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I always loved this metaphor, and it’s proving true this March with snow, sleet, angry winds and freezing temperatures sweeping across most of the United States.

The metaphor also fits our transformation in the recovery process, specifically as it applies to rediscovering our identities.

We begin our journey as stubborn, prideful and roaring lions. We’re angry and frustrated and determined to get back to who we were before the sociopath entered our lives.

We miss that person we were before. We want that person back. We’re pissed. We repeatedly scratch and claw to find that person.

In our angry and prideful lion state, we fail to see that the person we were before…that person is gone.

Because we are the stream and the stream is forever flowing. With or without the sociopath, we would have continued to change.

But the sociopath was an uncontrollable storm and our banks washed away in the flood.

To rebuild after the flood, the lion is of little use. Roaring isn’t action, and we recognize the need to take action.

Enter the gentle lamb that tenderly and compassionately envelopes us in its warm and cozy coat.

It’s in the safety and protection of this coat that we begin assessing the damage to our banks.

At first, we think, “Oh, shit. There is no way I will ever be able to repair this damage.”

This self-defeating thinking stalls our progress. We aren’t interested in finding any sandbags and rebuilding our foundation. We’d rather wallow in self-pity and weakness.

So we do. And we continue wallowing. We continue getting weaker, despite that warm coat that blankets us.

Soon, the continual self-pity tarnishes our coat, and we become disgusted with ourselves, and we say to ourselves, “This is NOT where I want to be. I do not want to be this pathetic.”

But then we find we’re stuck again!! We have no idea where to begin; on which bank should we start?

After stalling a bit longer, we finally just pick a bank and begin the repeated and arduous chore of carrying and dropping sandbags, carrying and dropping sandbags, carrying and dropping sandbags.

It seems like forever, but we finally begin to see progress. The rain comes on occasion, but it’s more of a drizzle and less of a storm.

Our banks are tested, and our sandbags hold.

We’re overjoyed, and our confidence and determination builds. We pick up another sandbag and drop it and another and another.

Soon, the damage to our banks is much less noticeable to ourselves and others who happen to be walking by.

“Lookin’ good over there! Do you mind if I have a closer look?”

And we begin to welcome people to our banks again. We trust the work we’ve done will hold up…and it does!… and our confidence slowly returns.

We start catching glimpses of ourself. We barely recognize what we’re seeing. But surprisingly, we’re not repulsed. We’re relieved. It’s like our best bits have been enhanced and our worst bits are barely visible.

Our confidence, love and compassion continue to grow, and we lap up the clear waters of our stream like thirsty and growing lambs should.

We’ve been reborn. The universe awaits!

Namaste!
~Paula

(Image source: http://pinterest.com/pin/297308012871018357/)

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

  1. “It’s like our best bits have been enhanced and our worst bits are barely visible.”
    So true, I don’t remember exactly when it happened, but I realized I liked me a whole lot more than I ever had and what others thought of me matter a whole lot less.
    Good post Paula!

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  2. Beautifully put 😀

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  3. Hi Paula, always love reading your blog. I have a question, if that’s allowed – do you think that it’s normal losing yourself in someone else in a relationship? I mean, we know what its like when you’re involved with a sociopath – it’s a given, in a very bad way.

    The thing is that in my experience we do tend to “lose ourselves” in some way, in any relationship. Does that mean that we are responsible for what we allow to change or just that it’s okay with someone healthy? Sorry if I’m causing confusion about the topic, but I am really wrestling with this and a bit panicky. It’s scary entering into something new, when you can remember how you had to pick up all the pieces and start over, all the what if’s start popping up.

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    • Almsong,

      Losing ourselves is NEVER a positive thing, regardless of the relationship or circumstances.

      But the good news is that we now know the signs to look for within ourselves to prevent us from losing ourselves again in relationships, especially romantic relationships.

      Do you remember that first time in the relationship with the sociopath when you had that internal tug-o-war with deciding whether or not to comply with the sociopath or stay true to your core values? That first instance of cognitive dissonance you felt?

      Remember that you complied despite the fact you knew in your gut you were betraying yourself and all you believed in your heart? You slowly watched a part of you wash away thinking that’s what you do when you love someone…you sacrifice yourself.

      Today, you know sacrificing yourself is NOT love, it’s self-betrayal and that listening to your gut and saying “no” could have saved you much heartache. (It still, most certainly, would have been painful to walk away from the sociopath, but leaving sooner rather than later would have been more self-respecting and gracious. We see that now.)

      We didn’t grow with the sociopath; we died…we suffered a loss of self. That’s not love. That’s not an empowering relationship.

      I’m not a devout Christian and won’t preach to you, but I find much comfort in some of the writings and teachings in the bible. My favorite to reread when I begin to doubt my ability to trust and love is 1 Corinthians 13:4-8…

      4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
      5 It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
      6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
      7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.

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    • thank you so, much Paula. I remember. I hear you. I appreciate the Word.

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    • Almsong
      It is normal to give of yourself in a normal relationship; just not all of yourself and do all the giving. If you recall the sociopath/narcissist asked/demanded you keep giving, compromising, changing and it was never good enough. True love doesn’t demand you change, or compromise your values, give up your friends, or dedicate your every waking moment to them.
      Yes there is compromise in normal relationships, on both sides; when two people love each other they want the other person to have their own interests, they appreciate their differences, they know that they compliment each other. They may argue but they discuss things, it isn’t always your fault and if they screw up they don’t blame you, “If only you hadn’t done this I wouldn’t have done that”
      It isn’t love when someone keeps hurting you ever after you have said, “when you do that it really hurts me”.
      And Paula was right, if I would have listened to my gut I would have walked away within the first year. I stayed 9 1/2 years too long in a 10 year relationship.
      Your gut never lies.
      How long have you been split? It might be too soon to be dating.
      hugs
      Carrie

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    • Thanks Carrie it’s been a bit more than 3 years now 🙂 You and Paula have really brought some clarity, difficult to judge things from the inside sometimes!

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  4. I understand point by point, word by word exactly what you are saying. I just want to be me again and free of the baggage.

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    • Fellow Survivor, You will never be the person you were, you can’t go through what you did and come out the same on the other side. That doesn’t have to be a bad thing, if fact there would be something wrong with you if you could just walk away and be your old self.
      So many times people think they should be able to “just get over it”, and you are doing yourself a huge disservice. Healing is painful, why make it harder on yourself by expecting yourself to not have changed?
      The new you doesn’t have to be a terminal victim, but you have slept with the devil, that changes a person and can be very enlightening.

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  5. Reblogged this on Madeline Scribes and commented:
    A better way to think about healing, recovery and getting on with our lives.

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  6. I love this!!! I must reblog 🙂 Thank you Paula for always having your finger on our pulse and for knowing when to hug us.

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