The only constant in life is that very little remains constant. None of us know exactly what our futures hold. This is true for everyone, regarding most aspects of life. However, when recovering from relationships with psychopathic individuals or those with psychopathic features, it is an especially important concept for us to understand.
Why? The reality is that sometimes they like to hold on to us. While the notion seems to defy logic, it is extremely common. As a result, we must be ready for what this brings, so that we do not allow them to get the best of us or hinder our recoveries. Their inabilities to release us can rapidly turn bizarre and cause significant harm, emotional or otherwise, unless we are prepared.
In addition to accepting that they have difficulty letting go, we also must learn that they often disguise their strange methods of staying connected, frequently, using seemingly innocent or benign measures. However, these methods are little more than further attempts at maintaining power and control over us. Since many do not understand or recognize this, it is critical that we do.
Failure to realize and accept this, may result in serious unrest or place us in precarious situations. But with an understanding, we are better able to handle whatever comes our way in stride, eliminating or lessening any potential damage.
Weren’t they the ones who wanted out?
Well…perhaps. This “can’t let go” concept can be a difficult one to grasp, especially when many of their behaviors created the appearance that it was they who chose to end their relationships with us. We cannot help but wonder why they are unable to move on since they were the ones who were “done.”
It is important to understand that while they may have, in fact, wanted to leave their relationships with us, they wanted to make their exits on their terms. They may discard quite freely, usually once they have the next “con” safely secured, but unless everything goes according to their plans, we can usually expect that they will take some sort of punitive actions against us.
Some of us are fortunate to escape “successfully” (translation; we were “adequately destroyed,” financially, emotionally, etc.) Unless this is the case, however, their departures rarely mean that they are “finished” with us. This is especially true if they feel that the endings were not to their liking, or the initial destruction they caused was only minimal. It is quite dichotomous, but it is, nonetheless, how they tend to operate.
Why does this happen?
Sometimes, their disdain for us, what we represent, or what we have makes it difficult for them to sever ties. They may have trouble releasing their grudges for the “injustices” they perceive we caused. When this occurs, and it occurs very frequently with these individuals, harmful consequences can follow closely behind. Remember, these “injustices” could be as simple as our continued existence.
Also, these are individuals who feel that societal norms and the laws of the land do not apply to them. They want what they want and they are often willing do whatever it takes to seek what they see as “justice.”
As a result, we must remain vigilant, but still go on living. If they feel they have a “score” to settle, we simply must ride out their tantrums (provided there is no direct threat of physical danger.) Our actions, one direction or the other, may or may not impact their choices. Thus, we must use each of their stunts as opportunities to grow. I know this may sound very difficult to those currently feeling pain, but our only other option (engagement) benefits them and places unnecessary stress on us.
What happens when they just don’t stop?
Enter a variety of truly disturbing behaviors on their parts. As our health and healing increases, their behaviors tend to deteriorate. Why? They sense that they are losing their control over us. Unfortunately, they still want it. Typically, we begin to heal, in spite of what we may have experienced. This is difficult for them to process and accept.
In some instances, a strange type of role reversal seems to occur. For a time, we may have been the ones who wished to maintain or preserve the relationships. We were probably quite “invested” or had others to consider. Since we assumed (mistakenly) that our associations were genuine, we may have pushed to make things work, even in the end.
As long as we remained engaged and miserable, unable to figure out why we were unable to “fix” or rectify matters, they were happy. They liked that we were conflicted and questioning our emotions. We talked, wrote, and defended ourselves ad nauseam. As we did, they remained disinterested, ignored us, and behaved in superior fashions. Why? They still held the power.
However, over time, we recognized how they operated and learned about them, as well as ourselves, in the process. As our healing progressed, we slipped from their grasps, regardless of what they did to us or accused us of. They noticed their controlling behaviors yielding diminishing returns. Thus, they became further driven to regain their positions. They looked for ways to push us harder in order to keep us involved in their strange games.
Stalking and harassment, of various forms, often increase exponentially in this phase. This may occur in person, electronically, through the court system, through children’s matters, financially, or any other ways that they can access us.
What do we think as this continues?
As the months or years pass, we begin to see their desperate attempts at control as ridiculous. We may wonder at what point is enough, enough? Those on the periphery often ask the same. However, it is likely that they fail to realize that their quests for our destruction have grown old. There should come a time when even they realize that their “gigs” are up.
In spite of that, they often continue. They repeat behaviors that once worked, even if those behaviors no longer bring results. This further illustrates that there may be little carry over or ability to process consequences or care about them if they are able.
How should we react?
We must view this as simply one more hurdle to jump; nothing more than one more aspect of the disorder (provided their engagement attempts are non-life threatening. If they are, contact the police and/or seek legal counsel immediately.) When we realize and accept this, we allow ourselves to be prepared for anything. The reality is that we may have to endure manipulative correspondence or unnecessary trips to court from time to time.
We must review the following as much as necessary until the thoughts become automatic; we know that it is important to try to move forward with our lives after any type of significant change. When these changes occur in conjunction with severing relational ties, especially with these individuals, that may prove more challenging.
Collectively, they are unusually intent on revenge, especially if we disconnected more in-tact than they felt was acceptable. If they view any of our successes (which, again, can sometimes be defined as our mere survival) as threats, we can bank on the fact that we will meet with serious and potentially harmful retaliation that has the potential to continue, at least intermittently, for quite some time.
Regardless, we must respond with grace. Sometimes, that may come in the form non-responses or those handled by third parties. We must continue to enforce boundaries; personal and otherwise. If going “no contact” is possible, do it. If not, communicate only in fact. It is their choice to remain focused on our destruction. We, however, see and know all (or are learning) about what motivates them. Our knowledge will empower us.
Even if we no longer provide reinforcement for their behaviors, it seems to take extended periods of time for that to register. Therefore, we must persist. We must not allow ourselves to take their words or actions personally. Again, this too, is about them, not us.