Editor’s Note: The following article was written by the Lovefraud reader who posts as “Adelade.”
My first encounter with counseling was when I was a “troubled” teenager. I’ve seen several counselors since then for various reasons. At no time was I completely honest or truthful and certain issues were “addressed,” but they were never “managed.” This was mainly due to my own shame in admitting that I had issues at all, but also due to the chosen counselors merely hearing words out of my mouth and nodding, writing, and asking, “Well, how do you feel about that?” Personally, I felt that they each should have been able to see through my fears and pinpoint where I needed to start. But, counselors are only human beings, just as I am, and they are not provided crystal balls upon receipt of their BSA or Master’s Degree. They can only work with what they’re given by their clients.
After my marriage ended, I sought counseling, immediately. I had reacted in a very uncharacteristic manner that created a multitude of legal issues, including being charged with Domestic Violence. I am not an abuser, and there were never any instances of violence or “abuse” throughout the marriage. Well, not the examples that I would have once associated with being abused, that is.
Unable to process
I sought counseling because I was unable to process my reaction to the then-known truths, and I knew that I never wanted to react in such a manner, ever again, regardless of the situation. So, I contacted my local Domestic Violence hotline, told the intake volunteer the entire story, and begged for names of counselors in the area that were familiar with DV&A, PSTD, and sociopathy — by that time, I had reconciled the man that I had loved and married fit the profile of a sociopath. Little was I to know how much of a fraud he really was until weeks later.
“I can handle this,” is a common war-cry among victims of domestic violence/abuse, and emotional trauma. We are accustomed to having control, and to seek counseling therapy is an admission that we are unable to manage our current situations, reactions, emotions, and thought processes. I was certainly not able to “handle this,” and trying to sort out my reactions, experiences, and feelings was beyond my ability, literally. I had not experienced this level of betrayal before, in my life, and I was absolutely incapable of working my way through and out of the emotional mire.
Then, there’s the stigma that people attach to seeking counseling. After all, it’s even termed as “mental health.” “Mental issues” must mean that we’re disordered or diseased, ourselves, and the stigma is absolutely visceral. This term needs to be permanently changed to “Emotional Health.” My emotions had been trampled and I was unable to put myself back together, emotionally, without help. This was emotional, not mental.
Committing to myself
Seeking out strong, competent counseling therapy is priceless to me, regardless of whether I can afford it, or not. There are many, many resources out there that will point me in the direction of low-cost-or-no-cost counseling therapy. I just have to make the decision to take the steps to do it. I must commit myself to my Self, and why shouldn’t I? Aren’t I a valuable part of this vast Universe? Aren’t I uniquely gifted with whatever attributes and qualities that I have? Don’t I deserve to feel good about myself?
A strong, competent counselor will hear the words that I’m speaking, validate my feelings, and provide me with the proper tools and techniques for me to use to recover, heal, and emerge from whatever I’ve experienced. Validation is the key to those first, wobbly baby steps on my Healing Path. The counselor isn’t going to judge me or ridicule me. The counselor is going to ask me questions — hard questions that will require me to humble myself and trust this person with everything that the exspath used to bind me to him, and this requires a huge leap of faith. The counselor is also going to point out things about me that I may not really want to hear. But, with the leap of faith in the integrity and intention of the counselor comes a grasp of courage for me to face down my foibles, faults, and weaknesses so that I can work on those things to become as impenetrable as possible against bad people with bad agendas.
Counseling only works if we want it to. Counseling only works if we match up with the “right” therapist. Counseling only works if we set aside pride, stigma, control, and false beliefs and face down our personal demons with courage, fortitude, and resolve. We have to be willing to be 100% honest and truthful, even when doing so doesn’t always make us look like very nice people. The healing process is not warm and fuzzy. It just isn’t. It’s painful, frightening, and humbling. But, with all of that, once we get beyond the shock of our own human issues, there comes the healing “itch” that we feel in our souls that signals that the scar tissue is mending and we actually begin to look forward to what we’ll find on our own Healing Paths.
I was lucky enough to be given the name of a superb counseling therapist and the fit was perfect, from the first session. I felt that she heard me and she touched on core issues that I didn’t even know had professional psychological terms to describe them. Terms like “shame-core,” “trauma-bond,” “inner-child,” and “cognitive dissonance” were all new to me. Yeah, I knew what a sociopath was, but I didn’t know that these terms directly described true vulnerabilities that left my boundaries in tatters and myself wide open to exploitation by all types of sociopaths.
With this new vocabulary and understanding, I was able to take those initial shaky steps onto my Healing Path and limp along with my bone-handled cane of “comfort,” lest I stumble or step into a hole. I’ve cast away the cane, even though it provided a false sense of comfort that was only constructed of dependency, shame, and neediness. Sometimes, I’ll glance back down my Healing Path to see that prop lying by the wayside with a brief longing for the days of blissful ignorance when I believed that I was safe, secure, and loved by my “soulmate.” But, the further I get down my Path, the smaller and smaller that support is and tall grass and flowers are beginning to obscure it, entirely. I don’t need that false support, anymore, and I would have to go backwards for many, many steps to just look at it, much less touch it. By then, it will be decayed and have become an integral part of the Healing Path right where it lays.
If you haven’t sought counseling therapy with regard to personal sociopath entanglements, I would strongly urge you do consider it. The “right” one will hear you and ask you hard questions, immediately. No pussyfooting around with copious head-nodding, rampant note-taking, and profuse “harrumphing.” Hard questions, emotional expressions, and not-so-warm-and-fuzzy observations are all hallmarks of a good, strong, and competent counseling therapist. What a good counselor doesn’t do is to tell us how to feel or invalidate our feelings. Just because “feelings are not facts” doesn’t make them invalid. Any counselor that suggests that our feelings are “wrong” is not going to be helpful.
Finding a counselor
To locate a competent counseling therapist, check out the links below, or contact your local domestic violence and abuse hotline and speak to the person that answers your call. Tell them that you want names of counseling therapists that are familiar with PSTD, domestic violence/abuse (whichever applies, or both), and sociopathy. All three of these criteria must be met. Then, with courage and resolve, engage in healing yourself of your experiences. Fear of stigma is not allowed in the aftermath of sociopath entanglements since fear was one of the spath’s most prized weapons in their arsenal.
Editor’s note: As Adelade recommends, it is extremely important to work with a therapist who understands how you are affected psychologically in a relationship with a sociopath. If your therapist does not “get it,” you are wasting your time, money and energy. Find a new therapist.
IF YOU HAVE FOUND A COMPETENT THERAPIST, please submit his or her name to the Lovefraud Professional Resources Guide. Lovefraud constantly receives requests for referrals, and we’d like to build our database of resources in English-speaking countries: the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.