by Quinn Pierce
As with all new beginnings, the New Year always brings a sense of hope for a better tomorrow. And as this year draws to a close, I have to admit that I feel a sense of relief. This was definitely one of my more challenging and tumultuous years, and I will be happy to consider it part of my past.
Recognizing Positive Experiences
However, before I do, I think it’s important to acknowledge my accomplishments within the struggles. Sometimes, when we are plagued by the abuse, and the inevitable drama, from the sociopath in our lives, we may have learned to cope by pushing away the memories that cause us to re-experience the hurt and sadness.
But, as survivors, we need to recognize our strengths and successes along the way. We may all be at different places along our healing path, but we are all on the path, and that’s what makes us extraordinary.
Enjoying Each Success
Before I make any resolutions for the New Year, I will first take some time to look back over all I have learned and how much I’ve grown. I will think about the small steps I took to reclaim parts of myself that I unknowingly gave up over the course of my marriage and even my divorce. And, I will allow myself to enjoy who I am right now, even if I have more learning, and growing, and healing yet to come.
A Year In Review
The funny thing about looking back over an entire year is how different things look from our new perspective. We realize just how much we go through in such a short time and how clear everything looks in hind-sight. It can be both a blessing and a curse to have such clarity; the key is to learn from mistakes and move forward, instead of dwelling on what we should have done, as well as giving ourselves credit for our successes.
For me, looking back over the year is an important step in helping me look ahead to the new year. I often feel like I have accomplished very little in the day-to-day battles and drama created by my ex-husband, but I know that is far from the truth when I look at the big picture, rather than each individual conflict.
I’ve made many lists over the years that had to do with avoiding conflict with my ex-husband, but now, I can spend my time on much more positive categories of my life.
As is true of each healing path, our accomplishments will vary for each of us. For some, discovering and accepting that a significant other is a sociopath is a tremendous accomplishment and deserves recognition as such. It means that we recognize something is wrong, our relationship is not normal, and we deserve a healthier life that includes genuine love and support.
Others may have taken steps to break free of their relationship, while some of us continue to distance ourselves from abuse and take back control of our lives.
For me, this year meant discovering my own strength, redefining boundaries, and learning to trust my instincts.
I learned that avoiding conflict at all cost meant giving up the ability to make healthy decisions. It also meant sending mixed messages to my boys and causing them to think I couldn’t protect them.
All of my good intentions led to my ex feeling confident enough to accuse, blame, and threaten me on a new level that also dragged the rest of my family into the fray. It was a sort of an awakening for me. I had to figure out what I was doing wrong, and what I needed to do to make it right.
At the time, it was an exhausting, draining, challenging task. It was a lot like the bad dream of showing up to class and finding out there is a test you didn’t study for. Every day was a test I was afraid I would fail.
But each day, I kept trying. Some days were set-backs, and some days I felt like I was treading water, but in the end, each day brought me closer to the healthy place I need to be.
I finally set real boundaries with my ex that are not negotiable. If he pushes them, I push back. That is a new experience for me, and it takes practice. But, I learned that in order to take back control of my life, I had to let go of something I didn’t even know I was holding on to: worry.
I was afraid of what the repercussions would be for my children if I challenged their father’s behavior when they were with him. I finally understood that it didn’t matter what I did, his behavior would be the same. There is no way for me to change how a sociopath acts; all I was doing was giving myself a false sense of control.
Ironically, it took his most vicious attack for me to figure out my strength. There is no such thing as an amicable relationship with a sociopath, especially one who has been rejected. His constant attacks, despite my attempts to keep the peace, demonstrated this fact quite clearly.
When I look at where I was this time last year, I hardly recognize the person standing in my place. I don’t think I could repeat this past year and all its challenges, and honestly, I don’t even know how I managed to get through most of it.
Fortunately, I won’t have to repeat any of these experiences because of all that I learned along the way.
I look back and realize I took more than a few small steps forward. I faced each challenge, I asked those I trust for support, I believed in myself, and I went up against the bully.
I’m proud of myself, and I’m proud of my list of accomplishments. I know I have many challenges ahead, but I will be armed with more knowledge, trust, and experience to guide me through.
I’m glad the past year is over, and I’m looking forward to the upcoming year with a cautious optimism. In the meantime, I’ll keep moving forward one day, one step at a time on my own unique journey, grateful for the chance to share my steps along the way with all of you.
Wishing you all a happy, healthy, safe New Year.