Recover from the sociopath by experiencing beauty

Donna Andersen at Longwood Gardens
Donna Andersen at Longwood Gardens

What, you’re probably wondering, is that pattern behind me? The gigantic, voluptuous red curves on a field of green?

They’re apples. Thousands of red and green apples. The apples are floating in a few inches of water on the floor of the indoor conservatory of Longwood Gardens.

The display is breathtaking. It is beauty for the sake of beauty. And it is incredibly healing.

Terry and I recently treated ourselves to a couple of days off.  We took a trip not far and one of the places we visited was Longwood Gardens.

Longwood Gardens, in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, was founded by Pierre DuPont of DuPont company fame in 1906. The conservatory in which I am standing in the photo opened in 1921. Longwood Gardens now covers more than 1,000 acres, all dedicated to formal gardens, horticulture and natural beauty.

Every year, Longwood Gardens creates a magnificent Christmas display. We saw hundreds of poinsettias of many different varieties. We saw beds of cyclamen and amaryllis. We saw beautifully decorated Christmas trees. And then, when it became dark, we walked outside amid the many tall trees decorated with thousands of twinkling lights.

As we walked around, I couldn’t help but notice that I felt great.

Feeling bad

An involvement with a sociopath makes us feel terrible. At one point or another, we probably experience every possible negative emotion anger, hatred, rage, betrayal, self-loathing, powerlessness, fear, resentment, etc., etc., etc.

We certainly have reason to feel all these painful emotions. We were deceived, manipulated and exploited.

But after awhile, feeling bad simply becomes exhausting. We all deserve a break, a respite from the internal upheaval.

Two-part healing

I’ve written in many articles that an important way to release the pain caused by the sociopath is to allow ourselves to feel it. Crying is good. Stomping our feet is good.

But there is a second part to the process. Releasing the negative energy creates an internal void. To complete the healing, we need to fill the void with joy.

One way to do that is to experience beauty. Choose any experience that appeals to you gardens, art, music, natural landscapes, animals, wildlife. Go to a place where you can find your favorite type of beauty. Then soak up the experience.

Please be careful not to let your mind drift to the sociopath. If you’ve left a sociopath who you mistakenly thought was your “soul mate,” don’t think about how you wish someone was with you to share the experience. The beauty is for you, not for someone else.

At this time of year, beautiful Christmas displays are everywhere. If you’ve been involved with a sociopath who had a talent for ruining the holidays, don’t let the memory intrude on your own experience. Focus on the wonder of whatever you’re seeing or hearing.

Somewhere inside you there is a spark of the real you. Nourish that spark, and it will grow.







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Hi Elizabeth-

A couple of comments ago, you’d mentioned that you and your children were suffering more, now that some of the battle is behind you. And you expressed concerns about them not having their Dad around any longer.

Unfortunately, parents are not replaceable. And just as they would grieve his loss if he died or became incapacitated, they, and you, will go through the steps of grieving that are consistent with such a loss. The Dad they trusted and revered is gone. No matter what they think of the man who stepped into his body, the soul they attributed to him no longer exists. It is obvious that you all suffered a violent incident, and probably more than one. That violence was a form of betrayal, and made your children feel abandoned by him.

When someone dies, the end is finite, and all we can do is grieve and get past it. But when the person continues to live, it is extremely difficult to remain committed to a grieving process. Afterall, the likeness of him is just a phone call away.

The best you can do for your children is to help them understand the mindset of sociopaths. Sometimes, it takes a good therapist to help that along. And for a young boy who just lost his Dad, if that person were male, (but knowledgeable) all the better.

Keep in mind that Borderline Personality Disorder manifests in people who fear abandonment, in addition to other characteristics. So the best you can do for your children is to make them keenly aware that they are wonderful, special people and that he is simply incapable of being the parent they expect and want him to be. It’s not their fault.

When you are going through the throws of chaos or stress, your focused mindset can propel you along, and even bond you more closely with your children. But once the immediate stress is relieved, the real grieving process sets in.

Just like having to begin grieving after the funeral guests are gone, your children are now having to face the reality of life without Dad.

So here are some things that might help you pull your kids through this….. As a family, you could get involved in some type of charitable work. Young guy things- (sorry to be sexist but we need to deal with reality here), how ’bout Habitats for Humanity or helping out at a neighboring soup kitchen. There is nothing better than helping others to make us feel better about ourselves and rebuild self esteem.

Another positive activity could be athletics. And the fact that they’ll have a male coach could be helpful, as long as you’re careful about how testosterone-laced they are. Pumping up their endorfins through vigorous exercise will give them a positive sense of self. Embrace whatever activity achieves this for them.

Nurturing and parental warmth help build the oxytocin receptors in a child’s brain. Sounds like your children are a bit older than this early development milestone, but warm interaction with them is the best counter-measure to what they’ve gone through. That doesn’t mean be a push-over. It just means that when the answer is “no” try to say it with as much kindness and love as possible.

All those things that you do for your kids, you also need to do them for YOU! Be good to yourself. Expect to have the bad days mixed with the good. Soon you’ll realize that the good ones outnumber the bad. And a little later, you’ll begin to wonder where the bad ones went. And we’re all here to help you through until that happens!



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