20130426-110343.jpgBefore the sociopath, I always feared criticism. I tried so desperately to be perfect and not to offend people intentionally or otherwise.

(Of course, there were people who got under my skin that I didn’t like. I rarely held back letting those people know I disliked them.)

But I always worried about what my close family and friends and co-workers thought of me. I wanted to be seen as a good person in their eyes. I didn’t want to offend my loved ones. I wanted them to be proud of me.

When any of them criticised me, I would get easily hurt. When I got easily hurt, I would do one of two things: 1) become ashamed and run away or 2) get mad and runaway. Sometimes I became ashamed and mad.

I was not good at accepting healthy criticism from people who loved me. I hated the fact I would get upset with them for pointing out one of my personal failings.

I was never really angry with them, though. I was more angry with myself for having done something against them that would make them ashamed of me.

In walks the sociopath. Within a few months of the relationship starting, everything I did was shameful to him.

From past relationships and old friends I still valued to how I disciplined my son or neglected to discipline my son — these were all areas in which I was shamed by the sociopath.

Needless to say, I felt ashamed of myself the majority of my relationship with him. I felt like I was worthless and that I honestly needed to change everything about myself in order to be worthy of anyone’s love and attention, especially the sociopath’s.

Once I was finally out of the relationship and able to focus on my behavior outside of the sociopath, I recognized more clearly that, yes, I had some work to do, but not nearly as much work as the sociopath had me brainwashed into thinking.

The work I had to do involved letting go of being and trying to be so damn perfect for everyone else. Once I let go of that (which took me over 18 months from the time I left the sociopath), I could relax and not worry so much about what others thought of me.

And you know what? I have discovered that when I am not worried about screwing up, I don’t screw up as much!

When we go from one extreme to the next, we are able to add perspective to our lives and live more gently and carefully.

The sociopath was an EXTREME shamer and blamer. Absolutely nothing I did was or could ever be good enough. There was always shame and blame connected to my actions. EVERY action.

It didn’t matter if I drank too much or quit drinking all together, I would be shamed.

  • If I drank, I was a poor excuse for a mother and not a good girlfriend.
  • If I didn’t drink, I better think about why I was such a bad mother and poor girlfriend now that I was sober.
  • If I exercised, I was doing it for someone else other than the sociopath.
  • If I didn’t exercise, I was taking time away from my relationship with the sociopath.
  • If I called my mother, I was a whining baby who couldn’t handle my own problems without mommy’s help.
  • If I didn’t call my mother, I was avoiding my responsibilities.

(Where the fuck does a person go when stuck in this mess!?!)

The only place to go is outside of it. Otherwise, you remain stuck, miserable and always wondering why you are such a failure.

You are not a failure! You might not be perfect, but who is?

We each make bad choices and don’t always say the right thing in every situation. Sometimes we hurt people’s feelings without realizing it.

All we can do when these things happen is apologize and recognize that a mistake was made, fix it but move on.

If we allow ourselves to marinate in shame and blame, we never grow from the act or circumstance that caused the shame and blame.

And the only thing worse than self-blame and self-shame, is being subjected to the shame and blame of a pathological person like the sociopath.

You are human. Embrace your humanity. Be gentle with yourself even when you screw up, and good people will be gentle with you, too.


Related articles – Letting Go of Perfect. ~Paula Carrasquillo for Elephant Journal

abuse, Child abuse, Cluster B disorders, domestic violence, Elephant Journal, Emotional Abuse, Family, Forgiveness, Friends, Health, Lessons, Love, Mental Health, mindfulness, Narcissist, Narcissistic Personality Disorder, NPD, Peace, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Psychopaths, PTSD, Recovery, Relationships, Self Improvement, Sociopaths, Spirituality
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Join the conversation! 12 Comments

  1. Paula I want to thank you. I came across your site by accident and am working my way through your postings, which so far mirror my own experience. I got rid of the millstone around my neck after our two children begged me to throw him out. I had wanted to toss his arse after my son was born, but didn’t want my children to be without a father. Stupid me, the cretin cost me over 100K – money I could have used to put my kids through Uni. After the first two years, he never worked. I worked full time while taking care of my kids, paying the bills, taking care of the house and grounds because he was too busy drinking with his buddies in my garage – the one attached to the home that I had paid for before he came into my life. The only thing I will thank him for is his sperm contribution – my kids are healthy. He robbed me of my self confidence (which is my fault because I believed his BS). My kids gave that back to me. They were all of 5 and 7 when they came to me and told me to pack his bags and just tell him to leave – snapped me back to sanity immediately. My kids are now adults and they do see their dad, but he constantly tries to guilt them as well. Fortunately they are smarter than their mother and won’t put up with the crap, perhaps because I taught them well. Unfortunately after him I could never trust another – in toto I don’t regret that decision but there have been times in the last 20 years when I have missed having a companion.
    Anyway enough about me – funny I rarely speak about my situation because it’s so embarrassing, but something in your posts have brought it all back. Maybe now I’ll start to deal with my deep seated and repressed resentment. Nah, probably not, but thank you anyway.


    • addendum – the cretin still tries to connect with me despite all the mental, emotional and financial abuse he put me through. He needs a place to stay and someone to look after him after some serious health issues he’s gone through. After 20 years he still tries because he couldn’t find someone else during that time that made as much as I had. Cretin doesn’t have a chance – I never return his messages.


    • Good! Let him take care of himself. It’s not your fault he has no friends or others to help him.


    • Lucky you for having such insightful and intelligent children! And I think what you are experiencing moving through these posts is normal, especially if you have never talked about it or shared what happened to you. We are only as weak or as sick as the secrets and fears we wish to bury and escape. Being resentful is normal and a cue that we should avoid what it was that caused the bitterness. I like the bitterness sometimes. Makes me realize I learned my lesson and won’t repeat it. 🙂


  2. Be true to your BEING… if anyone holds you back, in any way, that is a red-flag. We all make mistakes, but, they should never be held against you…if they are…get out!
    Circumstances can and will hold you back, children, $$, illnesses, etc,…but…when you can, get out…and be yourself in your own BEING


  3. I can totally relate to this post. Every day I wake up and say to myself, “I am enough.”


  4. Hey Paula. Great post. Sometimes I think we are our own worst enemy. Hugs Paula. Xxx


  5. You totally made me cry this morning, I always felt I had to “masquerade” when I was married (to keep up with the charade of “happiness”, obviouly I was a better actress than I thought because when the dicorce came, not one person understood what I was going through, (not even some therapists) even now in the “never ending” custody battle which is just as pety and pointless. You described it perfectly my feelings, his words and actions. Thank you, thank you!


    • You’re welcome. Don’t listen to the horrible criticisms that flow from his mouth. You are more than your mistakes, even the mistake of marrying him. Your children need you to love and embrace yourself, especially through this battle. XOXO


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