How can you instantly repulse a sociopath? By living mindfully!

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We hear the word “mindful” a lot these days. But what does it mean?How do we act mindfully when we thought all along that that’s what we’ve been doing?

Unfortunately, what we’ve mostly been doing is walking around living mindlessly, not mindfully. Much of what we busy ourselves with, day in and day out, is routine and/or constructed and directed by someone or something other than ourselves.

From brushing our teeth to deciding who our friends should be, there’s not much we do daily that actually requires us to tap into our own brains. We’re sadly controlled in many ways, and we aren’t even aware of how controlled we are.

Then we’re struck by a sociopath. A person who overtly and covertly attempts to further restrict our brains and our minds. The sociopath introduces an additional layer of control into our lives that we initially don’t even notice.

We succumb MINDLESSLY to the sociopath’s control. Time passes, and our minds slowly and miraculously begin to become aware of the sociopath’s control. We move from a state of mindlessness in the relationship to a state of mindfulness. This transition of thoughtful awareness destroys the toxic relationship’s quiet anonymity. The crazy-making, chaos and darkness that seemed so normal to us for so long suddenly come into focus. We see their destructive qualities with clarity.

But now what? How do we “make it stop” without making the relationship stop?

We can’t.

The relationship was charged by and thrived on those destructive, mindless and powerful elements. Those destructive elements were based on fear and not love. To shift the dynamic requires both people in the relationship to reach, simultaneously, an awareness that they failed. As a couple, they failed.

Normal, non-sociopathic couples who love and respect each other are capable of this synergistic realization and mutual accountability. There is a natural desire between two people who truly love each other to maintain that love, and the hard work required of both gets underway.

But when one of those people in the failed couple is a sociopath, the synergy is never reached. There is never a mutual acceptance of the failure, because there isn’t and never was a heart bond.

But there is no denying that some kind of bond existed between you and the sociopath and between you and the relationship. You weren’t holding on to nothing. Something was there.

So what kind of bond was it that kept us so desperate and clinging not to give up?

Many call it a betrayal…a single betrayal bond. But there are actually two betrayals we experience simultaneously:

1.) The betrayal of the sociopath: We were fooled into thinking this person had a conscience, could fully empathize with others and was able to feel deep remorse for the pain, intentional and non-intentional pain, inflicted on others. We thought we mattered as humans, but we were simply a means to an end for the sociopath. Materialistic ends.

2.) The betrayal of ourselves: Our mindlessness was disguised as mindfulness. We mindlessly and with false idealism thought we knew things about life and love. We truly believed that if we felt love for another, the person we loved would naturally mirror that feeling and love us in return. On the contrary, we failed to realize that love, pure love, never means we are fearful. The sociopath brainwashed us, temporarily, into thinking that being fearful, walking on eggshells, was a part of loving someone you wish to please. We held on when we should have read the signs with more clarity and discernment and let go…the first time the sociopath’s mask slipped.

In a very real sense, we had been betraying ourselves all along, long before we ever met the sociopath. Our first and overriding betrayal bond was our own self-betrayal due to our zombie-like mindlessness.

Once we started thinking more mindfully, we were able to see how we betrayed ourselves and how we were simultaneously betrayed by the sociopath. Lightbulbs went off in our minds, and both betrayal bonds quietly disintegrated. They washed away. They disappeared like magic.

And if we look at it this way, it becomes less of a loss and a failure and more of a gain and a success, because now our minds are finally open, conscious and aware. Our compassion for ourselves reflects our compassion for others. We see clearly now how to measure our graciousness and love…we start with our own hearts.

We finally notice the difference between mindless living and mindful living.

Hopefully, living mindfully feels good to you and you continue striving to be open and aware, never looking for excuses outside of yourself. That’s living mindfully.

We now know how to love fully and receive love completely. Our standards for love have changed and evolved but not in an arrogant or egotistical way. Rather, we’ve learned that our standards of love and romance must match our self-love and WILL match our self-love.

If we really love ourselves, we’ll connect with others who have the capacity to truly love us, too.

If we don’t love and fully value our worth as people, we’ll likely embrace another sociopath who can’t love and fully value our worth, either.

The sociopath simply opened our eyes to our own self-deceptive patterns and mindless habits, which opened our eyes to the sociopath’s dark nature. With our minds open, we deeply and completely rejected the darkness, which pushed us toward acting less mindlessly and more mindfully moving forward.

Ironically and much to the sociopath’s dismay, the sociopath’s over-the-top need to control us ignited our desire to control ourselves and reach for the escape hatch.

And to continue being mindful in our everyday is to simply live in the moment and appreciating every inhale and exhale and be thankful for the inhales and exhales of those surrounding us.

Namaste!
Paula

(Image source: http://media-cache-ec0.pinimg.com/1200x/77/0e/3c/770e3cb42889450a2f65081d7b4ca5d6.jpg)

The sociopath thinks you suck? Good! Throw a party!

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Why are you so concerned about what the sociopath thinks of you?

Why does it matter to you, knowing what you know about sociopaths, if the sociopath likes you or not?

Personally, I would like for all sociopaths to meet me and instantly get repulsed.

Why?

If they liked me, I’d be open to becoming a potential victim.

But I’m not going to go out of my way to be unlikable just in case a sociopath crosses my path.

However, I will use my boundaries and practice saying “no” in all situations and all relationships.

Why?

Saying “no” is relatively harmless. Normal, non-sociopathic people might initially respond to your “no” with a grimace or two, but they’ll get over it and respect you in the end.

However, the least pleasant word to hit a sociopath’s ears is the word “no.” It’s the biggest red flag while the sociopath is assessing potential victims. The sociopath hears that word and immediately thinks, “What a piece of shit she is to say “no” to me! I’ll show her. I’m not going to be her friend.”

(Thank you, God!!)

Do you see how we can dodge these bullets, completely unaware, just by being true to ourselves, our interests, and our desires?

Putting yourself first by using your boundaries isn’t a selfish act; it’s a self-preserving and protective act.

So even though you let the sociopath from your past (and possibly still your present) walk all over your boundaries, you have the opportunity to build up and maintain those once crushed boundaries.

Start today. Start saying “no” when you really want to say “no.”

You want the sociopath to continue to think you suck. Really…You do.

Besides, once a sociopath thinks you suck, you’ll always suck in the eyes of a sociopath.

Even if you become Miss America, the next governor of your state, or a New York Times best selling author, the sociopath will STILL continue to smear you among his/her minions and all of the people once mutual in your inner circle while in the toxic relationship.

Don’t let the sociopath’s nonsense and refusal to evolve his/her mind stop you from finding and reaching your potential. Who cares what the sociopath thinks, right?

Be proud of your breakthroughs and accomplishments out of love and respect for yourself. You will never be able to change the sociopath’s ugly and dismissive opinion of you.

Keep saying “no” to the sociopath but “yes” to your own needs and dreams and wishes and goals!!

Namaste!
~Paula

Recognizing the Tainted Love of the Sociopath

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My son has this silly question he likes to ask me:

“Who do you love more, Mommy? Daddy or me?”

I think it’s a really unfair question, and I tell him so…sort of:

“How could you ask such a question? I love you both as much as I can possibly love the two most important people in my life.”

But because he’s only 8 and still thinks the world revolves around him, he presses:

“Ah, come on. You love me more, don’t you?”

I try to affirm him:

“I love you more every day.”

He just smiles, throws me his frustrated glance and gives up trying to get me to say something that he knows I won’t say.

Is it even possible for us to love one person that we love more than we love another person that we love? Are there degrees to love?

I don’t believe there are degrees to love. I think love is just…love!

Love is the greatest and most powerful feeling we feel and sociopaths bastardize that feeling by tricking us into thinking they are capable of love and attachment.

>> People who are capable of love and attachment don’t use love as a tool to control, shame or blame another. EVER! <<

In intimate relationships, sociopaths often say: "If you really loved me, you would/wouldn't do X, Y or Z."

Language like this is intended to manipulate, control and play on an empathic person's natural inclination to feel empathy.

When we hear such nonsense, we don't recognize it as nonsense. Instead, we react fearfully. We fear we haven't shown or proven our love enough. We generally say things like:

"But I do love you. I'm so sorry for making you feel like that. I promise not to do X, Y or Z ever again. I had no idea how it was going to affect you. I'm so, so sorry."

Wow. You just validated the sociopath. You just proved to him that you don't love him enough. Do you see how you set yourself up to be raged upon again? And how easy it was for the sociopath to control you and what you do moving forward?

And the sociopath will NEVER forget the conversation. The sociopath will always remember that you admitted to not loving him. Yes. That's about all the sociopath got out of your response: you don't love him
And you won't do those things again that proved you don't love him.

And those few things are just the beginning of the laundry list of reasons the sociopath will collect to prove you don't love him.

Your entire relationship becomes a test of proving you love the sociopath! Do you see how twisted that is? Do you see why your head got all foggy and confused?

You understand love. You opened your heart to love and let it in. Then you were accused of NOT loving the sociopath who demanded, day in and day out, that you must PROVE to him that you love him.

(Love isn't an emotion that needs to be proven. It's about as preposterous as proving you're angry in the midst of being angry. Anyone can see you're angry. The same way people you love instinctively see that you love them.)

Not so when you "love" a sociopath. Each day you find out you did something else that proves you don't love him, and each day you promise never to do that thing again. Soon you are swimming in a pile of "don'ts" too fearful to take any type of action thinking whatever you do will be added to that don't-do list. (That walking-on-egg-shells feeling. Remember it?) Thanks to the sociopath, you lose sight of the simplicity of love and loving someone.

You long for that simplicity. You long for what you know love to be:

Love is a feeling that leads to actions and those actions are patience, kindness, forgiveness, understanding and trust.

There are no exceptions.

Love feeds those actions, and we are drawn to demonstrate those actions. That's why we put up with what we put up with for so long. We were so damn patient and kind and forgiving that it nearly killed our spirit.

During that slow death, we forgot that love is not a one-way street. As much as we give, we should naturally receive. Naturally. In some form. Indirectly or directly. No one who loves us would have the audacity to say we're loving them inadequately or that the way we love them is wrong.

Believe that!! See that!!! There is no right way to love someone. We just do. We feel and then we act on our love. If someone doubts our love, then they don't love us. Period.

It's really that simple.

I love my son so much and I love my husband and I love my sisters, brothers and my parents. None of them…not a single one of them…has ever accused me of loving them less and loving another more. My family knows what love is.

Sociopaths do not. Why? Outside of intellectualizing what it means to be without a conscience, I wish I had a definitive answer. But it's not for me to discover, change, fix or pity.

Some might say that I'm being selfish and narcissistic and that I'm being a hypocrite:

"Don't you care? How can you claim to be a loving person, but be willing to leave a fellow human being stranded on the side of the road just because he doesn't know what love is?"

How? Because I love myself more, that's how.

(And stop with the shaming dramatics!! No sociopath is going to die from starvation just because I choose to walk away from him.)

Namaste!
~Paula

(Image source: http://pinterest.com/pin/448178600388760507/)

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/)

Identifying Signs of Trauma in Yourself In Order to Heal, Recover and Transform

Signs of Trauma in Victims of Abuse

“Trauma survivors have symptoms instead of memories.” – Mary R. Harvey (1996). An ecological view of psychological trauma and trauma recovery. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 9:1, 3-23. (Read the abstract and download the PDF.)


I think one of the greatest mistakes many victims make is denying we have a problem until it’s too late. We tend to be ignorant of what trauma looks and feels like.

I’m the first to admit that I failed myself REPEATEDLY, because I ignored the signs and thought I could fix my own issues despite repeated failures to do so.

Before I accepted I was a victim and that there was absolutely NOTHING I could do to change what happened, I could check off all 18 of the below signs. All severe and intense.

1. Depression
2. Irritability
3. Loss of interest
4. Numbing
5. Decreased concentration
6. Insomnia
7. Emotionally overwhelmed
8. Loss of the sense of the future – Hopelessness
9. Shame and worthlessness
10. Little or no memories
11. Nightmares and flashbacks
12. Hyper-vigilance and mistrust
13. Generalized anxiety – panic attacks
14. Chronic pain and headaches
15. Substance abuse and/or eating disorders
16. Feeling unreal or out of body
17. Self-destructive behavior
18. Loss of sense of “Who I am”

Today, my abuser might be walking around free to prey on his next victims, but justice has been served in my life, because none of the 18 signs listed above control or negatively affect my life anymore.

I am free for the first time in many, many years.

No more shaming and blaming yourself. No more ignoring the signs. No more hiding behind your need to be perfect. No more thinking you’ll be a burden if you reach out and ask for help.

Take the first step toward your freedom today!

Namaste!
~Paula

In the Aftermath of Sociopathic Abuse: Discovering Your Healing Plan and Transformational Powers

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You were victimized. You’re tired. You feel damaged. You’d rather sleep than jump out of bed and enjoy your day.

What’s there to enjoy, right?

You feel ashamed. You feel depressed. Some of us even feel bipolar and/or borderline.

You have exhausted all of your inner resources. You can’t seem to snap out of this indifferent state of being.

And because you keep reading websites and books, you’re convinced you suffer from PTSD and are depressed or bipolar or borderline.

So you contemplate visiting a doctor whose job it is to diagnose you in order to fix you.

You think if you get that diagnosis, you can be prescribed that pill that can fix you.

(Really? You think a doctor who doesn’t know you can figure you out in a single session, prescribe you a medication and then you’re magically fixed? Does that ever work?)

For many of us, the diagnosis, the label placed upon us by our doctor, can often be our downfall. We initially think getting labeled will relieve us and that taking that pill will get us through our day.

I think the opposite is true. I think being labeled can destroy our psyche even more. I think in our search for empowerment, we become even more disempowered and dependent, because once the diagnoses hits our ears, fear sets in. Receiving the diagnosis and prescription can act as triggers in many cases.

So what do we do? We need to know what’s keeping us stuck and how we can get unstuck. We desperately want answers and a solution to our pain.

I think it’s as simple as changing our expectations and accepting that the diagnosis, whatever you discover it to be, is temporary.

We must stop relying solely on what that first doctor tells us and what that first doctor prescribed.

We must stop defining ourselves using the diagnosis as a mental crutch:

>>You aren’t anxiety; you suffer from feelings of anxiety.

>>You aren’t depression; you suffer from feelings of depression.

>>You aren’t PTSD; you suffer from symptoms of PTSD.

None of these diagnoses are permanent, and there are many alternatives to taking prescription medicine.

So first and foremost, don’t just go to any psychiatrist or family doctor. If you can, find a doctor or counselor who specialized in trauma as a result of relational harm and/or domestic violence situations.

And unless you absolutely can not perform simple daily tasks, reject the prescription. (You CAN do that!) Instead, ask your doctor for alternatives to medication. Ask your doctor about holistic approaches to treating your depression and your PTSD triggers.

Your doctor may be clueless! If your doctor is clueless, ask for a referral. But great doctors who are being continually educated on treatment methods and approaches will be thrilled that you’re open to something unconventional.

Search for holistic health centers or integrative medicine clinics or programs in your area.

If you take a medication that makes you feel numb, fuzzy and not yourself, talk to your doctor about the possibility of coming off the medication while simultaneously trying something more natural or holistic as a counter balance.

You may discover that simple changes to your diet, cutting out alcohol, experimenting with various forms of exercise or changing jobs can have an enormous, positive effect on your emotional health.

(Yoga and meditation have done wonders for me. Maybe Pilates or running or kayaking is your thing. Experiment!)

We are all very different and require varying degrees of care and attention. Some of us have many, many years of untreated trauma to wade through and medication is often necessary for the short term. It is!! Absolutely, it is.

But remember that this is your body, your mind and your future. When you feel like something isn’t working for you, tell your doctor. Don’t be afraid or intimidated to ask, “What else can I do to regain my emotional health?”

And don’t be afraid or intimidated to shop for a new doctor.

You’re not damaged; you’re temporarily broken. But with an open mind, a conscious effort and doctors and/or counselors you trust, you really can heal and become transformed.

Namaste!
~Paula

(Image source: http://piccsy.com/mobile/2012/06/picc-iqf6yoyt6)

Being Nasty Back Only Backfires

I am the first to admit that, historically, I haven’t responded to nasty and hateful people very well. My initial reaction was to respond with equal nastiness. Why? I think because I misunderstood why people are nasty to others. I used to think that the nasty person was nasty because the person they were being nasty toward had been nasty first. I reacted in a nasty way to the nasty person, because I was pissed at erroneously being viewed as being a nasty and hateful person! (How stupidly ironic of myself!)

Pfft!

Now I know that nasty people are just nasty and mean for no reason. Well, other than the fact that the nasty person hates him/herself and the nasty person has zero respect for others as a result of their self-hatred.

Pitying these people just perpetuates their hate. And being nasty back and lashing out at their nastiness just serves to validate their natural state of nastiness. They think if others are nasty to them, they are justified in their nastiness.

Today, I respond differently to nasty and hateful people.

When the nasty person is my boss or co-worker, I set my boundaries, say “no” when appropriate and ignore their judgment of myself and others. Questioning them isn’t worth losing my job or being bullied into leaving my job. (Been there!)

If the nasty person is an acquaintance or someone on Facebook or my blog, I slip away quietly. The relationship isn’t solid enough or based on much to obligate myself to explain myself. Stepping away, unfriending that person and not engaging further is self-preservation and self-protection. The mean and nasty person will doubtfully even notice my silence and sudden elimination from their friend list.

If the nasty person is someone I am face-to-face with and who has no authority over me, I am more direct: “You’re not very nice or considerate. What you just said about that person is unacceptable and I choose not to listen.” Then I walk away.

And don’t get me wrong. I can be nasty some days and my close family and friends can be nasty and inconsiderate some days. But it’s not the occasional bad mood I’m talking about here. It’s those people who repeatedly and daily show their true nasty colors in all that they do, say and plan and connive. It’s the people who have nothing nice to say about anyone behind their backs. It’s the hateful who find glee in seeing others in pain. It’s the ones who feign care about life while simultaneously trying to destroy another’s life.

I write about this, because no matter how positive and hopeful I am, the inevitable nasty person crosses my path. I need to be prepared and ready to NOT act nasty. (I’m sure with greater practice, I won’t think about it as much. Not being nasty back will be my natural response.)

My biggest downfall, up to this point, has been wrongfully thinking that if I gave the nasty person a taste of his/her own medicine, he/she would see the light. Nope. The nasty person just spits out the medicine, splashing me in the eye with it, and I’m the one left mad and feeling crazy.

Namaste!
~Paula 🙂

Part 1: A Victim of Childhood Abuse Becomes My Abuser

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Yesterday was my 42nd birthday. (That’s me above celebrating my 8th birthday with three of my sisters.) This morning, I decided to start sharing, in parts, my personal deconstruction process which has helped me in my healing and recovery from trauma and abuse.

Although my book and blog specifically detail my recent life history and abuse, the bigger story of my abuse started many years ago long before I met the sociopath. I’m hoping by sharing the bigger story of me, of Paula, others can come to terms with their past as I have and accept themselves, warts and all, in order to move forward with more awareness of our capabilities and our limitations.

How did I fall victim to sociopathic abuse? Why was my self-esteem and confidence diminished despite all of the seemingly good things I had going for me? Why was I delusional and depressed? Why did I choose alcohol to drown my fears and need to forget? Why is it important to remember in order to finally let go?

My wish in writing and sharing my deeper story is to shed light on possible answers to these questions, for me and for you.

Part 1: A Victim of Childhood Abuse Becomes My Abuser

Never in a million daydreams would I have imagined being a victim. Being a victim of trauma never even crossed my mind growing up.

As a child and young woman raised in the Appalachians of western Maryland, I was surrounded by economic extremes. I attended kindergarten sandwiched between friends who didn’t know what a home-cooked meal looked like and friends who rode to school in luxury cars and wore fur coats at recess.

I didn’t allow myself to think too much about how unfair life seemed for Timmy or how much I wished I were Cassandra. I was generally happy and content being me.

I loved my parents; I loved my sisters; I loved my aunts and uncles and cousins and grandparents. I grew up feeling loved and respected by the people who mattered most in my life. And I was determined to make them proud of me and never regret loving me.

I had older sisters I looked up to and a younger sister I protected. I yelled at boys who teased her and defended her against mean girls who took her meekness for weakness.

The funny thing is, unfortunately, when it came time to defend myself against a giant, I failed.

I was 18. A high school senior on my way to college in the fall. He was also 18. Already graduated but not in college. He was working at a local pizza parlor and trying to break into semi-professional lacrosse. A year before I met him, he had been a member of the Maryland High School Class 1A State Football Championship team. I thought that was impressive. He was passionate about sports and had dreams and potential. At 18, that was good enough for me. I called him my boyfriend for 6 months.

The abuse started in subtle ways (at least they seemed subtle to me then; today I would see them as glaring red flags). There was a poke here on the arm and another on my forehead. The pokes would come unannounced as I was talking or expressing an opinion, an opinion he didn’t like.

One day, the pokes were replaced by full-shoulder grabs, like he was trying to contain me and constrain me from speaking more about whatever it was I was trying to say. I was initially shocked and confused.

I remember saying, “Why are you grabbing me? No one grabs me and touches me like that! My father never even grabbed and touched me like that. What makes you think you can?”

Instead of him standing back and recognizing what he had done and that it was wrong, this 18-year-old boy began to cry. Sob. Stories of his childhood abuse at the hands of his father came rushing to the surface, spilling out of him. They seemed to never end.

Being locked in a closet for hours and sometimes days. Witnessing his father beat his mother until she bled. Witnessing his brother being terrorized. Being beaten senselessly with a belt or a bat or a pot or a pan…whatever his father had handy.

I cringed. My emotions oscillated from anger to shear disillusionment as I listened attentively to his accounts. I didn’t know how to soothe him other than to hug him and tell him that I was sorry that he went through what he went through.

I tried the best any ignorant 18-year-old woman could try. One would think he would welcome my attempts to soothe him by hugging me back or with a “Thank you” or a “I’m glad I can talk to someone about this.” No. My attempts were not met with humility. Rather, they were met with contempt and with anger and violence:

“You think you’re so special and smart and good. You’re nothing! You don’t know how easy you’ve had it. You have no idea what I have been through. Don’t pretend to understand!”

And the pushing and the shoving commenced, which, over a short period of time, eventually led to smothering, kicking, attempting to break bones, and threatening me with a loaded gun.

Why? For what purpose? How did hurting me, beating me up and shaming me help take away his pain and suffering? An eye for an eye?

Again, I felt shock mixed with fear and pity. I wasn’t recognizing that this person was taking out his hurt and pain on me. I kept thinking I could help him and make some sort of difference in his life. Model love and care. I wasn’t seeing that this victim of childhood abuse was now becoming the perpetrator of violence against me, an innocent young girl who desperately wanted to understand him and to see him free from his pain.

Instead of telling my mother or even my younger sister, I kept his secrets inside while shameful secrets of my own were forming. I made the mistake, 24 years ago, of trying to make sense of the senseless. Little did I know, my attempts were in vain and would chip away at my self-love and self-worth and lead to my own self-destruction.

To be continued…

Never Forget the Sociopath’s Rage

bear_cubIn all relationships–intimate, business, familial, platonic–the sociopath MUST be in control.

The moment the sociopath loses control of someone he once controlled, that person will be vilified and torn down by the sociopath.

The sociopath will assassinate the person’s character in subtle and overt ways.

His audience will be a bit shocked by the sociopath’s sudden dislike and criticism of people the sociopath once SEEMED to revere:

“He is suffering from serious depression. What should I do? Should I say something to his family? He’s going to hurt himself!” (feigned concern)

“She is so unattractive. Look at her eyes. They’re so close together. And her body. She really thinks she’s hot and she’s not.” (projection of the sociopath’s body image issues)

“They’re nothing but a family of show offs. They are so arrogant and think they are better than everyone around them.” (more projection revealing how he compares his own family to others leading to deep jealousy)

“He’s dead to me!” (ease of discard regardless of how long a person was part of the sociopath’s life)

And if the sociopath can convince his audience to agree, the sociopath is happy. His supply is replenished, and the sociopath feels fulfilled.

(Imagine being fulfilled and happy at destroying another person’s reputation and convincing others that another person is unworthy of consideration? That’s evil. That’s darkness.)

But if the sociopath’s audience disagrees and questions the sociopath’s opinion and criticism, the sociopath instantly becomes incensed and the explosive rage begins:

“You disagree with me? Get out! Get the f*ck out! You whore. You bastard!”

Then the sociopath either throws you outside or silent treatment commences.

Seriously. What evolved and intelligent and reasonable and prudent person responds to simple questions by a loved one in such a way?

An evolved, intelligent, reasonable and prudent person DOESN’T react in such a way.

Regardless of how calm the sociopath appears when all is going in the sociopath’s favor, don’t ever forget that rage. Don’t underestimate the destructive power of the rage that bubbles and churns beneath the sociopath’s cool exterior. It only takes a simple denial to ignite the sociopath’s rage.

Why poke the bear when you know it’s a bear?

Namaste!
~Paula

(image source: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/41658365272847383/)

How to detach from toxic when you can’t walk away from it

suffering_attachmentDon’t you just cringe when someone reacts to your negative reaction to their negative behavior and treatment by saying, “It’s your choice. I’m not making you feel the way you feel.”

Of course, it’s our choice! It’s also our nature to be social creatures, to seek love and companionship and to give as much as we receive.

Unfortunately, we don’t always invite people into our lives who hold these same simple, humane values.

There are people among us who lack all respect for the opinions, value and existence of others. They are deplete of a conscience and are unable to empathize fully.

These people, without a doubt, are the main source of suffering and pain in our lives and the lives of all they touch.

What do we do about these people who refuse to be accountable for their behaviors and how their behaviors affect others?

The best choice we can make when it comes to people who have proven to us, over time, that they are toxic is to detach from those people.

Sometimes detachment seems a difficult endeavor, especially if that person is a family member, significant other or a boss.

But we can at least detach from the influence a particular toxic person has over our thinking until the time comes that we can finally walk away.

Recommendation #1: Accept that this person does not respect you as an individual.

You have a million interactions and experiences with this person to prove he/she is toxic. In addition to your gut, you have tangible proof that serves as your validation. Do you really need more proof?

Recommendation #2: Accept that you are viewed by this person as having a specific role that somehow benefits this person. You will never be more than the limited role that has been defined for you by this person.

Examples of roles: a wife, a wife-mother, a husband, a husband-dad, a secretary, a subordinate, a barista, etc.

You are NOT a human with unlimited abilities and potential in the eyes of this toxic person. Don’t fight to change that. It will just make you lose your mind.

You didn’t define the role; you can’t change the role.

Recommendation #3: Cease valuing or being affected, positively or negatively, by the opinions and false projections of this person.

If this person is your husband/wife and praises you when you act the part your role demands, resist the urge to allow that praise to define your worth. Why? Because the negative feedback and criticism is just around the corner, and you’ll go from feeling euphoric about yourself to feeling like shit again. Who can remain sane teetering daily between thinking such extremes about one’s worth?

Recommendation #4: Despite this person’s repeated criticisms of you in his/her attempt to minimize you, do not ruminate on them.

Instead, realize that no one is perfect but that we all have areas in which we can grow and improve. Consider the criticism as something temporary about yourself not as an absolute. The toxic person who mentioned it to you mentioned it in order to deflate you, not in hopes you’d correct or change, despite the fact he/she demanded, “You need to stop doing that!!”

Use this person’s ugliness and hatred to your advantage and set out to improve yourself. The person will not see it coming and will become considerably fearful of you and threatened by your abilities. And these fears will trigger increased criticisms from and increased praises by the toxic person.

(How ironic!)

Try remembering “Recommendation #3” and refrain from allowing this person to affect your self-worth. Once you do that, you’ve re-entered the cycle of pain and suffering, which will thwart all of your previous plans to get a divorce, find a new job or whatever it was you were planning in hopes of severing all ties to this toxic person.

Recommendation #5: Above all, don’t feel guilty about not liking someone who isn’t the least bit likable. Its called setting boundaries and preserving your dignity.

We have one life to live. Make the most of who you are by surrounding yourself with people who make the most of you and your mutual relationship. 

Detaching from toxic takes time, effort and patience. But it’s so worth it!

Namaste!
~Paula

(image source: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/7740630582685859/)

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