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By | February 15, 2014 28 Comments

Continually picking at the ‘psychopathic scab’ won’t give the wound a chance to heal

Editor’s Note: Sarah Strudwick, based in the UK, is author of “Dark Souls Healing and recovering from toxic relationships.”

By Sarah Strudwick

heal

verb \ˈhēl\

: to become healthy or well again

: to make (someone or something) healthy or well again

This week I had to have two teeth out, which turned out to be pretty painful. I also ended up with an infection. I’ve had wisdom teeth out before many years ago but didn’t necessarily want to remind myself of how uncomfortable it was. Despite the pain and infection, I know in time the gums will heal, albeit they may feel and look a little different after.

We get hurt

When we fall in love or become victim to a psychopath, often our hearts and/or minds become broken, albeit temporarily. It can take time to heal old wounds. It doesn’t mean the scars will vanish or the pain will never go away, but sometimes we are able to forget about the original trauma and make a decision to move on. Just because something is damaged or has been broken doesn’t necessarily mean you have to keep on reminding yourself of it all the time.

Five years ago when I split up from my ex, I wrote an article called “How Long Is a Piece of String,” referring to the time it takes to get over a psychopath. I cannot speak for others, but my own journey has involved putting as much energy as possible into helping myself overcome any patterns or self destructive behavior that might encourage me to go back into ANY kind of relationship with a disordered persons.

Sharing the hurt

During the time when I first started blogging and writing books about it, I was in contact with a number of other targets, many of whom had had similar experiences. Some were fellow bloggers and writers; some ran support groups. My own journey also included not spending an inordinate amount of time around other victims who were not prepared to move on.

Enough is Enough

There came a point at which I decided enough is enough. No more regurgitating and picking at old wounds. When I wrote the second book, “The Phoenix spirit,” I touched briefly on the reasons some targets remain stuck in the mode of the victim. I was quite shocked at the amount of people who want to keep others in victim mode with subtle suggestions that it’s not possible to ever get over a psychopath.

Time to fix

My personal view is for someone to want to remain as a victim for too long is not necessarily healthy. Why would anyone want to be talking about pathology for more than a couple of years? Talking about it for a couple of months is bad enough, but then it’s time to start looking within.

First of all, no one really wants to listen anymore. Then victims get stuck in this syndrome that my brother aptly called, “my leg is more broken than your leg.” This is where victims share stories and no one actually ends up really listening to the other person’s stuff. They’re just talking about what happened to them. There is a fine line between sharing stories, empathizing and literally regurgitating all of our stuff.

Fixing requires a  journey of independence

As a result, I decided to ask my friend and fellow author, George Simon, about his own thoughts on victimhood and forums, and his reply was as follows:

The non-aggressive but fiercely assertive, independent life is undoubtedly the healthiest, but also without a doubt, the most daunting. To take the truly independent path means parting company with everything that we’ve become accustomed and attached to, including all the junk baggage we’ve lugged around for most of our lives. But in the end, every journey down the independent path begins with a from-the-gut firm and irreversible “goodbye.” Some folks simply wallow forever in the fear of that first step. And sometimes the forums you speak of and even therapy itself only “enable” that paralysis.

Focused on healing

So it came as no surprise when the other day I came across a very long post from a fellow victim who was still going on about how much pain she was going through and how hurt and wounded she felt. This was the very same person who had gotten extremely angry with me when I moved on, and told me that it was not possible to ever heal from a psychopath because you always PTSD. At the time I decided to disengage from this person, and it enabled me to focus on the rest of my “healing.”

The word “healed” has many connotations. I prefer to use the description “to become healthy or well again.”

If you use an analogy of a scar or a scab that has replaced the original wound, knowing what is underneath is the key to real healing. You may well be who, or what, caused your injury in the first place — be it an emotional or physical pain — that may have kept you stuck in the past.

The wound under the scab

For example, if you had a scar on your leg, would you constantly keep telling someone how you acquired it? Scars from being with a psychopath run deep. Many are invisible to the naked eye. However, in order to let it “heal” properly, there comes a point at which you need to stop constantly picking that invisible scab off as your way of validating yourself to others. You may need to put your injury in the past and no longer discuss it.

Stop picking the scab

Acknowledging and processing the pain from the past is one thing, but constantly picking off scabs and checking what’s underneath is, in my opinion, not always going to help. If you needed therapy and have done all the necessary work on yourself, such as dealing with your own crap, then there is often no need to keep on attending the wound.

When you run into people and situations that differ from your reality or experiences, citing things such as you can “never be healed” or that you “will always be damaged,” is disempowering, to say the least. Not only does it take away that hope that got you far enough in your journey that you feel better, or are happy, it puts you back into a place where you may feel that your experiences were all your fault all over again.

Time heals the scab and the wound

There’s an old expression time heals everything. When it comes to getting over a psychopath, pick away until such time as your body says enough. Eventually you will get better and your battle scars will be a subtle reminder as to why you don’t ever want to keep on picking away. Whilst I feel deep empathy for the woman who is still clearly suffering, I’m also relieved that I am no longer in contact.  I might still be stuck as a victim, believing that I, too, can never get over my experiences.

In my humble opinion, I believe eventually you will come to a point, as I did recently, when someone asked me what happened. Whilst they sat jaw dropping listening to the story, I continued in a matter of fact way, without being triggered or getting upset. I reminded myself that evening, with a moment of clarity, that I never really want to talk or discuss what happened ever again.

 


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Hopeinhealing

Thank you for putting into words what I have been feeling for a few months now. When I first found this site I needed to vent and vent I did. I am still checking in regularly, but seldom post any more. And I am working my way towards not even feeling like I need to check in.

mcmjuly

Sarah,
Your article is right on! I dare say, I seem to be very “stuck.” Although I am actively seeking healing through therapy and just complete honesty with myself I asked myself just yesterday how I really feel about the aftermath of my marriage to a psychopath. Here is what I told myself:

1. I no longer love him and am quite disgusted by the thought of him.
2. I no longer have emotional pain associated with the loss of him.
3. Compared to other relationships I have had in the past, I do not feel totally indifferent toward my marriage to him.
4. In my past relationships usually it took no longer than a year to feel totally renewed and completely moved on.
5. It’s been 6 years since the end of my marriage, yet it will bring tears to my eyes quicker than anything else can.
6. Why?
7. It’s seems to be more about what he knowingly and deliberately did to my life. Coming into my life when I was at the pinnacle of my hard fought after success and dismanteling it bit by bit.
8. Number 7 seems to be why I can’t move on. Add to that the fact I was hitting 50 years old when he left, I became resentful of the fact that I had to start over at this age…again, after fighting very hard to obtain the simple, yet stable life I had before I met him.
9. I started living on my own for the first time this year after living with my grown daughter for the first 5 years after my break up with him.
10. I really hope I can start to break free of the negative feelings I have in regard to my marriage to a psychopath.

HanaleiMoon

mcmjuly, I can relate to most of your points and I have something to say about Number 8. I was 56 when I was discarded. Because of him, I lost my place in a career where I was at my professional and earning peak, my life’s savings and a home that would have been paid for in three more years. I’m starting over too. The hardest thing for me was to accept all I have lost and realize it will still be ok. Oh, I’m beyond pissed, but I still have me, and (I need this on a tee shirt), I am the one who created all that I lost in the first place. I don’t have the years ahead to recreate it all again as it was, but I CAN recreate my own simple stable life that had before I met him. And that’s exactly what I’m going to do. You will too.

Kathleen

I was 61 and lost everything. Sarah, it’s a bit like telling a depressed person to get over it, pull yourself together. It’s not easy.

SER

Kathleen…I agree. I totally understand what Sarah is talking about, but it makes people like us feel bad who just can’t get past it. Even as much as I have tried, I cannot forget about it. I have moved on, but it’s forever on my mind. David’s article about the pseudopersonality really makes sense to me. I think anyone who cannot “get over it” is suffering from this. They created something in us that isn’t just easily sent away. Like David said, the relationship is over, but the pseudopersonality they created does not just disappear.

victim3

very well put SER

mcmjuly

Wow Moon….gosh we have alot in common. I wish we lived close by….one of the greatest damaging things I do is isolate myself from the world. I know it’s not healthy, but I’m distrustful and resistant to form any type of relationship. I seriously don’t feel like I’ll ever be with another man (post menopause might have something to do with this as well as my bad marriage), but sometimes I feel I should have other types of relationships. I have 2 grandsons I see about once a week (little guys), and a grown daughter who is not that interested in me. Thank goodness I also have 2 sisters who completely understand what I went through and we skype at least once a week. But it is so nice to talk to someone like you, Moon, who understands at a very deep level. Thanks again girl!

OpalRose

HanaleiMoon – thanks for your comment – you wrote:

“I don’t have the years ahead to recreate it all again as it was, but I CAN recreate my own simple stable life that had before I met him. And that’s exactly what I’m going to do. You will too.”

I really needed to hear this today. I’m 58 years old and have been contemplating leaving my almost 32 year marriage. Just this week – I’ve learned more crap about him and have decided to “move forward” with a plan to get out.

I kept thinking I could “shelter in place.” That’s where I’ve been stuck.

I really appreciate LF. So much reality – so much validation – whew…..

Kathleen – your comment below – 61 and lost everything. I’m right behind you girl – hugs to you.

Imara – you wrote on another thread about sand castles – perfect analogy – thank you !!

Imara

Sarah reading your blog was greatly helpful to me. Its been five years since my ex’s mask slipped and I love the work of George Simon. Both his books are worth their weight in gold!!!
Today was a tough day for me….and I kept saying to myself all day that being non aggressive, fiercely independent and assertive is what my constant goal needs to be!!!!!
I’m leaving a place I raised kids in and have been at for 25 years….new life,new ways and fresh perspective is what I’m aiming for…so this article was very timely for me!! Thank You!!

HanaleiMoon

Sarah, your post puts into words what I’ve been feeling for awhile too. It has been 2 1/2 years since I was discarded after a 7 year relationship, and looking back, I can see my evolution. The first 6 months I was, I think, in shock and all I wanted to do was talk about it. Then I discovered what he was and what had been done to me and I went through about a year of reading everything I could get my hands on, educating myself and getting therapy. Gradually the need to talk about it endlessly went away and early in the last year I realized that my education had reached a saturation point and I knew all I needed to know about what had happened to me. I have continued my therapy on a less frequent basis and still check in here once in awhile, but I have noticed that sometimes reading about psychopathy stirs up old memories and can get me to thinking things that are of no value to me now. When I do visit here, I am more likely to post, since I feel I am at the point that I have something to contribute now, but I have noticed that weeks and sometimes months have passed by without even thinking of coming here. I have had no contact with the ex since the discard except through attorneys and the last remaining connection, a financial one, will be cut by the end of this month. I really feel that, as you put it, there is no need for me to keep attending the wound. There aren’t many people in my life from the pre-discard days anymore, but I have noticed that one in particular is really invested in me staying “sick”. I get unsolicited emails from her lecturing me on her fears of me becoming a lifetime victim and judging my choices and I realized awhile ago that she’s not afraid of me becoming a lifetime victim, she is afraid that maybe I’m strong and whole again, and that doesn’t serve her. With “friends” like this, who needs enemies? Anyway, thanks for putting into words what I’ve been feeling.

flicka

Agree 100%! There comes a time when “venting” just keeps us stuck in the same old rut and what we actually need is a good swift kick in the butt as a reminder to just put one foot in front of the other and start living the rest of our lives! But kudos to Donna and Lovefraud for trying to help those in pain.

victim3

i agree with the title and most of the responses…but i will never forget what happened and am hardend for prob life…yes.. the effect of the sociopathic liar…trying very hard to move on i just want justice served. cause this crap just isnt right…people who do these things are the anti christ

victim3

glad this forum is here to vent though

aotearoaangel

Thank you for this Sarah, makes sense to me a lot. The times between when I remember are getting so much longer. And I don’t remember with that furore of emotion and powerlessness now. Nor am I triggered by reading other peoples experiences now. I read everything desperately in the beginning, then went into a stage I couldn’t read anything it made me feel so bad.
I like your ‘healthy or well again’ But to me its more than that and the reason I don’t like the term recovery either. I don’t want to just recover, I want to be better, different but better than before. And in so many ways I am. If I don’t learn from this and take some good things from it then it was wasted suffering and wasted time. So to recover what I lost isn’t enough, Ive gained a sense of my resilience, of the strength I never knew I had, of the courage I have (even though it didn’t feel like that when I was a ball of wrung out misery and hopelessness BUT Im still here, still loved, still working, still growing- albeit reluctantly at times- and I still laugh and have a sense of the ridiculous)
Yes I lost things I will never recover but maybe I didn’t need them anyway? I am so much BETTER than I was because I know so much more about me than I did. I appreciate my wonderful loving healthy relationships with family and friends more than I could have ever imagined. I have a tiny core of tempered metal inside me which means I have relationships I want not need.
I know this is a bit of a rave but anyone who says you never recover are wrong, wrong, wrong, it IS possible but also aim higher than that be better than before, scars and all.

Tea Light

I found LF in January of 2013. I visited daily for months, at least six months I think. I’ll never forget the kindness of the posters who pulled me through those months ( BBE, Louise, Truthy, Oxy, fixerupper and many others). It was impossible to explain back then, to family, close friends, even the therapist I was seeing, how devastated I was as a result of letting a dangerously unstable and disordered man into my life.

The people here knew what I had been exposed to, they understood pathology, they gave me the vocabulary and the information I needed to drag myself out of the breakdown I had after this man’s mask came off and he repeatedly assaulted me.

I agree with Sarah whole heartedly that recovery must be the focus and the aim of everyone here who has been damaged by a sociopath. I think learning about personality disorders can play a vital role in survivor’s recovery and offer valuable life lessons for future safety. I found it empowering and sanity restoring to learn about my abuser’s PDs. But for me, after 6 months of reading every peer reviewed research paper and every recommended survivor handbook and possibly hundreds of blog posts on LF, I knew all I ever will need to. I am not a therapist, or a psychiatrist or a psychologist or a criminologist or a neurologist. And I don’t run a blog for survivors.

As Sarah says, it probably is a sign of continuing trauma to be immersed in reading about ”sociopaths” years after contact with the offender has ceased, if you’re not working in one of the above professions. And I think that whilst survivor groups can be very comforting, there can be a danger of survivors re-traumatising one another in sharing their recollections of abuse. i know I felt helpless and distressed on occasions here on LF reading posts by women who had been attacked by their violent psychopathic partners. Sometimes in the midst of trauma you need to give your mind a total break from any material that might be more unhelpful than helpful to you.

I had many of the signs of PTSD in the first months following the assaults. Insomnia, agrophobia, hypervigilance, nightmares, weeping constantly. This is all normal following exposure to extremely, unusually stressful and dangerous situations, but, PTSD should be surmountable in time and with the right support and treatments. I’d say that if survivors are needing to discuss these disorders and their trauma years after ending contact then they should consider whether they would benefit from asking for professional support from their doctor, or a mental health professional. Or further, or different support, if the support you have had so far is not helping you move forward.

Ruminating about past events that can’t be changed now is a symptom of major depression; if anyone is finding that their thoughts are engaging on a daily basis with their abuser, or feel the need to journal or blog daily about the abuser, or if they are still experiencing distressing symptoms of trauma, a couple of years after the relationship is over, then please, think about accessing real life support in your community to help you move forward.

flicka

Well said Tea Light! My thoughts precisely though I must admit that Donna and her site has been most helpful in educatingignoramouses like me.

SER

Tea Light…that’s all true, but what if, even with the therapy and support, you feel that you cannot get over it? It’s people like me who feel like we are just so broken that nothing is ever going to help. Does that make me crazy? I don’t think so…just broken.

aotearoaangel

SER I felt like that. Something that helped me a lot then and still now actually on bad days is I would think I only have to get through this moment. I didn’t look too far forward and tried really hard not to look back. I could manage a moment, I just couldn’t bear to think of longer than that. I only had to cope with what was directly in front of me. My head would go skittering off all the time, into the dire past or a terrifying future, I just kept coming back to right now
In the end, right now is all we have, the past has been and the unknowable future hasn’t happened yet. You only have to do now.
It might not work for you but it did for me, stopped the soul sucking overwhelm.
I felt like I had shattered into a 1000 pieces and had no idea how to get them all back together or if Id even find them all. Everything had changed, everything seemed alien and frightening.
For me it was a bit like rebuilding a house that had been shattered in an earthquake. The foundation work took forever but something inside said work slow and careful on the foundation and the rest might be easier.

SER

aotearoaangel…thank you so much for that. It made me cry. You are so right. All we have is now…not the past, not the future. Thank you.

aotearoaangel

Im glad SER, its comforting in a strange way isn’t it?
You made me feel good too SER, its so nice when hard won knowledge is useful to someone else.

Tea Light

Hi SER, I think it is a devastating experience to have been a victim of a disordered person and the trauma that results can be complex to heal. I don’t think you are broken.

Here’s some things that helped me about a year ago, when I was feeling very broken too.

As aotearoaangel says, try to be in the present moment, this can be very stabilising and grounding when you are feeling overwhelmed. You might find Jon Kabat-Zinn helpful. He is a medical professor who advocates Mindfulness in managing depression and anxiety. It’s no ”quick fix”, but his tutorials on youtube might be an interesting distraction for you, in any case he has a very soothing voice which is comforting to listen to. His book ‘The Mindful Way Through Depression’ comes with a CD you can listen to which guides you through some meditations. These help you to focus on the present moment, your body, your feelings, and breathing through those feelings, which will pass.

I stopped watching any violent or aggressive imagery on TV, including the news. I could not handle images of people crying or distressed in war zones and so on. I had to cut out any overstimulating material that made me feel helpless. It may help your mind to relax if you try something similar.

I tried to make my home a kind of sanctuary for my self to heal in. I didn’t really spent much money on this, I just kept it cleaner and tidier than usual and bought myself flowers , and cleared a table and put tea lights on that ( hence my LF name) and each evening I’d light the candles and just try to be quiet and still and let myself feel whatever I was feeling, rage, fear, isolation, however bad, and then just let it pass, which it does, SER. All these feelings have their moment, then they pass. If we can sit with them and observe them ‘happening’ and respect them, and then let them pass, we can learn not to feel trapped in our feelings.

I also took medication for anxiety, and to help me sleep.

And i prayed, and gave what I couldn’t handle to God.

It’s very hard SER, and there are no easy answers, and noone should try to tell you what to do , you know yourself what you need, but some of these suggestions might be helpful. Keep asking for help. Go back to your doctor, find the support in your community, and make it clear, you need help.

All the very best to you in your recovery.

Tea Light

SER, here’s a link to Kabat-Zinn reading one of his own books, he talks a lot about being ‘stuck’ and ruminating on the past, and suggests techniques we can practice to bring our selves into the present. Hope it is of use to you, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8q5CA_htK_s

StunnedBrokeSad

I WAS truly ‘Stunned” when I first found this life-saving site and I’m certain I’d still be in my isolated pit of despair if I hadn’t read the many pearls of wisdom you all shared; And I thank you from the bottom of my mostly- happy heart! I too have had less need to check in here as I’m very ‘over’ thinking about the ghoulish s’path I let into my life; Thoughts of him are now like an old fading nightmare.
I do however, still have periodic bouts of very deep sadness, despair & self-loathing over my losses because of ‘The Evil One’…especially the heirlooms from my beloved Grandmother and most of my savings. But It dawned on me one day about a year after my s’path skipped town and I’d spent billions of hours reading LF, going to therapy and learning all I could about s’paths, that I really, truly DIDN’T give a rat’s patoot about that disturbed, sick man and that I was actually starting to feel gratitude for what I Did have, that I was finding joy in every day again, and new confidence in me.
I realized that the ONLY time I ever thought of s’path was when I had to handle some money crisis caused by the financial nightmare he left me with. Sadly, I don’t think I’ll ever recover from financial ruin; I’m 61, have a career I love that pays very well, but I’ll be broke at month’s end for much longer than I can handle the grueling mental & physical demands of the job. I’m going to have to neglect necessary dental work, and abandon forever my dream of owning a small home of my own or retiring to finally enjoy family and friends.
While the ‘Disturbed Evil One’ did Not crush my spirit or confidence, he absolutely DID crush the hopes
I had for this last chapter and robbed me of all my choices in life, for the rest of my life; I can’t NOT think about that reality as it’s in my face every day….and that’s where I do get stuck feeling rage &grief.

In reading the comments here tonight, it seems like it’s those of us ‘targets’ who are older and were devastated financially, who appear to be having the hardest time recovering and ‘moving on with our lives’.
Perhaps it’s not so much that we’re ‘stuck’ because we’re picking ‘scabs’ and ruminating about emotional pain inflicted by our disturbed ‘others’ but rather, the grim reality of the financial consequences they caused for us rips open our scabs, kicks us in the teeth with $ crises that drain our energy every day and reminds us that we HAVE NO PLACE to ‘move on TO’ to escape the sheer terror of having no money, no (or few ) choices, and no time left to fix it that keeps us stuck in sadness, anger and hopelessness. Just my take on it…what do you think?

aotearoaangel

StunnedBrokeSad, I so hear this!! Im a little younger than you (55) and have nothing (except a scooter which I love and a cat who drives me crazy but is soft and warm)I too have a career I love but find working 40-50 hours with an hour commute each way every day EXHAUSTING. In my future I thought by now I would be working part time and have grandchildren to bounce around with. Ohhh I long to work part time and do some things I never get time for now. Uh uh Thanks to my ex I have nothing of value financially, on good days I think that’s kind of lucky, nothing for anyone to take so people only hang with me because they like me. Sometimes though it scares me witless
That’s when the only dealing with NOW is good (for me anyway). I don’t know what will happen next, I might win lotto, I might get knocked off my scooter, anything might happen.
Ive learned home is within me, where ever I am that is ‘home’ The day before Christmas I learned I have a serious health problem that changes how I live the rest of my life, the week before that that my father has end stage terminal cancer.
So Im just appreciating now and all that I have now
The one thing I do know from my spath experiences is that I can survive nearly anything, that gives me a heap of confidence.
That said, on bad days I do cold panic sweat it and have fear tornados tearing through. But I get better at dealing with those all the time (way too much practice!) and I could out bitter unripe grapefruit. Those days I am very very kind to myself… because I deserve at least that.

flicka

Dear Stunned, I also concur with what you say. Being 76, disabled and abandoned, it’s hard to think positively about the future.

hope52

Oh sweetheart “stunned” – your story is my story.

I lost everything after my psychopath husband walked out to be with his younger girlfriend. Actually, he had some help from me after I drove over to her house and THREW his clothes and toothbrush on her porch. Then I banged so hard on her glass door that I am surprised I didn’t put my hand through it!

Everyone is on their own path to healing. Recovering from such a disordered relationship is like a death. We all go thru the five stages of grief. Some get “stuck” at some stages but hopefully most of us make it to the “acceptance” part of our recovery.

My sister was “stuck” for about 8 years. She also married a psychopath and he kicked HER out of their home after a 25 year long marriage. My research has shown me that many of the these women that are stuck have underlying depression disorders that keeps them trapped in a vortex of pain. Sadly, some will never have the capacity to “move on”.

After three years I am finally in a better place. My finances still have a dismal outlook, but I am now realizing that God pulled me out of that marriage and saved my life. I was speaking to a young woman the other night about her recent break up with an obvious psychopath and I told her that she had just dodged a bullet. She was saved. I truly believe that while all of us are devastated with the realization that we were deceived and lied to by someone we trusted we should rejoice in our freedom.

Embrace it my friends. Enjoy your tuna fish sandwich and smile.

We are the winners in this battle.

“Anything we truly accept, changes us.” Eckhardt Tolle

Stargazer

Dear Stunned, when I started making trips to Costa Rica in 2010 (on a shoestring budget), I realized that poverty is all relative. Compared to much of the world, even the poorest of us are very rich. This is one way I was able to stop thinking about my own poverty.

I can still relate to how you feel because for many years I felt my parents robbed me of so much of my childhood that I lived at the mere survival level throughout adulthood. It was difficult for me to even work because I didn’t have the tools to process all of the psychological conflicts with co-workers. I was depressed, diagnosed as BPD, and I couldn’t afford decent therapy (and still really can’t). It cost me a lot to fix my teeth from all the neglect and violence of my childhood.

When I let go of the resentment toward them, my life improved dramatically. Though I am not rich and likely never will be, I have enough, and I feel constantly grateful for the simple things I have. I made a choice to give up some things I couldn’t afford. I don’t have a TV, Iphone, Ipod, or any fancy technology. I just got my first cell phone, and it doesn’t text – it’s just for emergencies. I’m actually happier without all this stuff. Strange as it sounds, I feel grateful to have the parents I did, because without the hell I went through and the things I learned from it, I would not be the person I am.

I derive much of my joy these days from giving to others. Taking the focus off myself helps keep me from going down the path of self-absorption and self pity. I am 53. I too would like to have a place that is more than 624 square feet and a decent car to drive that is newer than 17 years old. But I am extremely grateful to have these things. Many people around the world would kill to have the luxuries I have. I feel like it’s a very well-kept secret that by being grateful for everything I have, it actually makes me happier than many people who are financially well off. I laugh and smile much more than most of the people at work who have much more than I do. Heck, for that matter, the people in Costa Rica radiate a joy from within that makes you happy just to be around them. And they have nothing! They even have a national phrase “pura vida” which is a greeting and blessing and expresses their deep inner joy of being alive.

I read a news story about a couple who are also tapped into this secret. They gave up a beautiful home and two cars to live in a sparse apartment. They each allowed themselves 50 personal items and no more. That includes clothes, pots and pans, etc. Their only vehicles are bicycles. So what do they do with all their extra money? They give it back to the community by helping disadvantaged kids. And they are much happier than they were in their former lives!

If these people can be happy with next to nothing, why can’t I? That is the question I asked myself over and over until I decided to just change the way I think about having material things.

Ironically, there are several men in my life who are very interested in me. All of them are very successful and could offer me a nice home and secure life. And now I’m actually having second thoughts about whether I even want or need those things.

Breaking free from abusive sociopathic people has made me question every premise in my life. This is a good thing. I feel like I’m free to choose whatever I want to value and free to believe whatever I want to believe. And I’m not stuck believing I need the house in the suburbs, nice car, or Ipod in order to be happy.

Did any of you ever see Life of Pi? The message to me was extremely profound, if you watch to the very end. What I extrapolated from that movie is that “we get to believe whatever story we want to.” And that is the story upon which we base our happiness or unhappiness in life. If you believe you can create your own happiness in any situation except this one, then you have just written your own story. And it will be an unhappy one.

aotearoaangel

Stargazer, I think you are right. Its like we cant always choose what goes on around us or to us but we can always choose our attitude or how we see it?
Its kind of freeing having nothing in a way
I remember a colleague talking to me one day and I was really really down, quite sick actually and got caught up in a sense of uselessness and failure because I seemed to just keep falling over, I was disgusted with myself. She said to me, Caro, you are one of the strongest bravest people I know. I looked at her in utter amazement, I mean wth?? And she said- you keep getting up, you keep trying and you keep your humour.
In that one statement she took this thing about myself that I was SO ashamed of and made it into a bright shiny treasure.
Ive never forgotten it and all it was, was a change of perspective
One conversation, one time. Changed my life for the better forever.

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