You’re not alone. I struggled with the answer to this question too. Contrary to what some may think, I didn’t leave the relationship and then immediately believe he was a sociopath and start writing about it.
The reality is I thought I was the one with the problem; I believed I was the cause of the wedge driven between us which resulted in the relationship’s ultimate deterioration.
Even after months of counseling and study and learning that my normal mental state was simply put off balance by some outside influence, I continued to struggle with the idea that he was that outside force.
When the thought crossed my mind that he was the major problem, I feared I was being over-reactive and thinking upon events and experiences out of proportion.
It wasn’t until I received validation through his “friends” and a few of his exes that I accepted what my gut had been trying to convince me of all along:
My ex was a dark and twisted sociopath!
I now understand that I really didn’t need the validation; I should have listened to my gut all along.
And this is why:
We learn something about ourselves and about humanity in general with every relationship we enter.
We learn to become better communicators. We learn to love with our whole hearts. We learn to be more patient. We learn that everyone comes from different places than us, geographically and mindfully. We learn to respect each other’s differences. We become more and more aware that with the beginning and ending of each relationship, this world is filled with so many different and wonderful people.
We are able to do this by using our keen ability to empathize and consider the other person’s feelings and understandings of the world. By using our empathy and compassion, we guide each other to the next level of connection, to the next level of a relationship beyond the lust and sex.
But sometimes, for a number of reasons, our romantic relationships don’t work. Our mutual dreams for the future change; they aren’t so mutual any more. We grow apart.
When this happens, we must say good-bye, but the love and connection never fades. This person entered our life and affected us, so we keep that person and the memories of that person tucked away in a private place in our heart. Life goes on. We meet and fall in love with someone new, and the cycle continues.
(And the people who came before the new love remain close to us in our hearts. Those genuine feelings of connection to another person never go away.)
But when we enter into a relationship with a narcissist/sociopath/psychopath, the normal dimensions and expectations of relationship evolution explode!
We learn quickly that this person has either never been in a healthy relationship or doesn’t understand how healthy relationships are supposed to work. From being love bombed and put on a pedestal one day to being thrown under the bus the next.
THAT IS NOT NORMAL!
Healthy people with a healthy conscience and the ability to empathize DO NOT hurt the ones they love that way. They don’t demean and threaten loved ones. EVER!
Even if you aren’t able to label a person, your ex-spouse or ex-partner, as a sociopath or narcissist or you have trouble believing they might be pathological, ask yourself the following:
- “Did the relationship leave me questioning my faith and beliefs in myself and humanity?”
- “Did I, at any time, start believing that I somehow deserved to be abused, treated disrespectfully and then discarded?”
- “Do I or did I absolutely hate and despise this person for what he did to me? Was this hatred all-consuming unlike any hate or dislike I have ever felt for anyone before this person?”
If you answer “yes” to these basic questions, you were in a toxic relationship with a toxic person who was making you think toxic thoughts, and there really is no hope for the relationship to move forward because it was never built on love, trust or any mutual understanding of what life and relationships are meant to be.
Because the other half of the relationship was pathological, a.k.a. TOXIC!
You know in your heart that you deserve better. Tend to your needs and embrace those in your life who have shown you real love and support and ask for nothing, absolutely NOTHING, in return.
(image source: http://pinterest.com/pin/496521927638093506/)