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I receive letters and private emails from many readers. You share many of your feelings, stories, and fears with me. For that, I am grateful and feel blessed to have your trust.

A recurring question from many readers is:

“How do I get my abuser out of my head in order to forget and move on?”

Unfortunately, there is no easy answer. There is no definitive solution. We lived through something with someone. We can’t erase it. But I do believe there is a first step we all must take in order to recover from it:

We must accept what happened to us and realize we cannot change it or change the person who hurt us.

As a person who was able to wake up and escape my abuser before it was too late, the hurt I felt was not of having my heart-broken. Not even close. The hurt I felt in the beginning of my healing was in having trusted someone I expected would treat me with love, kindness, patience, and forgiveness. Those are basic and simple building blocks of all healthy relationships and the exact traits narcissistic sociopaths like the boy in my story lack.

My husband has those traits. My son has those traits. My mother, father, and stepfather have those traits. My sisters and brothers have those traits. My life-long friends have those traits. Therefore, my expectations that the boy would have those traits was not unrealistic. I had been conditioned to expect them from everyone, including the boy. And when they failed to flow from him, I wanted to help him grow those traits. How futile and naive! I know that and accept it now.

Acting on my co-dependent tendencies is a thing of the past. It serves no one, especially me. Why would any of us choose to try to fix another when we need to fix ourselves first? Once you accept your abuser for what he/she is, you can finally accept yourself, warts and all!

The beauty of accepting ourselves is the realization that we have complete control and power over changing those things we don’t like about ourselves and our behavior. Most importantly, we are allowed to expect better from ourselves and also expect results from our efforts to change.

I started by writing down all of the things I liked about myself. Then I jotted down all of my failings. I wanted to maintain the good in me but transform my bad habits and behaviors. I couldn’t erase my past failings and personal disappointments and setbacks related to my actions. However, I knew I could begin again. But beginning again required a thorough inventory of EVERYTHING!!

I spent many hours and weeks going back in my past and dissecting the years. I discovered too much I had tried sweeping under the rug. I had many “ah-ha” moments, and my confidence in my ability to relearn how to be myself again slowly started returning. With this confidence, I was energized to do something with my skills and talents I had suppressed for so long. (I, just me myself and I, suppressed them. It was no one’s fault but my own.)

In less than six (6) months from the time I decided to take control of my life, my writing took off. My book was published. I landed my column in The Washington Times Communities. My Facebook pages grew. I was approached by the founder and creator of My Emotional Vampire to help with their ever-increasing following. I read more and more blogs by other survivors. I lent my support to them as best I could. One Mom’s Battle asked me to contribute to the back cover of her book. I participated in fund raisers and walks.

My body and soul were being energized more and more every day thanks to my own efforts (and lots of support from my son and husband). I got myself into the mess I was in, and I was able to get myself out of it. That’s all we can do for ourselves in the end, really. Don’t you think?

Today I celebrated another birthday. My husband and son bought me a beautiful cake and two yoga calendars: one for my office and one for wherever else I need reminded of the passing of time. They also got me a dimmer switch for the light above the dining room table. (Mood lighting is VERY important!) Before leaving for work this morning, I wrote in my new journal (Thank you, Janine!) and wished for a peaceful day.

I want to end this post with a Cherokee tale I read many months ago and again last night in the last pages of the memoire Look Me in the Eye: Caryl’s Story by Caryl Wyatt and Anita le Roix:

An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life.

“A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.

“It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.” He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”

The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

Namaste!

Category:
abuse, Books, Cluster B disorders, domestic violence, Emotional Abuse, Family, Forgiveness, Friends, Health, Journaling, Lessons, Letter, Love, Mental Health, Narcissist, Narcissistic Personality Disorder, NPD, Peace, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Psychopaths, PTSD, Relationships, Self Improvement, Sociopaths, Spirituality, The Washington Times, Work, Writing, Yoga
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Join the conversation! 19 Comments

  1. I so needed to read this today. I’ve had a really rough week and have been wondering how to get my soon to be ex out of my head. Even though I’m in the beginning stages and question everyday if I’m doing the right thing.

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  2. Happy belated birthday, Paula! You and my mom have the same birthday 😀 Very very important for people to read this, by the way. I’ve read that same Cherokee tale before, and it was just as powerful today as it was the first time I read it. Though now, it has taken on a new meaning for me. Without the experiences we have had with psychopaths, we wouldn’t be able…ever…to actually see the areas within us that need work. For that, i am grateful for the experience, though not to the monster. My eyes were opened WIDE as a result.

    Great post!

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    • I love when I discover that I share a birthday with people. Number 3 discovering in the last few days. I am grateful for the same reasons you are. And your posts lately have been extremely helpful, especially the ones related to brainwashing. Wow! Your knowledge and ability to put things together truly saved you in the end. Amazing! 🙂

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  3. Happy belated birthday, Paula! So true about feeding the wolf! Hugs from Oz….Paula x

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  4. A very Happy Birthday 🙂

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  5. Oh my gosh!! This was so wonderfully powerful! So glad you shared. I especially like the part about people being conditioned to expect good things in relationships. At times, our hearts are in the right place, we just don’t read the signs soon enough that the other person in the relationship is incapable of being healthy.

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  6. Namaste’ Dear Paula & HAPPY BIRTHDAY!
    I love the Cherokee story! 🙂

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  7. Again, wonderful! Happy Birthday and to more new beginnings!
    see what happens when we break those bonds! same thing happened to me! What ever your dream, passion, desire is, if you are NOT getting it or encouragement with ‘the’ companion you have then it’s time to move on for you will never get it!
    Om Shanti!

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  8. You’re so inspiring, Paula. Happy, happy birthday! ~Kali

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  9. Happy Birthday Paula, I love that story. I read this the other on the ability to love, it explains about trauma bonding, quite eye opening for me.

    http://theabilitytolove.wordpress.com/2013/01/27/the-addictive-trauma-bond-learning-what-it-is-and-how-to-help-yourself-heal/

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  10. A very good story. Wolves are wise animals. They know their friends and their enemies. I like the wisdom at the end of the tale.

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