By | October 6, 2007 15 Comments

Knowledge keeps me aware. My choices keep me safe

It is the rare Saturday morning that doesn’t find me and my Golden Retriever, Ellie, walking up the trail to crest the ridge of Nose Hill Park, 280 acres of rolling prairie grasses that sprawl along the northern edge of the city. This Saturday morning was no exception. Early morning. Cool air. Gentle breezes. The sky a gun metal grey blanket streaked with hopeful blue screwing up the courage to pierce the clouds and send them scuttling away. Ellie gamboled joyfully along the path, her snout quivering in anticipation of the many smells trapped in the grasses lining our path. We were alone in the gentle morning. Happy. Excited. Alive.

As we walked a woman and her dog jogged towards us. Ellie, a people pleaser by nature, bounded over to the woman to say good-morning. The woman and I exchanged a brief ”˜hello’ and as we continued on our separate ways, she called after me, “Watch out for the porcupines. I almost ran into three this morning.” I stored her advice in my mind and continued on my way.

It was a glorious morning. Russet coloured leaves and fall flowers punctuated the long golden prairie grasses like confetti strewn on a wedding carpet. Tiny birds twittered amidst the stalks of fescue. The air was alive with the promise of falls beauty unfolding and even more importantly, the ferocious mosquitoes of weeks passed had taken their leave.

My mind was relaxed, thoughts of yesterday far away and visions of tomorrow simmering on the distant horizon. I was focused on the now. Focused on each breath, each footstep I took upon the path.

It is 4 years and 4 months since the P (psychopath/sociopath) was arrested and I was given my freedom. 4 years and 4 months of No Contact. Of no interaction other than through official channels when the need arose to speak my truth when he applied for parole. 4 years and 4 months of growing, learning, stretching. Of letting go of the past, of old habits and painful thinking. Of discarding my victim state to walk with grace and dignity into freedom. 4 glorious years of becoming all that I am meant to be.

And on this Saturday morning as I walked freely through the rolling hills and felt the gentle morning breeze caress my skin, I looked up into the grey skies above and saw even more clearly, the limitless possibilities of my life in freedom.

The pooch, ecstatic to be free to roam and sniff with abandon, was oblivious to my lightness of being. She bounded ahead as I drifted behind her with the aimless joy of a branch floating along a river’s surface. I had no where to be. No where to go. Nothing to do other than to live this moment completely.

I gazed in awe at the wildflowers sprinkled amidst the long prairie grasses. I let my fingers drift through the fronds of wheat growing along the trail as my eyes lingered affectionately upon the pooch as she bounded towards something on the trail in front of us. And then I sensed a movement. Something up ahead. A mass of darkness, it lumbered along the trail.

Panicked, I called out. “Ellie! Come!”

Startled by the fear peppering my voice, she stopped in her tracks, gazed into the distance at the dark object, turned her head and looked back at me. Which way to go? I called again. She stared briefly at the lumbering figure in front of her and turned and ran back towards me.

Relieved, I grabbed her collar and quickly turned in the opposite direction. In a battle between the pooch and a porcupine, there was no contest. And no sense in testing truth. Porcupine quills hurt.

Relieved to have missed an encounter of the ”˜p’ kind, the pooch and I continued on our walk along a different trail. The vistas continued to draw us forward. The wildflowers continued to dance exuberantly in the grasses around us and the air continued to lift my spirits to the sky.

Having survived an encounter of the Psychopath/sociopath kind, I know what to look for. I know the best course of action. There is nothing to prove. Nothing to test. And there’s no sense in pressing too close to see if they can still cause pain.

Ps and porcupines are prickly beasts best avoided where ever they are. As a survivor, I know the signs, I know the symptoms. Armed, watchful, I can steer clear of their devious paths and carve out my own unique trail. My world is not diminished in taking a different path to avoid a P. It is simply different.

I can’t change Ps and sociopaths and other abusers. And, I definitely can’t tell a porcupine to keep its quills to itself. I can’t stop an abuser from being who he or she is. But I can stop abuse happening in my life.

Walking with Ellie, I chose to take a path that kept me safe. I chose to walk away when danger appeared on the trail. Everyday, I might encounter a sociopath, an abuser, a person whose traits disturb me. To keep myself safe, I must choose to do the right thing, take courageous action. Use my knowledge, my wisdom, my strength so that I can experience life free of the fear of being pricked by Ps and other apparitions. Conscious of my path, of where I’m at in the moment, I make the choices that keep me safe and leave me free to be all that I am meant to be without fear of someone else’s prickly habits invading my beautiful life in freedom.

Posted in: M.L. Gallagher

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Thank you SO much! More confirmation that life is opening back up, even greater, than before the S/N… I’ve realized I am even safer in the world than before!
For as you say:
“As a survivor, I know the signs, I know the symptoms. Armed, watchful, I can steer clear of their devious paths and carve out my own unique trail. My world is not diminished in taking a different path to avoid a P. It is simply different.”

Thanks for this article!

Even though I ‘dug’ this out of the archives,I thought it was a good read for all survivors of spaths!Our journey to healing may not always be easy in the beginning;however it is better than the pain of being ‘pricked’ by spaths!And life does get better!Dedicated to all of us!


Thanks Blossom, this was a good read for me today… I’ve been rattled and set back since I ran into my spath in public on Sunday… I realize now how his apology meant nothing and he continues to stonewall me.

Yesterday I decided that I need to make some changes in order to recover now that the stress of him is out of my life. I feel and look like I got BEAT up! I look at myself in the mirror in this aftermath and physically alone over the last 4 years I’ve gained 20lbs, stopped working out, playing adult league sports, I started drinking heavily, smoking, and relying on sleeping pills (I haven’t slept through a night until recently) But I look haggered. My skin is blotchy, my hair is dry, I’m out of shape, no men compliment me as much anymore. That MONSTER took everything emotionally and physically!!

It’s time to take it back now and I so made a series of 30 day challenges both physically, emotionally, and mentally to get healthy. I’m starting a regular exercise plan, picked 2 books to finish, bought a journal, cutting out drinking wine during the week, and starting a yoga/meditation practice regularly.

I’m out of the initial shock phase, out of denial, I’ve educated myself, I’m still having good days and bad days in terms of flipping between anger and depression(but I found a lot of depression was due to too much wine) I am ready for the healing and acceptance phase!!

Thanks for the post its just what I needed on “Day 1”

Serenity12 – TOWANDA to you! Way to go girl! That’s the way to take back your life. Make the commitments to yourself! And now that you know what these predators are, you’ll never be derailed by one of them again!

Tea Light

Serenity, great moves on your part. I need to make similar commitments to myself. Being numb gets comfy and l don’t want that. Time to get some recovery goals set to work towards I’ve been stuck for weeks at numb


Thanks Donna and Tea,

Tealight, not that I’m an expert but I have tried before to set these goals for myself and I would continually fail because I wasn’t ready to let go all the way…I still had hope that he would “change” etc. once I let that go I just started to make LITTLE commitments maybe one/week like stretching every morning and drinking a full glass of water or a healthy smoothie. Just getting into small healthy routines for ME! After a while you see them compounding and now I’m ready to take a bigger leap.

I had great advice to go easy on myself and to start small because it is easy to fail when you’re still healing and that can make you feel worse. I took that advice and it worked.

I was also struggling with self control and will power(obviously from the abuse)and I was told not to worry about cutting out the old habits all at once(except the spath) but start to introduce NEW healthy habits and I started to love and see myself again in small things(literally by just stretching and having a healthy morning) I still had my wine and occasional cigarette, but I feel stronger in being able to control that now…I’m starting to love and respect myself enough now to know how negatively those things were affecting my life(just like my ex)

Hope that helps. Small changes lead to bigger ones. I had it backwards and tried to start big. Cutting him out was HUGE enough!!

Off for a(very slow) run!!

Love and hugs


PS I used to hold records in high school and College for long distance running and ran EVERYDAY up until about 3 years ago when things got serious with my exspath… Now I can barely last 10 minutes without stopping to have to walk. It used to bother me when we first split so I wouldn’t go running at all. I gave up. I’m just trying to be PATIENT with myself and get out there even if I have to walk the whole time….

Tea Light

Love to you serenity great advice, I set unrealistic goals in all areas so with recovery absolutely need to avoid that over reaching and then failing trap. Have an energizing relaxing run and keep posting tips for exercise shy posters like me x

Serenity – what a great approach to reclaiming yourself. The good news is you know that you do have discipline – you can’t be a runner without discipline – so now you use your discipline to support yourself. And yes, going slow is important. Rebuild your strength – physical, emotional and psychological strength – a little at a time.


Thanks Donna, just waiting for the day where I don’t think about him so much….

I’m so proud of you!You are an inspiration to all of us!There’s alot that I can no longer do,but I CAN stretch and I can walk a little!


I find its just about starting new rituals and routines that you begin to feel proud of. I really focus on my mornings(I don’t have kids so its just me) and so it provides a lot of predictability and stability for my chaotic mind…

Just start walking. And walk a minute longer everyday. You’ll be shocked what happens…

Have a great day!


Hello all my friends ,
I always read and follow your posts.
You have all been a great source of support for the last 4 years .
I have been separated with no contact from my ex spath for 4 years .
My kids now 21 and 17 have not seem their father for 4 years also, their grandparents (fathers parents ) have abandoned my kids also. My kids are focused well adjusted and kind. Their mission in life is to be all they can be and keep our family together. I am blessed in many ways .
So my question is this :
Since I am always on guard when encountering men, how do we really know if they are aliens ?
I have met a man who I really like , he is kind and seems to be honest and genuine, but how do I know if it’s real?
I was married for 20 years and he fooled me for most of it, he was the best actor ever, until the mask dropped.
I doubting my ability . I know about the signs and what to look for , but what if he is also a good actor?
He is separated and living with his 3 sons, he is taking care of them. The wife is a drinker and decided to find herself. The boys want nothing to do with her. But I remember when my ex was trying to lure the kids away from me saying I was nuts , he almost succeeded , I had to think and react otherwise I would have lost my kids , that’s how good am actor he was. What if this man is a good actor also and he has lured his kids into believing their mother is nuts, and she is drinking cause of it.
That is how my mind is working , I do not want to go through another life with insanity beside me.
What are your thoughts my friends ?

Tea Light

Welcome Survivor Lady, thanks for sharing your first post with us all! I have the same fears, I expect many of us do. For myself, I’m trying to hold on to the facts that the vast majority of epople are not personality disordered, and that in those that are, no matter how accomplished they may be at presenting a false front to the unsuspecting, they are going to have a harder time disgusing their disorder with we survivors who have done some homework on how these individuals operate. I was redaing an archive post by Steve Becker last night which I’ll post a link to in a minute; it’s called How Can You Know When You;ve Encountered a Sociopath? . It’s a great article which reminds us that , as you know form your own experiences, lying defines these people. To the unsuspecting, a clever manipulative lying sociopath might be able to get away with disguising the truth of who they are for many years. But to the alert survivor of abuse by a disordered person, signs will be there, if we know what we are looking for. Becker says in his article you don’t need a checklist or a forensic expert to know you are dealing with a sociopath – just actively look for discrepancies, misrepresentations, holes in their stories, listen to your instinct when you feel that things just don’t add up. You are in a position now to know what to look for, you weren’t in that position when your ex abused your trust. You took his words at face value, as most of us tend to, and sociopaths work with that and use it to their advantage.

Becker also says gut feeling when we are interacting with sociopaths has got to be heeded and acted upon: ”monitor your reactions” when you are with him, or conversing online. Look out for any attempts to mirror your own interests and enthusiasms with flattering , empty assurances that he is just like you. What evidence is there that he shares your values , your causes, your cultural or social interests? My abuser was a Master at mirroring. He has in reality no inner life at all, and his ‘spirituality’ is a sick joke. He spends all evening on the internet and watching TV. During lovebombing of course, he was a cultured book worm who loved museums etc. All total rubbish to lure me in. So, if we know how they operate and have our wits about us we can be alert, form this new position of knowledge and strength. The key thing I think is to remain positive about others, as most people are well meaning and many are wonderful, whilst also being cautious and putting our previous naivete about a small but dangerous element – the disordered – behind us. All the best to you and I hope your relationship with this man does brings you happiness, but please take care and proceed very slowly.

SurvivorLady – Here’s how you can protect yourself:

1. Know that sociopaths exist (you’ve got that one down)
2. Know the warning signs (you probably have that one down as well)
3. Trust your instincts

#3 is where most of us get tripped up. In the past, most of us had a bad feeling about the person we were involved with, but we talked ourselves out of our reservations. We thought everyone deserves a chance, he/she was just having a bad day, we all have baggage. Now, what is important is to listen to our own inner voice telling us that something is wrong.

But sometimes, when we’ve been betrayed, fear takes over – fear that it will happen again. So even if our instincts aren’t warning us, we’re hypersensitive to the possibility of another betrayal.

The answer is to focus on our own healing. When we are emotionally healthy, we can, as Tea Light says, remember that the vast majority of people are not disordered. And when we are healthy, we can stay calm, knowing that our instincts will kick in and warn us when necessary.

The idea is to make a conscious decision that you will recover, and then take steps to do it. Lovefraud has many articles in the “Recovery from a sociopath” section that can help you.

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