Cry with me

I’ve cried a lot in my life. Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve cried: for myself, for my sisters, for my parents, for my friends and even for people I don’t know.

I used to be extremely affected when I was accused of being too emotional.

(Go figure, right!? Haha!)

But now, understanding what I know about being a highly emotional person, I embrace my emotions…my tears, my joy, my anger and my frustrations.

I imagine most who come here are highly emotional, highly sensitive and deep feelers.

You’ve probably been called emotionally unstable a few times in your life, too.

I want you to know that this sadness you feel and the tears you cry are not indicative of some type of clinical depression, especially when these tears flood out of you in moments of quiet thought and pondering.

It’s normal and necessary for us to release our emotions. When we don’t, tension and stress build.

I know some may be skeptical of all my talk of yoga and meditation. But wouldn’t it be a blessing to be in a room with a bunch of highly emotional survivors who experienced what you’ve experienced? All of us meditating quietly and releasing those tears to make room for our joy?

I envision it quite often…We have smiles on our faces as the tears roll down our cheeks.

I don’t call that unstable. I call that being perfectly in tune with our emotions with the freedom to express them without shame or judgement.


A pledge to yourself

Make a pledge to yourself:

“I Pledge that I will remain open to my healing and recovery process and that I won’t give up on myself no matter how often that voice inside my head tries to talk me into giving up.”

“I Pledge that I will remain faithful in my abilities to overcome any feelings of hopelessness and sadness and that I will reach out to a friend or loved one when I become overwhelmed.”

“I Pledge that I will celebrate my successes and never devalue or minimize my accomplishments and be confident and willing to give of myself only when it’s healthy to do so.”

“I Pledge that I will honor my life and my spirit and the lives and spirits of others who are walking beside me on this journey.”


A collective gut changes the world

Our emotions carry us away to places of self-doubt and shame when we deny them.

When we deny our emotions, we clog our intuition.

Stop denying them. Stop trying to turn your frown upside down. And stop trying to hide your joy when you are joyous.

Embrace your highly empathic nature. Embrace feeling deeply. Embrace your true nature.

Don’t keep trying to defend yourself against those labels people give you:

>> “You’re too sensitive.”

>> “You seem emotionally unstable.”

>> “You need to calm down.”

>> “You might want to see a counselor about your outbursts.”

>> “You’re crazy!”

The truth behind all of these labels is that they come from a place of fear. Your emotions and ability to release them scares the hell out of people.

So what do we do about it?

For starters, we don’t apologize for our feelings. Our feelings come from a highly intuitive place of understanding and knowing.

So we keep sharing what we feel, despite the fact there may be zero statistical evidence backing us up. And when we see another who bravely shares, we back that person up. We don’t cower and hide behind the pack.

We want things to change, right? Well, the only way to see change in the world is to exert our powerful emotions.

Once each of us starts to share, the statistics become very clear and valid.

Look what has happened in communities like this one? We started talking about things no one wanted to believe was true, and now we have numbers that prove that what we have seen and felt all along are absolutely valid and absolutely real.

Never underestimate your gut and the domino effect and power it can invoke to unearth the voice of a collective gut.

A collective gut changes the world.

Wow! Really!


The internal film of my life


My life frequently passes chronologically through my internal lens like a film, a movie trailer. It seems to start and end the same each time it plays. But the middle always surprises me by what my subconscious chooses to remember and draw to the surface at a specific time of day or during a particular season.

Today, my film is playing out like this:

>> I see myself chasing after lightning bugs as a child with my sister.

>> I see my 2nd grade teacher, Mrs. Newlon, who encouraged me to speak in front of people despite the embarrassing way my “R”s came out sounding like “W”s.

>> I see the town librarian who never smiled and always seemed annoyed that my sister and I would come in on really hot summer days and sit for hours and read Highlights magazines just to cool off.

>> I see myself at sleepovers with my friends Missy and Lissa and their annoying little brothers.

>> I see myself sitting through my high school graduation next to Doug who finally spoke his first words to me after being in the same classes for 4 years.

>> I see myself as a freshman in the dorms and running barefoot in the puddles behind Cumberland Hall with Kristy who loved thunderstorms.

>> I see myself visiting DC for the first time alone to be with my friend Susan and meeting her Korean ballerina roommate who had no shame in telling me that her secret Korean spice was MSG.

>> I see all the interesting patrons I met waiting tables in college.

>> I see my friends and parties and celebrations and vacations and the ocean and the mountains.

>> I see my wedding day and the day I learned I was pregnant.

>> I see myself meeting my son for the first time.

>> I see last night and how my son is growing into a boy who makes me proud.

>> I see the sociopath and how accepting one man’s self-pity nearly destroyed my vision of all the beauty my life has provided.

>> I see the power I had once given that ugly grain of sand.

>> I see how that ugly grain of sand will forever spread his self-pity, and I accept that there is absolutely nothing I can do to stop it.

So I go back to thinking about planning my next party with the people I love and who love me.

I think about being here, now and being completely confident in my next decision to grow and learn and to open my life to more opportunities to meet even more wonderful people I will one day be seeing in future versions of my life’s internal film.


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Don’t be ashamed to feel angry

Anger is a natural and valid emotion. We become angry when our sensations are assaulted.

Most of us don’t address our anger as it arises and instead allow anger to sit and fester. When we do this, our anger grows and overpowers all of the other sensations we experience, including feelings of happiness and joy.

Over time, this build-up of anger makes us seem like angry people to the outside world. If we’re confronted about our built-up anger, our immediate response is to say, “No way! I’m not angry!”

And that statement may be true in the moment. You may not recognize that you are holding inside unresolved, unaddressed anger. Being told by someone that they think you’re angry makes you more angry. It’s such an unfortunate cycle.

Why do we hold in our anger? Why do we try to hide it and not address it?

The simple answer is that most of us were conditioned to believe that being angry is not good. So when we feel angry, we feel like we’re somehow not good, and the last thing we want others to see is our anger for fear they’ll judge us as not good. And the sad irony is that this fear actually makes us internally more angry and ashamed of ourselves. How unfair.

The first step toward releasing years of engrained, unaddressed anger is to accept that being angry is NOT a sign of weakness or a sign that we are emotionally unstable or bad people.

Anger is a natural emotion and deserves our attention.

Once you accept this, you can start dissecting those things from your past that made you angry. You can start releasing the anger freely through writing or through discussions with those you trust.

Don’t be ashamed to express this anger. We must move through it, not side step it. Denying our anger or any emotion is unhealthy and toxic. Denying our anger makes us sick physically, emotionally and spiritually. People don’t want to be around us when we’re sick. They just don’t.

Once we address all that anger we swept under the rug, we become more accepting of any new frustrations and situations that anger us. We immediately begin to recognize the sensation of anger, and we learn to patiently move through it. We no longer shame ourselves or judge ourselves for feeling angry.

When we can do this with all of our emotions and sensations, we experience freedom.

And when someone reacts to us and says, “I think you’re angry,” don’t be ashamed. Say, “Yes, I am angry.”

Own your emotions. You’ll be amazed at how your world opens up when you do and at how quickly you can resolve your anger to make room to fully embrace other more enjoyable emotions that come over you. No more unaddressed anger clogging the path for happiness and joy to reach our consciousness.


New page! FAQs – Healing and Recovery from Pathological Abuse and Trauma

After two years of receiving the same/similar questions from readers, I finally decided to get smart and create an FAQ page.

FAQs – Understanding and Recovering from Pathological Abuse and Trauma | Paula’s Pontifications

The FAQ list will continue to grow. I already have questions sitting in front of me waiting to be answered! And I will make every attempt to answer them as intelligently and as thoughtfully as I am able. If I can’t answer them, I’ll direct us to someone who can.

Follow this link to the FAQ page:


What to look forward to if you decide to break “No Contact” with the sociopath


No Contact isn’t easy to maintain.

In the early months of recovery, not only are you detoxing from the addiction of being totally dependent upon the sociopath for emotional validation and support, you are also going through the natural rumination and bargaining phase of grief.

And the grief is multi-layered! You are not only grieving the loss of a relationship, but you’re also grieving the loss of a fantasy you thought was real.

You want answers. You demand answers, dammit! So you erroneously think the sociopath will give them to you. You contemplate breaking No Contact.

Reaching out to the sociopath will inevitably harm you. The sociopath will do 1 of 4 things:

1. Ignore you, causing you to question yourself more. (Stonewaller)

2. Respond to you with hate and vile, causing you to question yourself more. (Persecutor)

3. Respond to you with feigned concern, telling you that you’re sick and need professional help, causing you to question yourself even more. (Savior Complex)

4. Respond to you with a weak apology and love bombing to suck you back in, causing you to question yourself more. (Pity Ploy)

All of these responses give the sociopath power and control over you. The sociopath feeds off of your desperation.

Do you want to continue this merry-go-round? Or do you finally want to break free from the craziness?

You know what you need to do…


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Meeting another woman “struck” by a sociopath

I always find it difficult to explain how deeply I feel about a friend. I always fear I’ll leave out an important detail or my friend will think I’m just blowing smoke. I realize those fears are my own projections. In the recent past, I’ve been a bit weary of praises I’ve received. I’ve always questioned if they were authentic or if the person throwing them my way wanted something from me.

Fortunately, the spiritual journey on which I have actively been participating for a couple of years now, has allowed me to discern the authentic and unauthentic, both in myself and others. After all, we’re all guilty of superfluous thoughts and exaggerations…mostly out of fear!

So this is a post about love and friendship. Fear doesn’t enter the equation.

A few weeks ago, I visited California. Before my trip, I reached out to a few bloggers I knew through this journey who lived in California. I didn’t come right out and say, “Hey, I’m going to be in California. Let’s try to meet up.” Instead, I simply asked how they were doing. With friends, that simple question leads to conversations about general life challenges and joys.

When I reached out to Lynna (her blog is My Sociopath: Struck by a Sociopath), I sensed she was overloaded with lots of work and school responsibilities. I decided not to mention I was going to be in California. I didn’t want her to feel pressured into carving out time to meet up with me. There would always be other opportunities. This trip wasn’t it, I thought.

Fast forward to day #2 of my trip:

I woke up very early Saturday morning. I left my husband sleeping and went out to Hollywood Blvd. for coffee and to search for “Hollywood Stars” to photograph and share on Facebook for some friends and myself. I would find the star, take the picture and then post the image to Facebook and tag my friend. It was like a treasure hunt!!

At about 7:45 a.m. as I was about to snap a picture of Bruce Lee’s star (for myself, actually), a notification ran across my screen from Lynna. She was up and texting me.

I abandoned my treasure hunt and responded excitedly to her message. She and I are friends on Facebook. She saw the stars I was posting.

“You’re in California!” she texted.

I could sense her excitement. It made me excited.

“Yes, I am!” I responded.

She wanted to get together. She suggested a place to meet. I said maybe I could grab a Zip car from the hotel.

At approximately 8:00 a.m., I signed off of my phone and went on a mission to find transportation. I was incredibly excited to meet Lynna…FINALLY!

By 8:30 a.m., I re-messaged Lynna to tell her that I had found a car and that my husband would be coming, too.

By 9:00 a.m., I was on my way to Laguna Beach to meet one of the first bloggers I started following nearly two years before. I was anxious, nervous and elated.

As I drove and got lost once, I couldn’t help but think about how magical and other-worldly I was feeling. I felt like I was being transported to a different place and time. It truly felt surreal to be driving down a California highway headed to the coast to meet someone who I felt a deep and real connection, despite the fact we had never met in person.

By 10:30 a.m., I was hugging Lynna. Wow. (She is exactly as I imagined she’d be, except I thought she was a blonde when, in fact, she’s a red head).

We talked blogging, yoga, school, sociopaths, narcissists (of course!), and we talked food and friendship. I felt at home and welcomed. It was the shortest three hours I’ve experienced in a long time.

Then I met Ivonne the next day…

I am grateful for this blog for many, many reasons, the least of which are the friendships I’ve made and continue to make.


Losing our identity and fading away under the sociopath’s diabolical spell


Everything about the toxic relationship was guided and directed by the sociopath’s perpetual gaslighting, shaming and blaming. According to him, he was always MY victim, and I never loved him and never appreciated him…ever.

Unfortunately, I played into the mind games and subtle abuse that slowly and insidiously chipped away at my confidence and my core beliefs. By the end of the relationship, I was a bundle of nerves and chaos. I didn’t know if I was good or evil. I questioned everything and every idea I had about who I was and how I ended up where I ended up. If you believe that life gives us what we ask for, I guess I was nothing but a pathetic masochist. But truly, who asks for this and perpetuates it willingly?

I’ll give an example of his subtle mental and emotional abuse techniques. The scenario that follows illustrates how quickly, ruthlessly and seamlessly the sociopath moves between the roles of savior, persecutor and victim.

(The following may be triggering for many who experienced similar crazy-making.)

I am certified and trained to teach English as a Second or Other Language (ESOL) and to tutor individuals studying to take their GED. After searching, researching and finally deciding on volunteering for a local non-profit in need of tutors, I called the sociopath to discuss my decision and determine which evenings worked best. Immediately, he lashed out at me.

Sociopath: “How could you make such a decision without consulting me first?”

Me: [confused] “I am consulting you. I haven’t confirmed anything with the organization.”

Sociopath: “You’re lying! You did all of that research without asking me first.”

Me: [more confused] “I’m not sure what you mean. I mentioned to you my desire to tutor and you thought it was very generous of me to volunteer.”

Sociopath: [avoiding my factual statement] “You are putting us at risk by working with THOSE people. You’re putting your child at risk. These people are drug dealers and users. What kind of mother puts her child at risk on purpose? You’re being careless and stupid.”

Me: [confused because I hadn’t even mentioned to him the profile of the students I would be assisting] “That’s not true. You don’t know that.”

Sociopath: [elevated and angry voice] “YOU TOLD ME THESE PEOPLE YOU HELP ARE AT-RISK.”

Me: [realizing he had misunderstood what I meant by at-risk, I attempted to clarify] “I’m sorry. At-risk doesn’t mean they’ve done something bad, specifically. It means…”

Sociopath: [interrupting with elevated and angry and breathless voice] “Don’t tell me I’m stupid! Don’t lie to me now. You are such a liar! You are so selfish! How could you do this to me? I love you so much and you choose to waste your evening helping THOSE people!?”

Me: [confused and wishing I could explain to him that my choice to help these people isn’t to take away time from US] “That’s just silly. Helping and volunteering makes me happy. I want to see these people succeed. I can show you the statistics that support…”

Sociopath: [interrupting me again with more anger and vile in his language] “You fucking ungrateful bitch! You’re going to choose THOSE people over me? Because if you choose THOSE people, I’m gone.”

This conversation occurred 2 years into the 3-year relationship. Luckily, this conversation happened over the phone; I still had my own place and was not living with the sociopath. I was able to stand my ground…at first.

I told him that if he was forcing me to make such a ridiculous choice, I’d gladly choose helping THOSE people over being subjected to his childish and unfair attacks.

(I was still very much under the impression that he simply needed to learn more about the volunteer work I was doing and that he’d eventually come to terms with it and welcome my decision.)

Instead, the sociopath just began to cry wildly on the other side of the phone…wailing into the receiver.

“I can’t believe you’d do this to me! I love you so much!!! So Muuuuch! Sooooo muuuuuuch!”

All I could hear for several minutes was him crying and sobbing through the phone. It was so loud and so prolonged, I was unable to console him or attempt to interject. I felt incredible responsible and guilty.

It was MY FAULT he was in so much pain. I wanted his pain to stop. I gave up tutoring.


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


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!


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