perfectly, and for my inability to take care of myself very well.

Naturally, my clients and lovers enjoyed the intense effort and creativity I put into their satisfaction. And naturally, I attracted a certain type of person, people who needed more than they could get from providers with healthier boundaries. I was perfect for my sociopath. He needed someone who would care about him enough to help him achieve his personal goals. That was me. And he was clever enough to give me exactly the minimum attention necessary to keep me thinking I was in a romantic relationship.

Learning another strategy

The authors of Strategy of the Dolphin talk about a third type, the dolphin, which has two characteristics that are different from the carp and the shark. The dolphin experiments with new strategies, when its standard behaviors aren’t working in a situation. Second, the dolphin will generally act like a peaceable, relationship-oriented carp unless circumstances require acting like a shark. When it is necessary to place outcome over relationship, the dolphin has no problem doing that.

In our healing from relationships with sociopaths, we practice outcome-over-relationship in many ways. We make the decision to end these relationships and then cut off contact. We place our health and survival first.

Our difficulty in doing this — and most of us have a very hard time of it — is evidence of more than the expertise of the sociopath in placing a hook in our hearts. That hook is not of their creation but ours. They take advantage of our internal rules and feelings of need or insecurity. Some of those rules might be that we must be nice people, kind or generous, and we must be fair or tolerant. Some of our needs might be that we want to be liked or appreciated, or that we expect something back from all the investments we made in the relationship. Some of our insecurities might be that we are not really attractive or lovable, or that if we leave this relationship, we’ll never be able to recoup all that we’ve lost. Sociopaths take advantage of all that, but they couldn’t take advantage of these issues, if we were inclined to feel these things in the first place.

But the most important thing that sociopaths take advantage of is our inclination to give up our power. We are willing to allow other people to lead us. We are willing to believe that other people know more about us than we do. We are willing to give up things we care about in order to keep the peace. We imagine that maintaining our boundaries is something burdensome that we only do when faced with “bad” people, and we prefer to be wide open to everyone and hope for the best.

In going no contact, we take back our power at very fundamental level. We make a choice about what we allow in our lives. Later, as we mull through the relationship and start to become clearer about the way that it was structured — that they won and we lost at every juncture — we begin to call it exploitation. Then we get angry, and we begin to pay much closer attention to the quality of our boundaries. Over time, in a successful recovery, we become much, much better at recognizing threats and defending ourselves.

Transitioning from defensive to creative living

A friend of mine who is just starting to go through trauma processing said to me that he feels frustrated because he can’t answer the question, “What do you want?” None of us can really answer that question in any practical sense until we have some feeling of what we’re capable of. In our angry, boundary-building, self-defensive phase, we learn a lot.

Probably the most important thing is that we learn that we’re capable of saying no. And thinking it, too. We say no, when things don’t feel right to us, or when someone offers us a deal that is clearly wrong for us. We think no, when we have an opportunity to do something that leads somewhere we don’t want to go. We start making judgments about what is bad for us. We get better at doing the blessed trio of self-defensive behaviors — avoiding problems, getting rid of them, and doing battle, if necessary.

At some point, we realize that there is a flip side to all this. Because in learning to recognize what we don’t want, we learn about what we do want. We don’t want disrespectful relationships. That might mean we do want respectful ones. We don’t want lies. That might mean that we want truth from people we deal with. We don’t want chaos in our lives. That might mean that we want to be able to work on our own plans, and enjoy the fruits of our labor.

Developing positive objectives, after we have developed good boundaries and defensive skills, brings us around to having potential characteristics that are very much like those that so frustrated me when I was dealing with my sociopath. Everything was about him. What he wanted. In negotiations, he never lost sight of his personal plans and objectives. He cared about my feelings when they mattered to him, in terms of getting what we wanted. He didn’t waste time or energy on issues that had nothing to do with him.

Many of us wonder if we are becoming sociopaths when we are recovering from these relationships. It is so foreign to us to fight for what we want. When we’re in the angry phase, it’s common for us to feel like we want revenge, because we feel like we’ve been victimized. But later, when we are less inclined to feel like victims, we realize that there are better places to put our energy. That living well is really the best revenge.

I am not suggesting that we become sociopaths. But that they have something to teach us that we, as the particular kind of people who get involved with sociopaths, can profit from learning. Sociopaths are like sharks. They don’t have the capacity to make the choice between relationship and outcome in a personal interaction. They will always look to win. As dolphins, we can choose to be accommodating or take care of ourselves, depending on the circumstances.

In practical terms, what does this mean about our relationships? It means we start viewing our relationships not just as good in themselves, but as means to get what we want. This may sound cynical, but it’s really not when it comes to our good relationships. Good relationships are good because they give us what we want and need. In dealing with people who are more problematic, we become more practical. Not everyone in the world is meant to be our close friend or lover. But sometimes people are good for something else, and so we use them for that. We moderate our involvement. But because we are feeling people, we don’t engage in behavior that is hurtful. If pain starts to be part of either side of a relationship, we either do what we can to fix it or we get out of it.

More than that, we become honest. First with ourselves, about what we want from the relationship and how it fits into the bigger picture of our lives. Sharing this information is done in a context of trust. If we don’t know if we can trust someone, we don’t expose all our dreams and motivations. But in our close relationships, we become honest and take the risk of an argument. Good relationships include disagreements. If a relationship won’t survive an argument, someone is demanding control and/or hiding their true intentions. Telling the truth enables the argument to be about us and what we want, not historical blaming or personal attacks.

We learn to make important statements that begin with “I want,” “I feel” and “I like.” When the other person is making similar statements, we discover intimacy. The conversation naturally becomes deeper and more rewarding. Yes, it’s risky to expose ourselves in this way. Yes, we have to be prepared for disagreement, rejection and possibly the end of the relationship. But for the right reasons. We don’t want close personal relationships with people who don’t like or can’t understand us. But in learning to become more open — and being capable of defending ourselves at the same time — we may discover intimacy even with passing strangers.

Confidence in our ability to defend ourselves, commitment to our own goals and objectives, and honesty are a powerful combination. It can transform our world, our relationships, and our sense of the trajectory of our lives. If this is what we gain from the sociopath’s classroom, we have learned well.

Namaste.

Kathy


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198 Comments on "After the sociopath: How do we heal? Part 14 – Discovering What We Are Capable Of"

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Kathleen,

Glad to see you again! Thank you so much for this insightful article.

That is a phenomenal post Kathy. Thank you for highlighting the road I am on.

I did go through a period where I wondered if in wanting more from my relationships than just being grateful to be in them I was becoming like him. This has been part of the gift of that relationship. Me growing in maturity and wisdom about what real relationships are about. Knowing that it is okay to close the door on people and things that are a time or energy suck from my true purpose in life and my goals. (I do not mean to give the impression that I lack the ability or inclination to be a “Good Samaritan” – as that is important to me, but I have found the strength to reject those that would have me be the hammock they swing in while I do life for them…)

I knew somehow, instinctively, that mature healthy relationships are reciprocal and that I really do not need to be close to someone I cannot be honest with. That people who do not like the truth about me I do not need in my life. That not all of my relationships will be as deep or long lasting as others – some teachers are for a moment, a season and others – a lifetime. And that I do not have to give complete trust until I see that someone is worthy of holding it.

The relationship with my N bore fruit in so many unexpected ways – all of which will serve me in having a life worth living. Someone quote Anne Lamont to me this morning – she said “There is no hope for a different past.” – That is so freeing because once I truly grasp that I can focus on the present and the future instead of living in the regret of yesterdays coulda, woulda, shoulda’s.

Great post, Kathy! glad you are back, have been missing your insightful wisdom! (((hugs))))

I chose dolphinism, one day at a time! Thank-you so much for this article Katheen. I still find it hard to draw boundries, and feel guilty when I stand up for myself. But I am working on it, and I can definately say I’m much better at spotting emotional manipulation, now it’s just a matter of defending against it in a healthy way.

Thanks again.

but I have found the strength to reject those that would have me be the hammock they swing in while I do life for them”)
Lovethe above quote, Breckgirl. Hope you don’t mind if I add it to my repitre. (damn the spelling! It sucks to have a better vocabulary than an ability to spell.) 🙂

Kathy:

Good to have you back.

As I close in on one year of NC, I look at how heavily I have “edited” the relationships in my life through boundary setting. People who have bled me dry emotionally I have been eliminating from my life. I used to sit there and go through endless agita about “how can I save this relationship”. Now, I simply sit there and think “if this person had any respect for me he would not be treating me this way.” If the relationship is important enough, I may put in the energy and try to resolve things. But, if I decide there is nothing in the relationship for me, then I withdraw and move on. I find by putting myself first I no longer go through all the torture. Instead I move on, confident in the knowledge that if this relationship isn’t working for me, I will somewhere down the line meet somebody else and have a more satisfying relationsip with them.

I don’t necessarily know what I want in all areas of my life. But, by putting myself first, it does help me define what it is I want.

Katy,

I have been reading LB for the past six months and had a few posts overhere. I am in the process of healing and still some way to go. I was married to a sociopath for 22 years. After 7 years of marriage and 2 children I started reflecting on the causes of his weird behaviour. We moved countries, now I know he used me to get away from previous problems and to get a citzenship through me. I was the main applicant because my qualifications and skills, something that he would not be able to achieve on his own merit. Also to get me away from everybody and to do his work on me away from everyone close to me. Well after 2 children and in a foreigner country I worked hard to make the marriage work. I loved him dearly. He had all the characteristics of a perfect partner, kind, lovable, dedicated, handsome, inteligent and always showed me his love. All this before I agreed to officially marry him. We lived in a defacto relationship for 7 years and after we had two children together and the marriage was growing stronger I agreed to married him. From that point on the relationship started to deteriorate. The level of his instability was growing stronger, the emotional abuses started appearing, signs of depression (so he did not have to do anything), the manipulations and abuses and also with times of perfection in between. The children growing and the family growing. I always accomodating his needs, his wants, adjusting to his plans (which were never consistent), sacrificing my carreer while he was in and out of jobs . Buying and selling new cars because he wanted, houses and loosing money throughout this process. I was lliving and experiencing many broken promises. Going though life with him I clearly understood how his mind worked and his objectives were never to make me grow but to break me apart, to humiliate me, to make me weak and loose my self steem…he nearly achieved that. He knew I was strong within myself but very vulnerable towards the emotional games he played upon me. He also used the children to his advantages because the last thing I would do would be hurting or harming our children. Well to make it shorter, after I knew I was living with someone who was not good (I didn’t know by then about sociopaths) who was also betraying me on the internet and also had travelled overseas with my financial assistence to meet internet lovers (ofcourse I didn’t know it at the time, but found out later) I played dumm. I prepared myself for the big one. I confronted him about the affairs and he cried and asked for forgivenes.. I forgave him (but did not forget), but inside me I started to become a sociopath to be able to survive life with him. I played the game. Three years later he came up with the excuse to go to an adventure in our country of origin where we both had our family members and where he went 3 year earlier to meet a lover from the internet. I always stayed in contact with his mother and sisters. I agreed with his adventure (which cost a lot of money) and also agreed to him selling a second house to fund his supposed expedition. But because I was such a good wife and caring for the welbeing of the children and for his own wellbeing I asked him to do a separation of assets and for him to leave me a Power of Attorney, in case anything happened to him while he was in his dangerous expedition. If anything happened to him I could sell our assets without any complication. It was just a precaution, I told him. If nothing happened to him everything would be the same, and no one would loose anything. To be genuine I told him that I was not going to mention child maitenance to the Court because it was just a temporary thing. He had his peace of mind and I had a peace of mind to protect the children. Well he was so stupid and in the rush to get the money and see his other lovers he signed the Court papers accepting only 20% of our assets and left me a Enduring Power of Attorney which I could do anything with that.

So he went. After two weeks that he left we had no contact with him no telephone number and he would not answer emails. I contacted his family and they told me he was OK and he had contacted them. That he was still organising himself. I knew by then that some thing was not right and I kept playing the game. He started lying to me saying that he changed his plans once overthere and went to another location because he managed to get some work and was puting more money together His family confirmed that. Time was running and the Family Court asked me why 20% and 80% was fair. I sent an email to him and had no replay. I also , in the email, mentioned that we had 20 days to reply to the Court otherwise the Court would not accept the division of assets. He did not replay and I was still with no contact with him, but his family was in contact with him and knew exactly waht he was doing but never told me anything. They wanted him overthere because they thought he was loaded with money as he was showing off to everyone with the money he took from us. (remember it was only 20% of our assets). With his family backing him up and protecting him and covering up for him, and with my email saying that the Family Court would not accept the division of assets within 20 days if we did not provide an explanation, he felt safe and he was sure that he would come back and I would not know what he done overthere. So he continued playing his game. The only thing he did not know was that I became a sociopath better then him and my game was better than his game.

With his silence I went to the Court and showed them that I had no contact with him, I did not know his wherabouts and he forgot to mention we had two children and he was not providing any maitenence nor have any contact with the children. The court accepted my evidence and seal the agreement. Everything became mine only. He had his 20% share. I kept playing and maitained my silence with him and his family continuing lying to me. After three months that he became tired of the other women. He called me saying that he was coming back. I said it was his decision but he would not come back to me because everybody here was working hard and he had no job to come back too. He came back into my house with the condition that in 3 days he would find a place for himself. He started taking over and behaving in a manner as if everything was normal I told him not to spend his money on me and on the children because I would not have a way to pay him back. He said but everything here still mine I said NO,,,NO.. Here is the Famuily Court document and your copy. Because you disapeared for 3 months they accepted the agreement. He went yellow and decided to go back but the only difference at this time he went back to leave with his sister because his money had finished. From there they all had a big fight and he disapeared from them as well he lost contact with his children and God know waht he is doing now. We know he is not well. After seven years (of playing, lying and using other people for his advantage and everybody knowing waht hes done) he contact his son asking for money and saying that “the sad thing was him not seeing the children growing up” . The 2 children are very succesful today and he knows that. See..he was not sad for the pain he caused us or for the abandonement of the children, he was sad because he did not have a chance of a piece of the pie now that the pie grew ten folds, now no one wants to know about him, he got tired of playing with others, his money finished and hi is getting old and his charm is disapearing . I have NC for 7 years, the children have no contact for the same amount of time we all changed our names back to my maiden name . This is a sad storie but we do not want him close to us. our love still be with him but away from us. The devastation was nearly fatal if I did not awake up on time to see what he was doing to us.

We suffered a lot and could not understan a lot at the time. The children are Ok I still grieving now and then but with the knowledge I acquired in here is making my healing very fast.. I am so glad I had the presence of spirit to to what I did , only because I knew how his mind worked. He only got pleasure when I and the children were in pain.. Once we understan thei mind we can survive and heal

Brilhancy,
What a wonderful story! I loved hearing how the P got what he deserved. Thanks so much for sharing.

skylar,

My point in here was to show that they the S have no remorse and only act when is to achieve something for themselves. After 7 years with no contact with the children (even if I have begged him not to do that) he says that the sad thing was not seeing them grow up. Not even a word about the pain and suffering he caused by abandoning them

He was trying to play with the emotions of my son because now he needs money and he is planning to come back to us. They are never nice without a reason….

Brilhancy… you are brilliant!!!!!

Thanks Kathleen!

Until the P, I thought I WAS being assertive in relationships, I thought I WAS looking out for myself. And indeed I was, I think. What I did NOT realize however, is things like you referenced…that someone would pretend to be nice, just to get what they wanted. What was missing for me was not realizing or knowing that people will lie on purpose, that people’s motives are not always what they seem. That a shark will put on a carp suit. And that red flags are RED FLAGs, not just a carp having a bad day.

And I was too carp-like…it sometimes took too much before I said “No” to too much responsibility. Still a bit that way. Sigh.

anyway, thanks for some great analogies, they are so key to healing and learning I think!

Brilhancy, WELL DONE!!! I am full of admiration at how you played him for a sucker at his own game. You rock! Also, you have answered my question as to what will become of my 45 year old daughter,long term, {still has her looks, some work, and someso-called friends, tho they keep getting younger and younger as the older friends suss her out. She has given me 30 years of Hell, her poor ex husband 15 years of hell.she drops “friends” like used lolly wrappers when they dont come across for her, and has dumped me, after I told her Id no longer be her cash cow.} She still thinks she is brilliant, even tho she has lost her husband, her home, her job, her Mum, her car,has no assetts, and around$30,000 in credit card and other debt.She is off the hook regarding her 3 kids, as her ex now has full time custody of them, Im relieved to say.She is a total phoney. I cant see much future for her long term, I used to worry about her, but do so less and les now, as she has done ALL THIS TO HERSELF!! They are not as clever as they think they are!! Love, Gem.XX

Kathleen, wonderful article, thank you so much, need the lessons, need to hear how other’s have changed their lives, hope I reach that peaceful place someday.

I also wanted to say, I can understand Lily trying to hang on to the false malignant hope that somehow, one of her 4 children was REALLY a nice person, just misunderstood.
When I really truly saw, with all my blinkers off, what my 2 daughters were REALLY like, how they were pathological liers, snobby, cruel, hateful, unkind, unforgiving,ruthless, heartless,manipulative,money grabbing,Narcopaths,it was very hard, as Oxy says,”The truth will set you free but first it will piss you off!” Truth is like a dagger, cutting out rotten diseased infected sores. It hurts like hell, but we are never going to get healed from these people until we acknowledge and accept the painful truth about them.And NC is the only way forward, as each contact ripps the scar of the still healing wound, leaving it open again.Its been 3 months now, and each day, I breathe a little easier. Gem.XX

Kathy — Very well done article. Much wisdom and positive reinforcement for those of us who are moving forward and learning new ways to live with boundaries and maintain a sense of integrity.

Brilhancy: Thank you so much for sharing your story. It was inspirational to me, and I’m impressed with how you handled things so well.

Gem, Witsend, Oxy, and TB
I really have to applaud you for being able to look reality in the face and see your children for who they are not what you fantasized them to become when you gave birth. That must be the greatest loss of all and yet all of you determined to live in REALITY, rather than live in a delusional world as my parents have chosen. I have a P-sister and my parents have acknowledged her selfishness but they refuse to see her as beyond hope. That would be fine and admirable IF THEY WERE DOING ANYTHING TO HELP HER BECOME NORMAL. But just as they did with my P-brother, they are allowing the chips to fall where they may and continue to condone their evil behavior. It’s so sad because NO ONE is benefitting. My P-sister is so dependant on my parents for emotional support (even though she’s married to a P and living in a cult of one). I know that they could make a big difference in her behavior if they chose but they won’t. Similarily my P brother is extremely difficult and will rage but they could do so much to force his improved behavior if they wanted to because he lives with them. But instead, they reinforce that behavior by letting it go, thus it was successful behavior to the P’s.

Everything I’m reading points to a disconnect from reality as a sign of narcissism. So your examples as strong determined women should have served as examples to your children, but it got skewed somehow. Instead of them seeing how important it was for them to face the real world and all its problems, they only saw how important it was for YOU to face the world and all its problems so they wouldn’t have to. That is how my P sister is. Once they leave the nest, they latch on to some other supply. Maybe the answer is to LAY ALL YOUR PROBLEMS ON THEM, before they leave the nest. Make it a huge tragic dilemma worthy of a P-performance. (like my xP told me Homeland security was after him complete with fake documents and gps tracker.)

Interesting,
my old p-parents once told me that work ethic skips every other generation. That is what they have noticed. if the parents work hard, like they do, the kids don’t but grow up to have hardworking children.

Perhaps it’s true, the parents who protect the kid from his problems, raise a child who feels entitled to that protection, but might have kids who never knew protection and will work harder to succeed.

geminigirl,

To love someone is to make them responsible for their own action. I still love my ex husband so do our children. We learnt how to love without sharing a life together. We have to stop worring about them or even talking about them with people we know. Love them in our harts but wish them to be distant from us. They do not bring a moment of true happiness to our lives.

They are inteligent beings (malignant though) and they have to cope with the consequencies of their actions. Being cold and indiferent is the best treatment we can give to them. Never retaliate, but be always firm and do not allow them to step in our boundaries. Our limits are far beyond their reach
Yes, we still love them.. we do not need to hate them but love the memories and wish them to be very, very far away from us.

Life will catch up with them…they will get tired one day and they will see everybody else happy and in control of their lives. Then and only then the S will melt down of old age and not being loved by anyone close to them.

Today , my ex would die to talk to his daughter, and to share the fun time with his son, he would die to have my kindness and talk to me, he would die to share one minute of our lives (a life which once was his).

And the worse thing for him, is the fact that he knows that in order for him to achieve that , he will have to do a lot of hard work within himself before he comes even close to us. If he ever comes he knows we will be polite but very acertive with him. He would not stand a chance to play again.

skylar,

I forgot to say that with his Enduring Power of Attorney I tranferred the title of our property in my name only and withdrew all his retirement fund when his completed 55 years old (which was last February) and he can not even complain about it. Nos can his adorable sisters and mother…after all he gave me the Power..in case he accidented himself in his expedition… well his expedition paid off to me..

Brilhancy:

I really admire you and the approach you decided to take. And I think your statement ‘To love someone is to make them responsible for their own action.’ That is the hardest part for me to face, that I have to disengage and love someone from afar. Anyway, I could go on but just wanted to commend you, glad you posted your whole story and wish you well.

whoops, meant to say I think your statement about loving someone – is very powerful and it will continue to stay on my mind in dealing with this.

wow, I had no idea that this was such a huge thing, I have recently removed myself from a relationship with 2 such “pretty possums”, and am learning how much I donot know about myself and how easily led I am,when I thought I was the strong mentally in control one. I see the kids involved and know that they are not ok, in trouble at school and “tagged” by the other kids as being ODD. So much to learn, I can see the bright side of things, at least now I do have an idea of what I am looking for and what I am missing and need to find. thanks

Brilliancy:
I LOVE IT!!!!!!
You were proactive and thinking and ON IT!
What a dumbshit he is……
I so loovvvee it!
I think we need to be reinforced by these stories…..because it can happen….you just gotta play it smart!
Be that snake….
and my new discovery word….
COUNTER CONTROL!
Use it to protect you, your assets and your children……
And let them know you can’t be farked with!
END OF STORY!

Kathy, I am trying to find my post to you earlier on this article….
FOR SOME REASON….my computer didn’t post and I couldn’t get on the site all day……
I will try and find it and repost.
But in the meantime…..
Great post….loved it, thank for your time and commitment.

One of my points was about turning the magnets around to reverse the attraction…..
make yourself a repellant!

Also about the buddah teacher comment….
Hit home….I was 13 when I met the S…..everyone is your teacher at 13….YIKES!!!!

Thanks again Kathleen…..

Missed you so much Kathleen! Don’t go away so long again…I need you! Thanks again for amazing perfectly timed post. Your are in my thoughts and prayers.
xo

Matt:
27 days to one year No Contact! (and RAPT!!)
xoxo

Breckgirl:
Your paragraph:
” That people who do not like the truth about me I do not need in my life. That not all of my relationships will be as deep or long lasting as others – some teachers are for a moment, a season and others – a lifetime. And that I do not have to give complete trust until I see that someone is worthy of holding it”
This is EXACTLY what I learned off the last P too, Breckgirl. And I learned it from my HEART instead of just on the intellectual level that i previously knew it on. Well said!!

skylar, persephone7, Kathy, ErinBrockovich

Sorry about all the spelling mistakes. English is my second language and I have a tendency to think faster than I type and I do not check my spelling mistakes…but I am sure you can read and understand my words.

Erin, as I mentioned in one of my previous posts, the Ss are not as inteligent as they portrait themselves to be, or to make us believing they are. We can easily outsmart them…if we only start paying close attention to their inconsistencies and changed stories.

Even if I could scape as the winner financially, morally and as a role model and good example to my children we suffered the deception of betrayal, lies, abandonment, devalued, humiliation, emptness and many tears and broken harts. We could not understand how he could do those things..it was specially difficult to the children because they always loved their father until they started getting older and see for themselves how much he was demaging us all. They felt a great relief when we did not have him around anymore. Peace finally descended in our lives and we could go on forward. It is not perfect without him, but we can assure you all ..it is a million times better than having him around..there will be always that empty chair around the house but that chair slowly started being less and less noticiable.

Today I feel much stronger and became myself again..I have no desire to enter into another relationship…I fulfill myself with many new projects and new challenges and I am always surrounded by good people who are working for me now…

We frequently travel to my country of origin on business (I opened my own Company) and also visiting family members and how hard it is for the father of the children (now adults) not been able to see them when everybody else welcome us in their lives, including his deceptive mother and sisters. But we know better now ..and they better treat us well.. and they do, and they know better that we are not to be messed up by anyone. I show them respect as well as my children, but we are clear that we are not deceptive people and we do not tolerate disonesty

My children have both graduated from Uni and have their own carreers..are both very independent and very acertives as well. but we are also very close to each other and very supportive of each other. They help me with my own business and they enjoy being part of it as well.. they grew up very strong and they now show no resentiments. I think this because they see that our lives became better once I took a stand and became firm in my position. I am saying this because it seems from my post that they are sticking around me, which would not be good for their own personal growth.

In a recent column by Carolyn Hax, she wrote”…Abusive or not, if a boyfriend makes you miserable on a regular basis…people who love without agendas simply don’t do that to each other.”

The “without agendas” part stands out most for me. I’ve learned from experience with my ex-N that when someone is hiding their agenda — especially when it’s a sinister/one-sided benefit/manipulative agenda — so many things that happen in the relationship simply do not make sense.

recovering: The feeling I always had was like Charlie Brown in the Peanuts strip when he goes along with Lucy’s saying she won’t pull the football away THIS TIME as he goes to kick it. And of course she does – and he falls flat and can’t believe she did that…again. (And she has big smile on her face – SCORE!)

Don’t want to be Charlie Brown anymore – though he seems like a nice guy.

ALL I REALLY NEED TO KNOW, I LEARNED FROM MY DOG!

Never pass up the opportunity to go for a joyride.

Allow the experience of fresh air and the wind in your face to be pure ecstasy.

When loved ones come home, always run to greet them.

When it’s in your best interest, practice obedience.

Let others know when they’ve invaded your territory.

Take naps and stretch before rising.

Run, romp and play daily.

Be loyal.

Never pretend to be something you’re not.

Eat with gusto and enthusiasm.

If what you want lies buried, dig until you find it.

When someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by and nuzzle them gently.

Thrive on affection and let people touch you ” enjoy back rubs and pats on your neck.

Whenever you leave your yard, make it an adventure.

Avoid biting when a simple growl will do.

No matter how often you’re scolded, don’t buy into the guilt thing and put ” run right back and make friends.

Bond with your pack.

On cold nights curl up in front of a crackling fire.

On hot days, drink lots of water and lie under a shaded tree.

When you are excited, speak up.

When you are happy, dance around and wag your entire body.

Delight in the simple joy of a long walk.

~~~~~~~~~~

Peace to everyone’s heart and soul as together we all venture down the same path of healing.

I was suppose to type “don’t buy into the guilt thing and pout” … LOL. But, putting is good for golfers (SMILE).

Wini…
I love that….thanks!!

persephone7: Your Charlie Brown example also reminds me of how we’ve been exposed to subtle N/S/P behaviors a lot but didn’t recognize for what it was. Media, church and other institutions “normalize” inappropriate behaviors — and often with the favorite saying that “nobody’s perfect” or “it was just a joke” when someone intentionally does harm to another.

I certainly believe nobody’s perfect, but when certain things/negative behaviors become a pattern, there is a problem.

Brilhancy:
I think you are one hellofawoman!
And achieving what you did through the pain…..IN ANOTHER COUNTRY!!! with English being a second language…..
OMG!
You are magnificant! I can not praise you enough!
Your pain is validated, I know, and can attest….the ‘win’ doesn’t come ‘cheap’…..and without the painful journey……
But my dear, as I too saw in my life…..I didnt see a choice….I had to fight….fight for me, fight for my children….and fight what was right…..fight for justice…..and fight for validation.
There are things we will never be able to ‘get back’…..regain or change…..in ourselves or our situation…..but moving forward into a peaceful life….knowing we CAN do whatever it is we must, is empowering.
Nothing is ever easy……but the rewards are great.
The lessons, the education the power we take back, the journey to personal growth.
I am a believer and I have NO REGRETS on doing battle when he dropped the bombs…..If I hadn’t we would have been destroyed or killed or both…..
I stood up, as you, and upped the anti….and we showed them we were NOT women to be pushed around lightly…..
They are gone…..physically away, but not out of our minds….
We will only find our own closure.
I hope to be on your block when I am ready. I am still in clean up mode.
BUT….it is much easier doing the clean up knowing I stood up to the destruction and survived.
I am so very proud of myself for taking a stand…..
and it was something, as I am sure you may agree, that didn’t take much thought.
We could have layed down and allowed the destruction to our children to continue…..but we did not!
We learned the route they take and hitchhiked down that same route as stealthily as a snake. And bit when we had enough venoom to make a difference!
Kudos, kudos to you Brilhancy….YOU HAVE COME SO FAR!!!!
YOU ARE MY HERO!!!!

recovering:

I agree and you’re also right about how society overall has accepted bad behavior, like it’s hip to be ‘bad.’ Probably always has been in a way but listen to rappers and others when they sing about themselves, even saying their names in the lyrics (how terribly creative and how incredibly narcissistic) as well as shows like Punk’d – let’s totally humiliate some unsuspecting person who ‘trusts’ they’re in a real-life situation and then boom, you’re on candid camera except in most cases, it’s a really stressful situation and now you’re supposed to suck it up and act like – oh, Ashton – I’m so honored you picked me to humiliate and I’ll just hug you and act like it’s really okay, you and your show rock (probably inwardly thinking -how rude, how incredibly inconsiderate to do that to an unsuspecting person, much less on a televised show…) Even shows like American Idol and types like it feed off humiliation and shaming in their own way of people who may not be ultimately that talented, but who are sincerely putting themselves on the line with whatever talent they have…Guess by then they know the deal, so it’s hard to feel totally sorry for them, but it’s still a comment on where we’ve arrived with our ‘culture’ in choosing to turn a blind eye to what this is really all about.

There shouldn’t be anything wrong with expecting and if necessary, asking for good behavior and decency in the way you treat your fellow man. Actually there was never anything really wrong with Charlie Brown – he seemed like a pretty sincere, thoughtful little guy – guess I didn’t want to be him because he was not afforded any respect and his trust of Lucy was always getting shafted! At least Charlie had Snoopy and other good friends, (like us here) to lift his spirits and get him back on track.

god how much of an idiot have i been for the past few years. i still am working out how badly treated i have been and not even realised until now, what a complete idiot. reading others and hearing their tales of healing is just so helpful, and makes me look closer at what to do now. i found that i was starting to fall into their way of thinking and began to behave like that towards others whom i cared about, when away from them. i had no idea how close they both had wormed their way in, from not particularly liking them when we first met, to seeing (and other things every day,) and the feelings of being a complete failure if I didn’t make some contact first. what a git!! Mine are still around, and though they interchanged depending on who will have the most contact this week, I can now read them and can just about predict what they will do to hurt or use to make me feel bad next. I guess I am very much the learner on this blog section.

d23. Try not to be so hard on yourself (said the woman who called herself a selfish stink -bomb idiot the other day!*sigh*:)xxx remember we are ALL the learners here! I am learning all of the time,and each day brings a new perspective, sometimes a positive and sometimes something uncomfortable that I needed to face.

I give less and less thought to the S/P i met as ‘part of my life’ now, the focus for me now is my own vulnerabilities and behaviours, my family dynamics with the S/P as a catalyst for change… something like that anyway, its the direction i am shooting in at least… i think I will place a caveat here in which I am allowed to fall flat on my face every now and then as long as I keep getting up;)!

Sociopaths and Narcs have a profound effect on the behaviour of their victims, its what they do best, it doesnt make the victims stupid or weak, just HUMAN.x

Thankfully I have managed to stop shuddering and convulsing with humilliation at the way I behaved when with the S/P (publicly, towards my friends, family; everyone at my work place thought I was going off to get married! GUH! I PUBLICLY hung drew and quartered MYSELF ‘in his name’!)

I want to say youre not a git! Dont beat yourself up! …. But I do/ have done it to myself a lot! xx

you say that you are only just realising now how badly treated you were; I think thats a thread that runs through all of our encounters collectively, when youre ‘in it’ its like you are in a fog or sleep walking then when you are out its like BANG! Hit by a truck but when you look round the truck is already miles away. by the time you realise what the heck has been going on…it’s already happend!

But you can see it now! You have their number! That is a wonderful thing! Just having the scales fall from your eyes is the miraculous begining to a journey that will ultimately mean YOU coming out better and stronger than ever before! ( I have faith in that, I wouldnt be able to get out of bed in the morning without my faith in that things are going to get better and better for me now that I am awake!)

Keep reading, keep blogging, keep learning with the rest of us! And like Kathy says: think about new strategies to protect your self from now on (even if you dont feel you can impliment them immediately, once that seed is planted it grows like billy-o, be that Dolphin!) from what you KNOW these creatures are going to try to do to you.

Think about going NC, and giving yourself some space to think.

Brillhancy, just wanted to jump in too and add my WOW! Thanks for sharing your story, and your amazing ( that word isnt quite good enough) attitude and way of dealing with something that must have been so tough and painful. what an inspiration.x

Wini – I love what your dog has to teach us!:)xx (apart from the joy riding, they arrest you for that kind of malarky here in the uk;)lol!)

‘Run , romp and play daily’ is a good one:… last night my son and I had an off the cuff ‘pirate night’, we decided to set up a treasure hunt in the garden where he and my niece would be Pirates searching for their treasure, and I, well I became SAUCY NANCY, the Ghost of an old pirate hag who guards the treasure and treats unsuspecting pirate treasure hunters to a TASTE OF HER HOOK!AAAAAAAAR!:) We out -did ourselves on the dressing up front and had an absolute blast (the neighbours must think we’re all bonkers) I used to play with my son a LOT before I met the S/P… when I find the energy and will to do this sort of stuff again now, I think to myself…wow…I am coming back to life. Hooray for Running and Romping! (Oxy can i hand that in as this weeks homework assignment?;)x

blueskies, thanks, it does not make it less embarrassing for my all 2 public behaviour and talk of sharing with my s/p that went on for ages, but of course never would he leave his s/p partner, but at least i no it isn’t just me being the weakest link. and the fog you mention, was the most amazing thing ever, and to think that i though i had depression and was confiding in him the whole time, whilst he sat back and did that to me. laughing all the time, the worst part was having some insight and being aware of what was going on but not having any capability to stop it or stop myself. the hardest part is that they are still in our lives, very much so and i cannot shut them out as yet, not completely anyway. i read a comment somewhere where someone was talking about being in control of her “friendship” with her s/p. i thought this sounded good until i really thought properly – the sods really get to you don’t they – and realised that to be friends, they have to be real, and not just feedbacks of what i have said just in a different manner. can anyone tell me what the whispers are??? i remember overhearing them talk about it at one stage and was to BLAH to do anything.

Erin and blueskies,

I think the anger and the rage was so intense at the beggining that I was determined to be myself again and ensure that if anyones life was going to be destroyed, for sure it was not going to be mine nor of that of my children….I spent too much time studying having a career and I would not allow a bastard to destroy all that. .. I strugled with the emotional pain…and I still feel it sometimes more than others..but the pain is getting less and less. I think the cure to our pain after a life with a S is to ensure we will not sink…it helps a lot to overcome the difficulties through thick and thin but get to the other side. Today I see things in a much better way. I reverse the situation in my mind… I think: I got to sleep with a very handsome and charming man, I had great sex, I made two beautiful children (because I chose a good looking father for them) he helped me to raise them, (was a kind of a babysitter) and then left for me to enjoy them by myself . Just think how much many women are paying for IVF. I did not have to pay for that..I will enjoy the grandchildren (a thing the S will never be able to experience) and I will get the pleasure of having all that. I think like: he shared the hard times and help me raising them, and I am enjoying the good times and he is missing out every little pleasures in life…Their graduation, their first car, their driving lessons, their games, their first job enterview, their first date, holidays together, their boyfriends and girlfriends, dinning out going places together and all those very precious moments that enriches peoples lives.

I know this is an strategy to overcome the pain but it is also true.. After a life with an S, we have to focus more on the positives than the negatives to be able to bare the pain and trauma.

You two are also fabulous!!!!! we all here are fabulous people … we are learning,..we are becoming experts in dealing with very complex and difficult issues..we are not stagnants ..and most important of all…we are sharing our pain together, we are sharing our experiences in life, we are oppening our souls to each other …and this is absolutely A FORCE that only us know we have..( our secret weapon)

I admire you a lot..

D23, I know that there are some people who keep their S/Ps close for strategic reasons and I cast no disparagement on that at all, but my personal opinion is that the sooner the are gone from our life the better. ( I dont know your personal circumstances so I say that with all due respect, my narc mother is still trying to get to me by proxy so I cant spout ..:)
xxx

They cannot be healthy or good friends, they cannot be healthy or good aquaintences, they cannot be mothers fathers or sisters. NO one needs them in their life. In reality they GIVE nobody nothing (although all their ‘noise’ and ‘arm waving’ makes it seem like they have a purpose and a place), they just take, use.

A quote from some where: To socipaths, human beings fall into three categories; useful, irrelevant, or in they way. The best thing we can do is get out of the way, be in no way usful and become utterly irrelevant… to sociopaths!

It wasnt so long ago that things were as raw for me as they are for you now with the S/P and I am at a fairly new stage in ‘the process’ with dealing with wounds from mother narc, but yeah I havent forgotton how difficult it is to wrap your head around everything YOU did ( mortifying!) and also what these ‘things’ truly ARE. That there are no ‘ways’ to change them there are no ways of interacting without being stung.

Try to go easy on yourself.xx But also try to learn the lessons you need to for you. You cant do a damn thing about them.

I didnt know what you meant about whispers, so I dont know what to say about that.xx

Much Love. You’re already on the right road.xxx

PS. I waffle lots btw:)x

brillancy:)x you said ‘I know this is an strategy to overcome the pain but it is also true.. After a life with an S, we have to focus more on the positives than the negatives to be able to bare the pain and trauma.’ COMPLETELY! This is why you are an inspiration! LIVING PROOF that after all our examination of the situation and ourselves, the final TRUTH that we need to get to is that we have to find a way to live, a positive and happy existance no matter what happend to us:)xx
Much love:)x

(I spelt your name wrong again! I always want to right ‘Brilliancy’)

absolutely excellent profile name now I think about it. light radiating… perfect choice:)x

HAPPY BIRTHDAY KATHY!!!! Giving ourselves a birthday present is something I had never thought of early in my life! Actually though, who could give us a better present than we can (and SHOULD) give ourselves!?

What a wonderful tradition you and some others here have started!!! (((hugs))) and my best wishes and prayers for your next year!

Thank you for the great article! I read the first few paragraphs and shook my head in agreement. It is so funny how we find ourself “outside of our comfort zone” – doing things we would have never imagined bc we want to make them happy. My SP told me there was nothing wrong with doing those things – it added excitement to life. What it really was – was morally wrong decisions that could have proved dangerous to my health and well being! I still fear for my health and wished I had realized what kind of person he really was.

I am still recovering and still working so hard everyday to find my strength.

“Many of us wonder if we are becoming sociopaths when we are recovering from these relationships.” ….and I have wondered this very same thing. He turned me into a shell of the person I once was….and made me think I was like him.

Kathy,
I wish I could memorize your article because it addresses the thoughts and attitudes I have to face every day in my recovery from P/S/Ns. So I really appreciate your references to the Dolphin, because since I can’t memorize the whole article, I can at least remember to think like a Dolphin.

The use of one image to define an idea is a very powerful tool in speech/writing. It really helps the reader carry the information away with them. Thanks.

Kathleen.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU!
I hope you enjoy your Birthday and are graced with another year of laughter and learning.
XXOO
EB

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