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Without the sociopath, a better future does not require a better past

Those who fail to learn the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them.”—George Santayana

Imagine a tape running through your head that has all the things that ever happened to you playing on a continous loop through your mind. Now, imagine that every time you look forward, every thought, idea, word, motion is filtered through that tape, again and again. Every time you think about the future, you have to look through the past.

That’s what happens in our heads, every day, when we remind ourselves that something which happened yesterday is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. That’s what happens when we don’t question what we learned in the past, and drag it forward with unrelenting loyalty into the present. Our future is predicated upon what we do today. When what we do today is founded on what we experienced in the past, rather than on what we learned, we are “doomed” to repeat the experiences without learning the lessons.

What happened in the past, is the past. It’s history. And, it doesn’t need to repeat itself, as long as we take care today to assess what we learned about ourselves and look at the world through our eyes of understanding, rather than our eyes of fear.

Learning from the past is not about what other people did to me. It’s about what I did in response to what other people were doing. My learning comes when I focus on me, not when I focus on someone else, through trying to change them, or deny them from their own truth by trying to force my truth on them.

Awakening to reality today, sets me free of yesterday

When I awoke from the nightmare of an abusive relationship to the reality of my life the day the police walked in and arrested my abuser, I had to accept that what was real that morning was my life in that instant — it wasn’t my life forever more — it was simply my life in that moment. Now, there wasn’t an awful lot right with my life — but I was alive — and, being alive meant I knew I would be able to heal, to make changes, to take steps forward that would create the life of my dreams, as long as I didn’t drag the mistakes of the past with me and as long as I didn’t hold him accountable for my life. Yes, he had done many things that were wrong — he is/was accountable for those things. But, if I kept repeating the things he had done, how he had harmed me, hurt me, abused me, I was holding myself tied to him. He was gone. I needed to keep him gone and the best way to do that was to turn up for me, in all my beauty, pain, sorrow, warts and all.

Letting go of the past is challenging. Our minds are conditioned to believe the voice of fear that keeps whispering — Be careful. Don’t do that. Don’t move. Watch out! You’re too hurt to move forward. Look what happened the last time you did that, trusted someone, went there, said that….

The truth is, if the past didn’t kill you in its passing, it can’t kill you today. The past has no power to hurt you. But it can haunt you, because keeping it alive through memory can cause you pain today.

I create what I fear

When I fear the past, I recreate it, every day, in my mind. If anyone has read or watched The Secret, they’ll understand the truth of this statement. If you keep your thoughts focused on replaying what happened in the past, those will be the thoughts you surround yourself with, every day. And those thoughts will create the life you see in your head.

When I was set free from that relationship, almost four years ago, I had to make a choice. Do I want the past to become my future? Do I want to carry the weight of what happened to me with me as I healed? The answer was NO!

I wanted to live the life of my dreams. I’d just come through my worst nightmare. Why repeat it?

To ensure I didn’t repeat it, I had to look at what happened to me, within me, by me, and let go of what he did. I had to hold myself accountable for every action, step, idea, thought I had had that created the devastation that was in my life that morning when I was set free.

In holding myself 100% accountable for everything I had done and for all that my life had become, I gave myself the grace and power to be accountable for 100% of what I did from that moment forward.

Who needs a magic wand when there’s tender loving care?

Don’t get me wrong, there was no magic wand that was going to make my life “all right” over night. I was psychologically bruised and battered. I was homeless. Penniless. Jobless. I needed time to heal. To soothe my wounded soul and nurture my spirit back to wellbeing. I needed to treat myself with tender loving care.

I was very fortunate. I had a sister who, along with her husband, gave me a safe and welcoming place to stay. They were my angels in those first months of recovery. They gave me a place to catch my breath so that I could stabilize myself enough to begin to take one step forward every day.

Look at Joe Simpson, who wrote Into the Void. He broke his leg during the descent of a mountain in Peru. While navigating his way off the mountain in a snowstorm, he fell into a crevasse and spent a night crying in despair, believing he was dead. Finally, he realized that was not the death he was meant to have. If he was to die, he wanted to go out fighting. So, he took action. He started maneuvering his way off the ledge he’d landed on when he fell into the crevasse, onto another ledge he saw in the distance. He spent four days fighting for his life, crawling his way out of that glacier, and lived to tell the tale.

When the sociopath was arrested and I awoke to freedom, my life felt pretty black. But, in the distance, I spied a tiny glimmer of light. I started moving towards it. I kept moving. I kept taking one step forward, every single day, to ensure I healed the wounds and didn’t let the past fester in my veins. I took care every day to count my blessings and I took care of me — tenderly, gently — I had been abused. I did not need my own voice to add to the damage. I needed my voice to encourage me, support me, love me.

I turned up for me

Four years later, I continue to take care of myself with tender loving care. I deserve it.

There is no sense in telling myself that I will never heal. Or, I will never get over him, or forgive myself, or him, or anyone else for that matter who has ever harmed me. There is no sense in holding my pain in place like a butterfly on a mat. When I do that, no matter how far I extend my wings, they will never fly, for they will be pinnioned beneath the glass, frozen in time.

What keeps you down?

What are you holding onto from the past as a truth today? Is it “true,” or is it something you believe based on what happened back then that you keep replaying in your mind believing if you do, it won’t happen again? There are no guarantees in life, but you can be assured if you keep fearing the light, you will never step out of the shadows of the past.

Ask yourself, can what happened then be duplicated exactly the same way today? Is that actually possible? Is that what I want in my life today? Is that who I am? Do I know less about myself today than I did when I met him, or do I know more? Do I love myself more or less today than I did back then?

Life is full of change. It’s constant. Continuous. Fluid. This page, blank a moment ago, is now filled with letters that make up words. It has changed in the time it’s taken me to write it.

Change is here to stay

When we hold onto the past, we are resisting change. When we resist change, we resist living freely.

Embrace your life today. In this moment. Exactly the way it is. Love yourself today. In this moment. Exactly the way you are. Let the past go, sweep away regret and doubt and fear and anger and step into the freedom of living this moment without the fear that what once was has to be again.

It doesn’t have to be! It’s your choice!

Posted in: M.L. Gallagher

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12 Comments on "Without the sociopath, a better future does not require a better past"

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I try every day but I cannot, even with a lot of therapy, get him out of my mind. I wonder what his doing, who he is with and how much fun he is having while I am suffering still…after 9 months since he was arrested— and which was the only thing that prevented me from returning to him. He has impacted my life in such a way that I think I am irreparably damaged. And I know he gets great pleasure out of knowing that. He is a dentist from a good family, seemingly ordinary but charming and he flattered me excessively. I didn’t see those as red flags He came into my life and filled me up with affection and the belief that I was the true love of his life…the soulmate of all soulmates and that we were destined to be together. He also methodically chipped away at my self esteem (and I am a very successful accomplished woman), and manipulated my mind, until I got to a point where I completely distrusted my own instincts. Even when I uncovered a huge betrayal of him online and dating and sleeping with dozens of women, I was brought back in with promises of love and devotion and faithfulness. My therapist (I nearly had a breakdown when I found this all out) told me right away that he was a sociopath, but I didn’t care. Then, I found out that he was constantly online as different personnas with different names and professions, just to trick women on the Big Women sites into believing he loved big women and used them for fun and sex. I believed him when he told me he could stop. Another therapist told me he was a dangerous sociopath and to get away. I couldn’t even though his pleasure was now coming from the fact that he was torturing me. I even took him to a therapist who asked him WHY he was meeting women online under fake names…and his answer was simply that he guessed he was BORED. That is a glaring sign of a sociopath and I still couldn’t get away. No one in my life understood WHY I was with him. They didn’t see him as charming or loving so I isolated myself from everyone just to be with him. I could not SEE what they saw. Now, that I am away, and after lots of therapy, I still think about him and how he made me feel when he made me feel good…and nothing in mylife compared to that. I have thoughts of him giving someone else those good feelings and it makes me very sad even though I can SAY to myself that he will never last with anyone. I don’t want him to be happy and the therapist all say…he will never be happy. But I see him that way…and resent that he has left me with so much sadness that prevents me from moving on….and he just moves on. Even with all the guidance that this wonderful website provides…and I do think it is my best source for people who truly understand what it has been like to be under the spell of a sociopath….I am not sure when and if I will ever be able to get him out of my mind.

Agree

I can completely relate to feeling depleated by a sociopath. TONIGHT I feel was the last straw for me. I got a deperate call from my ex boyfriend sociopath talling me he had no place to stay and he came grovling at my doorstep. I let him in but felt uneasy with his visit. I had to go to work and let him stay here, I didn’t think there was really anything of value that he would take. WELL BOY WAS I WRONG> I kept in contact with him while I was at work and I could hear a change in his voice ( he uses drugs but told me he was clean and over it-stupid me!!!) Once i think he realized that I picked up on him being high I then changed my attitude too. When I got home from work he had not only disappeared and left my house (tho I didn’t give him keys) and to my discovery stole and expensive digital camera and charger. Now I don’t know the sequence of events, nor does it matter…

I don’t know if he used the camera to buy drugs but that is my assumption bc he has no money and there is no money in the house. I don’t know if it was my attitude that made him go. He took all his belongings and left a few random items.

Now this was the last button to push…drug addict or not…my kindness was thrown into my face.

I guess the most mind boggling aspect of all this is that I KNOW he will try to call me again at some point in time. The balls that someone after doing such a thing would contact me again makes my mounth drop to the floor.

Sorry about the rambling post. My temper is unexplicable. I want to get even. I am mad at myself more than anything for allowing this to happen. I can’t believe my stupidity. I set myself up to fail. I was to get him arrested and teach him a lesson.

It is not about the camera which is a materialistic thing but more about the disrespect and nerve that of such a person.

GASP!!!! any words from people who have expereience similar events….

The only real insight I had into my sociopath’s sick mind was when he walked in on me talking to a woman who I had just uncovered he had sex with after going on a BBW site. He lied to her about loving BBWs (he openly ridicules and hates overweight people) told her he was a investment banker, gave a fake name, false information…and she was telling me all this. He sat and listened to the conversation. When I got off the phone he just looked at me, and I could see that he was totally void of any feelings about me being hurt, or about tricking the other woman. He didn’t know what to say, not because he didn’t want to say something wrong. HE had no idea what the problem was. He didn’t do it to hurt me in particular. He did it because it was fun and he has no conscience so anything goes. He had a blank expression….as if to say…what’s the big deal. He had no clue what the big deal was. So he finally uttered the word “sorry” but you could tell that he didn’t know what he was sorry for. Then he said…well at least he wasn’t doing it with “real” women…as if the BBWs didn’t have feelings. It was the most revealing moment in my whole relationship.

I know that I am never going back to him…that I can’t even if I want to. I know that even though he has a new girlfriend that just yesterday he was on the BBW site with a fake name, etc…so I know he can’t stop and his relationship won’t last. But it still bothers me like nothing else.

Experts on the page please help…I thought sociopaths know right from wrong but just don’t care about the moral reasoning behind their actions? Is this correct?

My ex knew the things he did were bad but just didn’t care about how they made others feel. How do you explain the difference in behavior between my expereience with sociopaths and lets say Mickey’s sociopath who ‘didn’t see the big deal in his actions’.

From my reading and experience, sure the sociopath knows right from wrong. Didn’t they impose morality on you? On everyone else? They are the ultimate hypocrites. They will not and can not take responsibility for their own actions. If they’re not responsible, then they didn’t do it. Or anything wrong. Their own mind plays tricks on themselves. They construct and re-construct and believe their own lies. They’re also incredibly impulsive, and live in the moment. They don’t think “if I do A, then B will happen”.. nope. They just want, want, want, and get. No matter what. And they want it now.
They are emotional infants, but learn to cope in an adult world by lying, crafting, stealing, all the while feeling nothing but an immediate self-gratification. That’s it in a nutshell. Nothing they do will make sense to any of us.

It’s been nearly three years for me since I left him, and I still grapple with it. I know his tactics, his MO, now, that’s all. It doesn’t change a thing. I just don’t fall for it any more. Actually, it’s rather embarrassing how easily I see through it now, but didn’t for nearly 5 years. Denial is a powerful coping mechanism. At least for me. Sometimes I still find myself in denial of what he is, how could I, etc. etc. And trust another? Don’t think so. The experience went too far. Too deep. All I can be grateful for is to be able to cope and function in order to raise our child alone. Anything else just doesn’t seem possible. Being financially ruined I’m sure is the cause. If you’re too poor to put food on your table, gas in your car, how on earth can you enjoy life on a consistent basis? It’s been a struggle, no doubt, and I hope someday I can reap the rewards of it. In my child. That he’ll have a better, safer life, free from the insanity. It’s not about me any longer. My joy is through him. Not healthy, but there isn’t much else, not for me.
Sometimes I think the only way I can ever heal is if HE makes up for what he’s done. And we know that’s not going to happen. But, yeah, I picked him. My bad. I trusted. Loved. All those good, wonderful things, gifts in life. I gave all that I had to give. There’s nothing left. Not for anyone else. Ever.
Sorry, but that’s just a fact.

Its funny because although Sociopaths create lies they are completely aware of what they are doing. My Ex told me that sometimes you truely have to belive in the lie and what you are lying out in order for it to come out more believable. He sat here and told me how he knows he has charm and can make people feel sorry for him. He knew how to get the best of people. He said he had being doing it for a while (hurting countless others and disapointing people) but that he wanted to change. he said he did not like being this way but that it was how he had been for so long. He sat on my couch and told me that he knew what he had done was wrong. He said that he knwe what a good girl I was, that he never apperciated me ect ect…He even went as far as to tell me that he apperciated the fact that I would honor him with my presence’ considering what he had done to me.

Thanks for the incite LINLAM…I think you are right. obviously soicopaths never think about consequence. But I have foind that sometimes they hold back what they want to do only in the long run to stab to person in the back. For example, they will (at times)try to show others that they are compromising to show that they care, yet will in the long run do whatever it is that they want to do in the big picture.

I wish I would have known earlier on that he was a sociopath. I gave him so much amo to manipulate me. All the love and loyalty I showed and he turned it against me. And I have his child so he will always be a part of my life….unless he lets go, which I hope for daily. Im afraid he will try to get me back and that I will fall for it. Not now but in years when I have forgotten what a fraud he is.

I am new here–but have been through it all with my x–the lies, cheating, $60,000 gone, he was on a business trip with 2 “women” and I had a heart attack while he was out of town. I called him from the hospital and he coldly told me I was ruining his trip! He forced me to have sex with his friends so he could watch and take pictures and now that I have gone after the car(in my name–35,000–loan–unpaid by him) He has blackmailed me telling me he will send th epics to my sons at college—I hate what he did–I can’t get over it–I have tried therapy, hypnotism and still to this day if he showed up on my doorstep…..I do not know what I would do. I showered me with affection on e minute and then the next he would call me paranoid, insecure, jealous, a bitch….etc. All because I wanted to spend time with him–when all he wanted was to go to bars, strip clubs, deal drugs etc. Then he would settle down and come back–telling me I was the love of his life and wanting to get married—I am too old for this and don’t think I will ever leave my house or recover!

We must remember the past so we do not repeat it. Accepting the ugly reality of the past, must be remembered, from a place of knowlege, truth, health and healing, just like we remember the Holocost, so that it, the Holocost never happens again. It is our obligation as survivors of a pathological to remember, to learn, teach, alert and warn others, in the hopes it will prevent another travesty.
Thank you all for sharing your stories, it is a clarion wake up call, an alert, a reminder, a comfort and a warning to all of us.

Just like Mickey, pieces of me were chipped away and my mind was being manipulated by my ex. He was a master at making me feel like I was someone special and it was my own ego that wanted this for myself. His cheating and money spending habits (of money I made) did cause me to have a nervous breakdown. I think it was the fact that he made me feel so important, I was really surprised when his ugliness revealed itself. It was such a shock because he seemed so perfect at the time. In the beginning, he made me feel sorry for him somehow, his wife left him and their son and took off to go drinking in the bars and run around with men. This turned out to be a lie and he did a good job exploiting her whenever he could. He was so convincing at times, it made me crazy. 2 yrs of counseling and a good lawyer sent him packing and now I am free 4 yrs now but he still uses my 20 yr old son (his stepson) as a tool to get to me. In fact, he and my other sociopathic ex have paired up together to try to get even….how’s that one for a laugh?

M. L. Gallagher, I always like what you have to say. You are so encouraging and that is what we need more of. I can also relate to everyone who has responded especially Mickey. I don’t know why some of us are more prone to fall victim to this type of personality but I imagine it is a combination of a lot of things. For all the different reasons that bring us to these relationships the outcomes seem all to familiar. We put up with la lot of lying, conning, humiliation, and more. We seem to have a very high threshold for bullshit and we need to learn not to. It is amazing the things I put up with for a little bit of love, affection, attention, etc. But you know what, I can get that from someone else. Someone who is emotionally healthy. And even if I don’t, I can give it to people who will really appreciate it and not turn it against me. I think that is one of he cruelest tricks of a sociopath. You can give them all the love you have, every drop of blood you have and they will throw it in your face and accuse you of this and that. You know what I’m talking about. When I met my abuser, he led me to believe he had cancer and he was an excellent actor. I think he was better than some of he actors we see on TV. He really had me fooled. He had everyone fooled, even his family. But even after I found out he lied about it, I still wanted him back. Things didn’t get better, he kept his lies going, just different ones. I tried to break up with him 100 times and 100 times I would take him back or call him back. I went to psychiatrists, therapists, groups, read books, all of that didn’t work. It’s like trying to quit a bad habit. I tried to quit smoking once. I would throw my cigarettes away only to wake up the next morning and dig them out of the dumpster. It was the same way with him. I knew he was bad for me but I was addicted. My daughter has a dog that eats it’s own poop sometimes and I think that that is what I did when I would go back to him. I’m not trying to be mean to myself but really sometimes I don’t understand my own behavior of why I would go back to someone who clearly does not care, uses and abuses me… I got rid of my phone and filtered him out of my email. Drastic times call for drastic measures. When I think I miss him, I know that my brain is playing tricks on me and I have to remember all the bullshit and ask myself is that what I want to eat for the rest of my life. I think not. I just need to keep reminding myself of this and the fact that I am better off emotionally, physically, financially and every other way Without him. He is a huge liability not an asset to me.

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