Remember that Tootsie Roll Pop commercial from decades ago? Well, I can’t help but think about it when I think about the sociopath, the boy in my story. He behaved like a big, fat toddler holding a lollipop, slowly licking away at me and my identity.
And I allowed the sociopath to consume me, penetrate and control my emotions. He judged my emotions daily by shaming, blaming and praising me. And I cared what he thought. Why? Because I thought he really loved me, and don’t we all care what our loved ones think of us?
But now I know nothing the sociopath did or said came from a place of love. His actions came from a place of fear, and his fears were inflicted upon me. I absorbed those fears and took them on. Doing this thrust me into a very dark place. A dark place that slowly and insidiously destroyed my sense of self.
After escaping the sociopath, I was hit hard by a need to go inward and explore what it was inside of me that allowed such evil to penetrate me and use me as its host.
I discovered I wasn’t as confident and as strong as I thought I was. I didn’t have the necessary self-love and self-respect I needed to fight off and deflect sociopaths and sociopathic behavior by others.
So I set out to change that.
I wrote on my blog. I met others with similar experiences. I didn’t feel alone.
I talked to friends and family about how I was feeling. Not everyone understood but enough “got it” and encouraged me to keep talking.
I read books and blogs. Some didn’t fit with how I was feeling. Others did. I took what was valuable and relevant to my situation and left the rest behind.
I continued meeting with my counselor even when I felt like I didn’t need to talk to him anymore. He kept encouraging me while asking the hard questions.
I practiced yoga as often as I could. If I couldn’t find the time to get on the mat, I thought about what I learned on the mat and how I could bring that patience, determination and non-judgment into my daily life, work and play.
I faced my deepest and darkest sides. I turned my entire identity upside down and inside out.
And the work remains; it’s never-ending. But that’s just because life is never-ending (until, of course, it ends). I’m comfortable being an idealist who is forced to push the reality button on occasion.
Thankfully, I now have a solid foundation of self-love and self-worth. I no longer define myself by what I’ve done or what I have left undone. I am always changing and growing, the way we’re supposed to do in life. I’m in an environment and surrounded by friends and loved ones who give me that freedom to grow and reach my potential.
Today, I remain committed to starting, completing and maintaining the hard work I’ve done and continue to do deconstructing and rebuilding what nearly destroyed me due to all of my past toxic relationships and their effects.
I may not be 100% impenetrable. I have no doubt I will be faced with many shitty people in my future. Fortunately, I have more faith and trust in my gut, and I am pretty confident that it would take an infinite number of licks to get to the center of this tootsie roll pop again!
© 2013 Paula Carrasquillo and Paula’s Pontifications.