“…in like a lion and out like a lamb.”

20140305-073111.jpg

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/)

Are you ready to be transformed? What to expect of yourself as you heal from sociopathic abuse

changeQuestion left on my blog by a reader:

“I have a question for this community. So now that I’ve identified the narcissistic sociopath in my life (husband) and have even identified the relationship in my life that started this cycle of my choosing (mother), how do I identify myself in this scenario? What kind of person am I that has “lived” in this relationship for so long (30), what is my behaviors and how do I change them and discontinue making the same selection? How do I change this dependency to this kind of behavior that I have allowed to develop? I am taking full responsibility for the rest of my life.”

My response follows, but I would really like anyone out there who has some approaches to healing and words of wisdom to please share. Namaste!


Paula’s response:

You’re three steps ahead of most: 1) you’ve identified that you were in an abusive relationship; 2) you identified the perpetrator for what he is; and 3) you recognize you are accountable and must look within to change and transform your conditioned/habitual dependent thinking.

If you haven’t already done so, find a trusted counselor to help guide you through your self-discovery journey. This person, ideally, understands trauma as it relates to symptoms of women coming from domestic violence situations and who understands that “violence” means any type of control wielded over another in the form of physical, financial, emotional and/or spiritual abuse. You don’t want a counselor who will minimize your emotions because that will make your inner journey a journey of self-blame rather than self-discovery and acceptance. You blame yourself enough already, I suspect.

While in counseling, start doing something, anything, you have always been interested in doing. Learn to cook, bake, sew or kayak. Learning a new skill ignites our cognitive thinking side of our brain and allows us to get out of the emotional side long enough to start appreciating ourselves again. Set mini goals for yourself. Understand your triggers and ask your counselor how you can work through them to minimize the negative effects of those triggers. Some may be harder to work through than others but understanding the source empowers us to control them rather than having them control us.

Join a gym or dust off those workout DVDs you collected over the years. Or simply start walking. Anything to activate your endorphins, which will naturally make you feel good about yourself. Feeling your heart beating and reminding you that you are alive and that you matter. Physical activity isn’t just for losing weight and looking good on the outside. It provides invigorating benefits to our internal systems as well.

Think about stuff you consume that makes you feel miserable about yourself. Salty foods, too much caffeine, alcohol, sodas…you get the idea. Pay attention to the things you put inside your body and how they make you feel. Try eliminating those things that make you feel crappy and increase the consumption of those things that make you feel good. Keep a food journal.

Surround yourself with people who love you and believe in you and who won’t coddle you but who will call you out (in a gentle, caring and non-shaming way) and help you when you need help. You don’t want anyone’s pity but you deserve to be understood and for your feelings to be shared without judgment.

Most of all, be patient, hopeful and positive. Allow yourself to have setbacks. They happen. Don’t be rigid in your recovery journey. You may think something will work for you, later to discover it just doesn’t have the same helpful benefits the same activity had for someone else.

You’re not going to recognize yourself. It’s a frightening thing. Other people aren’t going to recognize you either. Some may even ask where the old you went, especially those who have leaned on you for support over the years while you ignored your own needs. Don’t feel guilty about that. Let them know you still care, empathize and have compassion for them but you are your first priority and your happiness is most important, because if you’re happy and satisfied with yourself and love yourself, there’s more love to share with others…real love, not the co-dependent care you felt obligated to give to everyone who reached out to you and left you drained and wondering when someone was going to help you.

Well, the time has come for you to help yourself. After all, you were always so good at helping others, right? You’re going to be a great personal coach for yourself.

I hope some of this was helpful.

~Paula

(image source: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/305118943475896739/)

Finding Healing and Support in the Aftermath of Sociopathic Abuse

upliftThe following is an unedited, first draft of the introduction to my second book I’ve tentatively titled “The Exorcism of the Sociopath.”


I firmly believe that no one can heal and recover from sociopathic/pathological abuse alone. I also believe that not all support is good support.

Although I have written about the power of online support in my Washington Times Communities column and have often encouraged readers and those who comment to consider some form of online support, there is a definite line of defense we all need to consider before opening up ourselves to any person or support group outside of licensed, certified and experienced mental health care professionals and care givers.

When I began my blog and book journey in February 2012, I was very naive and oblivious as to what I would encounter. I had no idea whether or not my blog and story would be believed, accepted or laughed off the internet. I was desperate and at a standstill in my healing and recovery and really didn’t care about the consequences. Before rapidly moving forward with my blog writing, I was frozen in disbelief at the lack of progress I was making.

Why was I so frozen?

One of my biggest roadblocks to healing was my continual denial that I was suffering from anything I couldn’t fix myself. The least of which was trauma.

“Me? Traumatized? No way!!”

Why did I do this? Partly because I wanted to hold onto the idea that I was strong, but mostly because I didn’t want to feel like the sociopath had won. I wasn’t going to allow him to defeat me, and in my naiveté, I thought that pushing the pain deeper into the recesses of my mind meant I won.

I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Not facing the pain caused confusion and my body and mind to fester in a mixture of ugliness, grief and more pain. I made mistake after mistake in my personal life. I hurt myself with each emotion I denied myself.

On top of suppressing my pain and suffering, I arrogantly thought I could fix myself. After all, who knew me better than me? I was so blinded by the idea that I just needed to “get over” the abuse that I neglected to realize that I needed to walk through the trauma in order to find peace on the other side of it.

Luckily, I gradually became unfrozen, and  by mid-April 2012 due to reader comments and responses to my story, I was thawing out, discovering my wings and true power. It was amazing.

The comments that struck home most and had the deepest impact were those that suggested that my writing was therapy for a trauma I needed to release.

That word “trauma” kept popping up on the screen and wouldn’t stop creeping into my mind. And no matter how much I fought to eliminate it from my reality, I couldn’t fight the truth so many were trying to get me to see.

“You suffered something, Paula! Stop being so stubborn. Accept it!”

But even after repeatedly hearing this and finally accepting it, I still thought I could fix myself. I thought if my writing helped me reach this breakthrough moment, it could help me completely heal myself without burdening my family and friends further with my goddamn issues!

But none of us are an island. None of us are super heroes. (Although, I’d like to think I wear a cape some days, it’s just not healthy to be so delusional, is it? Hehe!)

So again, a few months later in August 2012,  I found myself floundering and in need of something else that would propel me forward. I realized my writing had just been a temporary fix, a band-aid of sorts. I had written and published my book by this time but still felt incomplete in my healing.

What was next?

What was next was something I never dreamed could come next:

On the very day in August 2012 in which I was laid off from my job, I received a private message from a woman who ran a rapidly-growing Facebook page. She asked me to help co-administer her page. The page touted itself as a place victims/survivors of abuse at the hands of narcissistic and borderline personality disordered individuals could collectively learn and heal. She needed me, along with her other three administrators to “man” the page so there was always someone available to connect with members regardless of time of day or day of the week.

“How honorable,” I thought. This woman seems to really care. I wanted to be a part of that and maybe learn something from her that could help me on my journey.

But that didn’t prove to be the magic pill for healing, either. In fact, it nearly negated all of the progress I had made up to that point. If it hadn’t been for my blog and its supporters, my yoga practice and my monthly counseling sessions, that online support group experience could have destroyed me all over again.

Why? How can I be so certain of this?

For starters, the woman who ran the page and its private support group was in no place to give others any advice. Within a few short months of being “indoctrinated” into her team of administrators, I learned from observation that she was too sick herself to offer any real help to anyone who was trying to heal. Her life was an absolute mess, and she shared each and every detail of her daily struggles publicly on the page’s timeline.

On top of me believing she was too sick herself to offer sound advice, she lacked any professional mental health care credentials or accredited training. She didn’t even have a high school diploma nor had she made any attempt to earn her GED.

Although her lack of education didn’t set off immediate red flags for me, it should have. As a person who values both formal and informal education and who has spent as much time in the classroom as I have in an office cubicle, I should have put more thought into her credentials and been more discerning about the information she shared on her page.

She repeatedly touted herself as an expert on personality disorders and in healing and recovery. She gave, as I interpreted it to be, unsound advice to victims/survivors who blindly trusted herunconditionally. I can only assume that each and every one of them asked themselves the same questions I had repeatedly asked myself:

“If this woman didn’t really care, she wouldn’t be out here trying to help, right? She must know what she’s talking about. After all, she was abused, too.”

I, too, initially bought into her “strength of character” defense and believed she shared so others wouldn’t feel alone in their pain and suffering. But soon I realized that the reason she shared was much more benign than benevolent and in July 2013, when I had finally had enough and asked to be removed as an administrator, my support for her immediately ended along with all of the excuses I had created in my mind that aided in that support.

Not only was she not qualified to offer any advice, the advice she did offer was disseminated carelessly. She was able to mask her actual ignorance by plagiarizing the intelligence others. She sprinkled her “advice” with the words and research of credible professionals and sources, individuals she never bothered to cite or acknowledge.

As a writer and researcher, I couldn’t take anymore of her blatant disregard for the work of others. And as a victim/survivor, I was not interested in becoming the victim of another lying and manipulative con artist.

I became completely convinced that she used and continues using the weakened state of desperate victims to infiltrate their healing and recovery journey. She tells her tales of woe and faux abuse in hopes of gaining financially and feeding her narcissistic supply.

Although this realization did not surprise me after what I had experienced with the sociopath, it did hurt. Deeply. But as with any hindrance to my momentum and journey to finding peace, I was determined to push forward and make the most of what I had learned.

After informing my blog readers in early August 2013 that I no longer supported her pagea page I had previously promoted often and frequentlyI very quickly became aware that I was not alone in my suspicions and misgivings of this woman and her page. Many victims/survivors who had stumbled upon the page also felt as I felt. I miraculously found myself being supported and uplifted by a group of like-minded and highly intelligent and giving women with nothing to gain by supporting me.

We served to validate each other, and that’s all the push we needed to put the ugliness of being deceived by false support behind us.

In addition to this very public lesson, there are many more I have learned since January 2011 when I escaped the sociopath and struggled to put his deceptions far behind me.

In the pages and chapters of this book, I hope to accurately present each lesson learned and to uncover how no single group, counselor, yoga practice, one-on-one bond, exercise or self-help book/website will make any of us whole again. I believe the journey to peace and freedom is a combination of many of these things and much more.

You’re unique. Your story is your story. Your journey to healing and recovery is and will continue to be as unique and as colorful as you are.

My hope is that my journey along with the personal journeys of others shared in this book will serve as a model for what to consider and what not to consider. My hope is that you can learn from my successes/their successes and from my mistakes/their mistakes. My hope is to help you help yourself.

But my biggest hope is that you remain hopeful and believe that no matter the length of the journey, no matter the obstacles or bumps in the road, you’re worth giving yourself another chance at happiness, joy and ultimate peace.

Namaste!
~Paula

© 2013 Paula Carrasquillo and Paula’s Pontifications.

(image source: http://pinterest.com/pin/224687468882548535/)

The Sociopath Cocktail: Entitlement with a Splash of Delusion

gatsbyEntitlement is dangerous. Entitlement mixed with delusion is lethal. Sociopaths are lethal.

Entitlement is when a person believes he has the right to own or possess any “thing” or any “person” he desires. An entitled person believes his mere existence qualifies him as unique, special and somehow more deserving than others and above all laws and moral codes.

Sociopaths believe they are entitled.

Entitled sociopaths do not work or strive for what they have. They simply take it.

But the sociopath will argue that he does deserve what he has and what he takes. The sociopath will argue that he earned everything. He will argue that he worked long and hard to get what he has.

And the entitled sociopath is often very convincing in his arguments. Entitled sociopaths are good at justifying their con games. Entitled sociopaths believe that the art of arguing and conning people is synonymous with working hard.

How wrong could they be!?!?

Sociopaths are preposterous and delusional to believe they are somehow entitled to take everything they covet and desire. This kind of entitled thinking begets greater and greater delusions and results in the sociopath exerting greater and greater control over others in hopes of convincing others of the sociopath’s delusions.

The sociopath’s ultimate goal is to make you as delusional as he is. You must think as he thinks.

Why?

Well, for starters the sociopath can’t stand being surrounded by people who have independent thoughts. The sociopath is threatened by the creativity and ingenuity of others. If it doesn’t serve to propel the sociopath in status or reverence, the creativity and ingenuity of others is without purpose to the sociopath. He must be surrounded by people who think just as he thinks to feel complete and whole and powerful.

Once you become zombie-like and convinced of the sociopath’s delusions, the sociopath becomes that by which you measure all others. And once you start measuring all others against the sociopath’s delusions, a funny and ironic thing happens to your brain:

You become rewired to think that non-delusional people, people you once admired and respected, are the delusional ones and that the sociopath is completely sane and reasonable. You become convinced that the sociopath’s entitlement is justified and all others are simply too jealous or too stupid to understand.

“No wonder those people don’t like the sociopath! They’re just super jealous of the sociopath! Makes total sense now!”

Sociopaths are often successful in exerting their will onto us and making us zombie-like through influence and control. The greatest tool the sociopath has in his bag of tricks is his ability to invalidate us. The sociopath invalidates us with subtle language, suggestions and passive-aggressive behaviors:

  • You’re just not thinking clearly right now. Soon you will see things the way I see things.
  • Have you given enough thought to that idea you have? It seems you haven’t thought this through.
  • You’ve clearly been damaged by someone in the past. No wonder you don’t trust me. No wonder you lash out at me.
  • How could you be doing this again? Don’t you ever learn?

As soon as someone, anyone, begins using this type of language with you, be cautious about continuing the relationship. Better yet, don’t respond and stop engaging.

Unfortunately, it’s never that simple, is it? Our stubborn default is to become defensive. When confronted with a sociopath’s attempts to invalidate us, we seek answers and ask questions like:

  • Why would you say such a thing?
  • How could you think such things of me?
  • I thought you cared about me. I thought you thought I was smart.

These questions simply validate the sociopath’s invalidation of you, because if you have to question the question, you must be confused by what you believe to be real. And that’s exactly what the sociopath will keep asking you, too:

If you have to ask me, you must not understand what I’m saying. Let me explain it again.

(Oh, and he’s so sweet about it too, isn’t he? So helpful and open, huh? Pfft!)

And each time the sociopath re-words the same points, you continue to have the same questions. Why? Because it doesn’t make sense to your logical and free-thinking mind. Forcing someone to think just like you has never been a goal. So being confronted by a person who needs you to think just like him makes no sense. It goes against who you are and your understanding of the world. It causes confusion and even makes you question yourself. And once you start questioning your beliefs and measuring them against the sociopath’s beliefs, you’ve been caught in the web.

Ask yourself:

  • Am I confident in my abilities?
  • Do I really believe I am worthy of feeling the way I feel about life?
  • Am I convinced that I am just as important as the next person?

(The answer to these questions must be “yes.” If not, you have some work to do.)

If confronted by a sociopath, you must believe in yourself and your ability to be you. Otherwise, you’ll end up getting intoxicated by the confusion the sociopath spins, and your life and what you once knew of yourself and how you once thought about the world will spiral out of control. You will lose yourself to the control of the sociopath, giving him total and complete access and control over your life, physically, emotionally and spiritually.

Learn to love yourself completely and learn to spot and recognize language that invalidates so you know not to react or respond to it. By not reacting or responding, you disarm the sociopath and force the sociopath to go in search of someone willing to take the bait.

The more people willing to take the bait, the stronger the sociopath’s entitlement and delusions become.

We can’t really blame the sociopath for being so delusional and feeling so entitled, can we? Wouldn’t you feel powerful too if people changed their entire perception of the world just because you told them to change it?

Namaste!
~ Paula

© Paula Carrasquillo and Paula’s Pontifications, 2012 – 2013.

save yourself, Paula Carrasquillo, Paula Renee Carrasquillo, Paula Reeves-Carrasquillo, psychopath, sociopath, awareness, dating a sociopath, divorcing a narcissist

That Pesky Sociopath Who Thinks He’s Your Savior

save yourselfHow many times have you heard the following from the sociopath in your life:

“You have problems. You are sick. You need me because everyone else in your life has let you get away with being this way your entire life. You NEED me or you can’t get better.”

I heard it so many times. I’m sure you did, too.

Why is this part of their MO?

Because sociopaths like to be perceived as the hero. They want to be your savior. Saviors are respected and revered. Sociopaths like love being revered. It feeds their superiority complex.

But you didn’t need to be saved from anything when you met the sociopath, right? Me either!! So how did the sociopath convince us we needed to be saved?

By creating the pit we fell into, that’s how.

Generally speaking, when people are confused, people tend to feel lost and in need of help. The sociopath creates the confusion and in turn, our desperation to be saved from it.

How do they create this confusion?

Sociopaths use three rather opposing techniques in tandem to create the confusion: love bombing, gas lighting and devaluing.

Love Bombing and Plans for the Future
The sociopath tells you that everything about you is perfect. You talk about making plans for the future. You talk specific plans. You agree to the plan and the specifics. Everything is seems perfect.

Gas Lighting
At a later date, (maybe as soon as the very next day) you bring up some of the specifics of the plan. You’re told you are mistaken about the specifics of the plan. The sociopath explains the plans back to you, but they aren’t the plans you had agreed to. You are certain they have been altered. The sociopath assures you that they are the same plans you agreed to originally. But you know you never would have agreed to those plans. You know it!

Devaluing
You reject the plan. It’s not what you had talked about. The sociopath calls you a lying, selfish whore for rejecting the plan after having agreed to the plans. You are distraught. You can’t believe the same person who said you were so amazing is now calling you such horrid names.

The pit is being dug.

The cycle continues.

Love bombing, gas lighting, devaluing.
Love bombing, gas lighting, devaluing.
Love bombing, gas lighting, devaluing.
Love bombing, gas lighting, devaluing.

The pit gets deeper.

Depression sets in.

You take on a bad habit: over-eating, drinking, gambling, shopping, sleeping…Whatever it is, you do it to drown out your confusion.

But bad habits do a lot more than drown out the confusion. They turn you into someone and something you dislike.

The pit is too deep to crawl out on your own.

Soon, the sociopath learns of your bad habit, because you can’t hide the pounds you’ve added or the fact you don’t have enough money to pay your bills or you’re hung over, or hell, you just tell him that you’re struggling with something, because we learned a long time ago that the people we love and who love us can handle us even at our worst, right?

So we just assume that telling our “soul mate” (a.k.a. the sociopath we don’t realize is a sociopath) about our struggles will result in a healthy plan of attack to turn those bad habits around.

But it doesn’t work like that with a sociopath. Sociopaths don’t love themselves, so how are they supposed to understand your struggles and provide you with unconditional support and guidance?

They can’t, and they won’t. All they do is continue to use the same three techniques (love bombing, gas lighting and devaluing) sprinkled with lots of shaming and blaming, and Voila! You have yourself a false god. A false savior who continuously repeats:

“You have problems. You are sick. You need me because everyone else in your life has let you get away with being this way your entire life. You NEED me or you won’t get better.”

You’re screwed if you think this guy can help you. YOU. ARE. ROYALLY. SCREWED!

He can’t save you because he doesn’t wish to save you. The truth is that the sociopath created a bunch of lies, diversions and drama to convince you that you are hopeless. He might throw you a bone every now and then, but that’s just to give you hope so you keep holding onto the rope connecting you to his savior facade.

A true savior would take on your pain (not shame you) and get inside the pit with you and lift you up onto his shoulders and support you until you could get back on solid ground and stand on your own two feet.

But that’s exactly the opposite of what a sociopath wants. He wants you desperate, dependent and in NEED of him.

A sociopath doesn’t love you. A sociopath loves the idea of controlling you and keeping you all to himself.

But you are not a possession or an instrument that can be played and tuned to his liking. You do not need the sociopath to complete you, and you certainly don’t need him continuously telling you how worthless and weak you are.

The only thing a sociopath succeeds in doing is making you feel ashamed of your every-day mess ups. Once you fall into the trap of shaming yourself, you become disconnected from your core self. When you become disconnected from your core, you end up making bigger mistakes, mistakes that really cause you harm.

Then the sociopath can say, “See. I told you so. You’re sick. Look what you’ve done! I’m the only one who can save you now.”

I call BS on that. You should, too. These ultimate assholes couldn’t dig themselves out of jar of Jif. 🙂

Save yourself. Walk away and let the healing begin.

Namaste!

(image source: http://pinterest.com/pin/265712446734742994/)

healing shadow self

The Aftermath of the Sociopath and Identifying Signs of Abuse and Trauma in Yourself

healing shadow selfOnce the toxic relationship with the sociopath or narcissist has ended, we don’t immediately tend to our healing and recovery needs. Why? For starters, we simply fail to recognize our need to heal and recover. Although, we are good at spotting desperation and unhappiness in others, we are either too proud or in deep denial about our personal need for care and attention.

When I escaped the sociopath in January 2011, I was numb. My mind was unable to clearly process what had happened to me during those three (3) short years with the sociopath. I was lost. I struggled to make sense of the chaos of my thoughts. I struggled with shame and blame. I struggled with nightmares and cold sweats. I struggled with discussing what had happened to me, what WAS happening to me.

I struggled.

In my struggle, I failed to grasp the severity of the abuse and its impact on me. I failed to ask the right internal questions about how I was feeling. I failed to see the signs that I had suffered serious mental and emotional anguish that needed attention.

I ignored my needs, because I was desperate to understand ‘him,’ and I couldn’t bare the additional burden of facing a broken self.

Instead, I read and re-read every blog entry and website page that discussed and detailed sociopathic and narcissistic behaviors. I had many ‘ah-ha’ moments about ‘him’ and the relationship but not about me.

In the aftermath of the toxic relationship, most of us who have left or been discarded by a sociopath or narcissist spend an exorbitant amount of time learning how to recognize the signs, behaviors and red flags of the sociopath and narcissist.  We do this for a couple of reasons:

  1. To make sense ‘the source’ of the mental, emotional, physical and sexual abuse and exploitation we experienced.
  2. To hopefully avoid falling victim to another sociopath, narcissist or Cluster B personality in future romantic relationships.

There is great empowerment in educating ourselves about ‘him,’ but we can’t forget about educating ourselves about us.

Although I was seeing a counselor immediately following my escape, I rarely spoke to my counselor about the toxic relationship or ‘him.’ I stuck to discussions about my current life and mending my broken marriage and re-establishing trust. I spoke to my counselor about my struggles with alcohol but never talked about why I chose to self-soothe, self-medicate with booze. It just didn’t seem important to me, I thought.

Now, I realize that I was in deep denial. I just wanted my hatred for ‘him’ and his behavior to magically disappear, so I didn’t have to talk about it. Little did I know that I was directly ‘damaged’ by the relationship and had to face that ‘damage’ in order to move past the destructive aftermath.

How did I finally see that I had to start paying more attention to myself? Probably because I was becoming a person even I didn’t like to be around. That was tough to admit. I hated who I had become. I hated being angry. I was always such a happy person. I was always dreaming and thinking about the future. I loved being alone with my own thoughts.

Suddenly, I recognized that I was no longer behaving like the ‘me’ I had grown to know. I didn’t like myself and certainly didn’t trust myself. How did I expect anyone else to love or respect or trust me? I couldn’t.

Because I didn’t want to lose my family, I was determined to find myself and to learn how to trust myself again.

If I had been more aware and honest with myself, I would have recognized the following red flags of depression and despair sooner rather than later and would have been equipped to tackle and beat these after effects of pathological love:

  • Feeling depressed.
  • Feeling numb.
  • Loss of friends.
  • Nightmares.
  • Cold sweats.
  • Destructive forms of self-soothing and self-medicating like eating too much, not eating enough, drinking alcohol, abusing pain killers, etc.
  • Loss of enthusiasm for activities that were once a substantial part of your identity and existence.
  • Feelings of inadequacy in your abilities, skills and job performance.
  • Constant rumination; reliving episodes of abuse and trauma.
  • Avoidance of certain people, situations and places.
  • Inability to control anger as a result of a threat, real or perceived.
  • Constant need for validation from others in how you are feeling.

Many who read this will think, “Everyone experiences these types of feelings at some point in their lives.”

That is true, but we aren’t talking about fleeting feelings. We’re talking about constant, chronic, never-ending feelings that just won’t go away, regardless of our efforts to make them vanish. We’re talking about feelings and emotions that lead to self-destruction. No kidding. Self-destruction!

When we recognize the recurrence and insidious nature of our thoughts and emotions, we must realize it’s time to start making a plan to help ourselves by seeking help from others.

  • Reading a book isn’t always enough.
  • Joining an online support group isn’t always enough.
  • Talking to a counselor isn’t always enough.
  • Joining the gym isn’t always enough.
  • Practicing yoga isn’t always enough.
  • Getting out and doing things for the first time isn’t always enough.
  • Taking medication isn’t always enough.

Healing and recovery is a unique and individual path. What works for ‘her’ may not work for you. What worked yesterday, may not work today. Getting to the bottom of ourselves in order to change and better ourselves is a long and sometimes arduous journey. The first thing we must learn to do is to be patient with ourselves. Baby steps are required. Just because you recognize the effects, doesn’t mean they can all be remedied overnight.

What do I recommend?

Visit the website for The Institute for Relational Harm Reduction and Public Pathology Education for free and low-cost therapy and recovery assistance.  Founder, Sandra L. Brown, has over 25 years of experience as a psychoanalyst with expert knowledge and understanding of helping men and women who have suffered trauma as a result of pathological love.

You are not alone. Don’t be ashamed. There is help and hope for you!

Namaste!
~Paula

(image source: http://pinterest.com/pin/118289927683868545/)

Share Your Story!

Share your story of survival and recovery with me for my next book!

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I am writing a follow-up book to Escaping the Boy: My Life with a Sociopath and would like you and your story to be a part of it!

Submit your story!

My second book will focus on healing and recovery from pathological love relationships using mindful approaches like yoga, meditation, writing, journaling, joining support groups and much more.

I believe that the more real-life examples victims, survivors and advocates read, the better our collective understanding. The better our collective understanding, the easier it will be to increase our support systems and see real change in how divorce, child custody, domestic violence, rape and intimate partner abuse cases are approached, investigated and determined/prosecuted.

By following the “Submit Your Story” link, completing and submitting the form, you agree to have your story shared anonymously. However, if you would like me to use your name in my book, check the box at the end of the form prior to submission. Your name and home state/country will be included in the book’s acknowledgments.

If you have any questions prior to completing the form, send me a private message.

You can complete as little or as much of the form/questionnaire as you would like. Keep in mind that writing about your experiences may cause anxieties and a flood of emotions. If you are triggered in any way, stop writing and speak to a trusted counselor or loved one.

Submit your story!

http://storyofasociopath.com/Share_Your_Story_.html

The American "Psycho" Dream - Don't fall for it!

The American “Psycho” Dream – Don’t fall for it!

The American "Psycho" Dream - Don't fall for it!

If the sociopath were your son or daughter, would you be proud?

One of the internal conversations I had with myself prior to escaping the boy was about being proud…of the sociopath.

At the time, I didn’t know the term sociopath (outside of mainstream media and serial killers) nor did I know how a person could be classified as one.

All I knew were that his behaviors and treatments of myself and others did not add up to a person I was proud of being associated.

I would ask myself:

“Paula, if he were your son, would you be proud of him?”

I quickly answered “No!” to this.

But because I hate to be hasty, I jotted down a list of why I might be proud of him if I were his mother:

1. He has a house.
2. He has a car.
3. He has a business.

Then I asked myself if he cares for those things:

1. His house isn’t falling down. He’s adding to it to make it bigger.
2. His car is spotless and always clean.
3. His business seems to run itself. (Or is it the illegal laborers he’s got working for him that do that?)

I immediately thought, “How nice. He’s got things. He refers to this as having the American Dream, yet aren’t “things” only half of the Dream?

So, I continued my internal dialog and list:

4. He’s got friends. Well, he’s got a single friend who happens to have a wife and two amazing young boys. But that counts for something, right? Not exactly. His friend was cheating on his wife and needed to confide in someone he could trust not to tell, someone with experience cheating and succeeding. I’ll call this friend his fellow snake-in-the-grass companion.

5. He’s not close to his brother. Paula, that’s being too kind. He thinks his brother is a fat pig raising his niece to be a fat pig, too. He makes fun of his Brother’s girlfriend and thinks she’s pathetic for wasting her time with him. I kind of thought she was wasting her time, too, but for different reasons. But we can’t pick our family, right? So, who am I to judge this relationship, I thought to myself.

6. He never hugs or kisses or tells his mother he loves her. Granted, he built a detached garage with a mother-in-law suite for her and his father. But wait! They pay him rent.

7. I couldn’t remember a single kind act he performed for anyone. Not a single one. All I could see was him being smug with strangers. He was rude to waiters and waitresses. Cocky with people in passing. He honestly did not care if people saw him as a snob. He liked being considered a snob. Why? I guess he thinks being snobbish is equivalent to being someone who deserves respect. Twisted!!

Mid-way through this list, I quickly saw that he wasn’t looking like much of a catch.

But, again, I hate to judge anyone this way. It seems so unfair and unnatural to create such a list and then base my decision to stay or go from it.

Really? It’s the best thing I did for myself!

I was putting pieces of his character together. I would eventually use this list and compare it to the many lists of narcissistic and sociopathic traits and behaviors I would stumble upon online and in books and journals in the months following my exit from the relationship.

Yes, I was focused more on him than on me at the time. I get that. But don’t we have to consider our environment and its impact on us, physically and emotionally, in order to change our environment in hopes of getting better and finding ourselves again?

I wanted and needed to be absolutely sure that I made the right decision to discard this man and that returning would never cross my mind.

I learned through AA that one of the best paths to recovery from alcohol was to discard anyone in your life who hindered you from maintaining your sobriety.

“Who is unsupportive of me and who could potentially talk me into picking up a drink again in the future? Not necessarily bad people. Just people who don’t respect my choice to not drink.”

I looked at my mental health and well-being this way, too, and the boy hindered me from changing and growing in every area of my life.

I was not proud of the sociopath. I was not proud of myself for being associated with the sociopath.

Similarly to how I was not proud of my alcoholism or of myself under the influence of alcohol, I was not proud of my addiction to the sociopath or how I behaved under his influence.

Even after leaving, it took time and many, many struggles to rid my life, my mind and my thoughts of the sociopath’s influence. Very similar to what drug addicts experience going through detox. But mine was a mental detox, not a physical detox.

His cruel words and accusations echoed in my memory:

“Was I a whore? Was I really heartless and unworthy? Was I a piece of garbage?”

It was easier to quit drinking than it was to quit the behavior associated with the sociopath. Probably because I was under the false assumption that the sociopath and his accusations deserved to be treated with respect and consideration as if they were coming from a non-pathological human with no ill intentions.

And that was my biggest blind spot. I thought his intentions were good and meant to help me not harm me.

But there are no good intentions born from a sociopath. Their intentions are selfish-based intentions meant to destroy everyone else’s confidence so the sociopath has evidence that the rest of us are garbage just like him.

Don’t feed the monster’s pride by thinking his behavior is in the least bit respectable or tasteful. His behavior is despicable and tasteless and will insidiously take you over if you ignore your gut.

Namaste! Have a great weekend! ~Paula

My first article on Elephant Journal ~ “Letting go of perfect.”

Read the full article:
Letting go of perfect. ~Paula Carrasquillo

Letting go of perfect ~Paula Carrasquillo

source: Creative Commons by gnuckx

“Find the source of your perfectionism and open the door to your true potential.”

“Most of my adult life I was a perfectionist. I allowed myself very little wiggle room when it came to making mistakes. My perfectionism led to little mistakes becoming huge mistakes and little victories becoming completely diminished in my mind. I beat myself up over bad stuff and never gave myself any credit for the good stuff I created. Thankfully, I now understand the source of my destructive perfectionistic thinking, and it has made all of the difference in finding my path in life.” Read more…

“Are you okay?”

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Often, there is a much darker side to domestic violence and intimate partner abuse beyond the physical assaults and destruction of property. I’m referring to the destruction of the victim’s ability to find a purpose to go on living.

At my most depressed before escaping the boy, I thought about how easy it would be for me to end the anguish just by dying. I imagined myself dead. I thought about how my death would affect my son and my mother and my sisters. I didn’t like what I was imagining, but I couldn’t help but think about my own relief. I was tired of quietly crying myself to sleep or drinking myself into unconsciousness so I didn’t have to answer his phone calls, respond to his texts, or listen to the boy degrade me with his accusations and words. I didn’t know any other way to make it stop, but realized that dying was a great solution. Dying would end it all.

I remember sitting on the edge of the bed, grabbing my journal, and beginning THE letter. I didn’t get far before I heard my cell phone ringing. It was the special ring tone I chose for my sister Rachael. I answered. She asked me, “Are you Okay? I am worried about you.”

Instead of going into what I was in the midst of writing, I just talked with her. I took this call as a sign that I was being really, really stupid and really, really uncaring to myself and everyone who loved me. We kept talking. I felt better by the time we hung up, and I ripped the beginnings of the letter out of my journal and flushed it down the toilet. (If I had tossed it in the trash, there is no doubt the boy would have found it and had me admitted immediately. I think he was always hoping I’d end up in a mental hospital, because he KNEW, he was convinced, there was something wrong with me. Little did he know that the “something” was him.)

I never told anyone (not even my counselor) about these thoughts I had about dying. I don’t even know how I would have gone about dying. Killing myself seemed so far from anything I could imagine. Stepping out into traffic. Eating spoiled food on purpose. I honestly didn’t get far with thinking about the “how-to” part of the whole event. And to me, that simply meant I wasn’t THAT serious. But was I?

I often wonder what would have happened if I hadn’t received that call. Would I have written the letter and realized I was stupid? Or would I have written the letter and felt more certain dying was the only answer and way out? I don’t know. I have no idea what my next steps would have been. One thing I do know is that my sister did call me, and I picked up.

Thankfully, the thought of dying on purpose, of killing myself, of committing suicide, has not crossed my mind since that day. That day I started writing little notes to myself about why I wanted to live. I didn’t want to die. I didn’t want to miss out on my son’s life. I didn’t want to miss out on my own life, regardless of what setbacks it brought to me. I realized that I was the common denominator in my own life and my own sadness. But I also realized that I had to let go of the people who made my ability to fight for my happiness impossible. I had to escape. I had to surrender.

Walking away and giving up on a futile fight is not a sign of weakness. It’s a sign of strength. I didn’t know it at the time I escaped. It took me many months to regain my self-trust and self-confidence. I am still growing and learning. But, thankfully, I am growing far, far away from the pain and suffering that once had me doubt myself so completely.

If you are having doubts or if you know someone who is, visit the RU OK? site and learn how to lift the fog. Nothing and no one is worth your life and the guaranteed pain those left behind will suffer.

Be good to yourself. Be good to others. Namaste!

(image source: http://d-e-v-i.deviantart.com/art/Call-me-66015254)

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