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)

Sociopaths and Legal Abuse – Part 1: What is their motivation?

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One of the vital catalysts which finally led me to escape the boy in my story was a simple threat he uttered within minutes of me telling him I was pregnant:

“I will see to it that you never hold that baby. I will see to it that a judge deems you too unfit to be a mother. I’ll take that baby right out of your arms and you’ll NEVER see it again.”

Some may read those words above and think it was just something a person says in the heat of an argument and that one REALLY wouldn’t do that to a mother/father of a child.

Others who know what sociopaths are capable of probably felt the knives and needles going up and down and through your body as you read those words, because you’ve personally heard those words (or words like them), and you know it’s imperative to take them seriously.

How did I know, not really knowing at the time that the boy was a sociopath, that his words were not an empty threat?

Because I had witnessed the lengths he’d go to using our legal/court system to get his way…to win at all costs.

Case #1

The boy in my story built a detached garage with an attached mother-in-law suit in his back yard. The permit he obtained prohibited him from running sewage lines to that garage. In order to do something like that, an inspection and re-assessment of his property for tax purposes would be required, requiring the boy to spend money in an honest and forthright manner.

But instead of spending the necessary time and resources to legally run a sewage line from his home to the detached garage/apartment, the boy hired a guy (about as shady as the boy), who owned and operated a mini-backhoe, to dig a hole for him at a deep discount.

Well, the guy he hired to dig the hole left in the middle of the job and left behind a big mess.

Instead of the boy realizing his shortcut led to this unfortunate karma, the boy decided to take the guy to court to get his money back.

TO GET MONEY BACK HE SPENT ON AN ILLEGAL ENDEAVOR!

I made a vain attempt to talk him out of going through with the suit. To me, it didn’t seem worth the effort to waste a judge’s time with such a small claim. The sociopath kept telling me it was the principle of the matter.

(Whatever, right?)

Not surprisingly, the sociopath was granted victory in court. However, the neighbor guy refused to pay him. What does the sociopath do? He sues the guy’s mother, because the house in which the guy lived was owned by his mother!

(It’s the principle, right? Pfft!)

Fast forward to a few court appearances later, the judge denies the sociopath his request to get the money from the guy’s mother.

(Thank God for small miracles.)

However, I never allowed the sociopath’s blind rage and determination to destroy this guy and his mother leave my mind. If he could go as far as trying to hurt a woman he didn’t even know and had nothing to do with what her son did, the sociopath could hurt anyone, in my opinion.

Case #2

Before trying to move me into his house, the boy in my story ended an engagement and kicked out his fiancée. I learned a few months later that he and his ex-fiancée had purchased an investment property together, a small, one-bedroom apartment in Northern Virginia in the DC Metro area.

How did I learn about this?

The father of the ex-fiancée, the boy’s almost father in law, contacted the boy asking him for his share of the mortgage payments on the apartment, which the boy had failed to pay for three consecutive months.

Needless to say, the evening of the email receipt, the sociopath was livid and was screaming that he would continue to refuse to pay. The sociopath told me the apartment was his ex-fiancée’s idea, not his. He said she only wanted it for status and to tell her friends she had an investment property. A status symbol of sorts.

(Again, whatever!)

He kept repeating to me that her name was on the mortgage, his was not, and that the only reason he had agreed to pay half was because they were getting married. As far as he was concerned, upon ending the engagement, paying the mortgage was HER problem, not his.

He kept saying, “It’s hers. She wanted it. It’s hers.”

Initially, I agreed with his argument for not paying and was convinced that it was her issue. Plus, the fact she had her father, a lawyer, contact him seemed like a strong-arm move on her part. Why couldn’t he talk to him herself? Why couldn’t she ask for his to pay his share? Why did she have to have her father intervene?

(I know now why she had her father intervene. She was smart. She was practicing “no contact” long before I even knew what that was and why it worked.)

After further probing and investigation on my part, the sociopath finally revealed that his name was on the title!

(Really? It took him several hours to tell me that very important detail? Light bulbs went off, and his ex-fiancée was looking more like a victim to me and less like a woman going to “Daddy” to bail her out of a financial bind. The boy was looking more and more creepy to me, and this was early in the toxic relationship!)

I said to him, “You can’t have your cake and eat it too. It’s only fair that you continue paying half. It’s the right and ethical thing to do. Your only other option is to sign a quit claim deed to remove your name from the title.”

How did the sociopath respond?

He said, “I need you do draw up an email for me to send to her father to make it look like it’s my idea to sign a quit claim deed.”

(Of course, I blindly agreed. Shame on me!)

The sociopath would have bantered back and forth forever with the father of the ex-fiancée. But I gave him a solution that made it look like he won, when, in fact, the ex-fiancée and her family won–they were able to quietly detach completely from the sociopath’s ugliness.

Sociopaths do not stop until they think they’ve won. They’re delusional and motivated by hate, greed and a need to control you!

Part 2: The lengths a sociopath will go to abuse you in a custody battle.

(Image source: http://media-cache-ec0.pinimg.com/1200x/2d/bb/71/2dbb71b17f67d46662290af2e8bc2b38.jpg)

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/)

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)

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…

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/)

We Can’t Break the Sociopath’s Cycle, but We Can Break Our Own

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Many of us were pushed by the sociopath into believing we were the one with the serious mental defect. The sociopath would go as far as telling us that we were bi-polar or suffered from borderline personality disorder.

The boy in my story went as far as visiting a counselor, not to figure out himself, but to figure out ME! Here is an actual excerpt from an e-mail the boy sent to me after I left the relationship the second time:

“When was the last time someone went to therapy in order to better understand you, what is happening to you? When is the last time someone in your life went to therapy to Better understand depression and alcoholism to better understand you? Paula, why would anyone want a relationship with someone that has said the things you have? Done the things you have done? Love? Because I want to be in your life? Help you in all this? Be a friend to lean on?”

Keep in mind that this message came to me after I had left the relationship…for the second time…and had not asked for his help on my way out.

Like most sociopaths, the boy was a King at pointing out all of my failings and weakness (some justly so), but most of his finger-pointing tantrums were cowardice displays of his own projections and insecurities.

Not once did I begin arguments by calling him names, telling him he was a loser, telling him he needed counseling or telling him he was not a good person.

All I ever asked from him (and justly deserved) was for my feelings and opinions to be fully considered, not just brushed aside as the ramblings of some “mentally ill” woman who was confused, as he liked to call me.

Confused?

I am convinced that only someone who is disordered and without a conscience or ability to empathize could ever project so much onto a supposed ‘loved one’ as to accuse that ‘loved one’ of being disordered.

Accusing us of being disordered is how the sociopath continues to successfully deflect his/her blame and accountability for the relationship’s high toxicity levels.

The sociopath repeats to him/herself:

“If I can prove to her that she’s sick, I can prove my actions are justified and were only taken to help her come to her senses. My senses are completely and utterly intact and 100% healthy. I do not need to change a thing about myself. She’s the one with the issues. I can convince her of that. Just watch me!”

And in partial defense of the sociopath, I believe we absolutely and without question appear bi-polar or borderline to the sociopath.

The sociopath is a victim, a victim of our desire to remain free and independent in our thoughts and actions.

The sociopath expects us to be his/her puppet, and when we refuse to be manipulated, we are viewed as out-of-control and sick.

We do not think as the sociopath wants us to think so the sociopath concludes: “She MUST be crazy!!”

But there was/is nothing crazy or disordered about us. Most of us never stepped foot into a counselor’s office prior to our dalliances with a sociopath. Before these fools entered our lives, the majority of us had manageable issues. Issues, yes. But relatively minor ones.

The sociopath interpreted us as behaving out-of-control and crazy-like when we were simply reacting normally to the prospect of being caged and enslaved by the sociopath.

Who doesn’t react with passion, emotions, refusal and legs kicking when being pushed, shackled and dragged down a rabbit hole?

Sociopaths can not be bothered with the unpredictability of another’s independence. It’s too messy and complicated for them, and it interferes with their free will and plans.

We must be contained…somehow.

One way is by the sociopath proving to us that we are ill and that the sociopath is the only person who can save us from ourselves. Once convinced, we lose our independence and rely on the sociopath to fix us.

And what does fixing us look like?

>> Punishing us for having independent thoughts.

>> Alienating us from our friends and family.

>> Hospitalizing us or calling the police on us for our “uncontrollable” outbursts.

>> Secretly calling our mothers/fathers/best friends and feigning concern.

>> Secretly calling our counselors or sponsors to “tell on us” or make sure we’re remaining in line.

>> Shaming and belittling us so we lose total and complete confidence to act independent of the sociopath.

>> Sabotaging even small independent efforts by refusing to relinquish control.

This type of “fixing” sends us into a deeper pit of despair and cognitive dissonance. We lose sight of ourselves. Become more depressed. Seek ways to self-medicate. Hide our real issues until those issues are bigger issues, bigger than elephants that could ever possibly find a corner in which to hide!

Suddenly, we find ourselves in real need of anti-depressants, hospitalization and interventions.

Suddenly we find ourselves saying, “OMG!!! The sociopath was right all along. I am crazy. I do need help. Thank goodness he was here to inform me. Thank goodness!”

Unbeknownst to you and at your lowest low, you fail to realize that all of the parts of yourself you sacrificed and shared with the sociopath, the sociopath exploited and used against you to lead you down the dark path you now find yourself. The path of complete dependence and complete despair.

And what happens in the moment that you find yourself in need of real help? The sociopath no longer wants to help you. You are nothing to the sociopath. You’re useless, used up and disposable. The sociopath wonders why he ever bothered caring about you in the first place. What a waste you became!

The sociopath’s only option is to toss you aside, refuse to acknowledge he ever had any type of association with you and to go off and discover someone else to be his host.

You truly become dead to him despite all you sacrificed and gave. The sociopath will even delete/burn/discard all remnants of your pathetic existence from his life, so the next host/victim/supply knows nothing of who you once were.

With each new partner, the sociopath’s slate is magically and effortlessly wiped clean. The next victim becomes the soul mate/the one like no one else the sociopath has ever met.

And the grooming begins. The charm is reset. The chameleon once again adapts and changes to match and mirror the lifestyle of his new target. And there will be the temporary envy from those in the sociopath’s new circle.

(But only temporarily. The rabbit hole follows alongside the sociopath, waiting quietly and patiently.)

Soon enough, the new victim will voice an opinion counter to the sociopath’s and the gaslighting and manipulation will commence.

Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

And the new victim will find herself torn between understanding what she had grown to believe about herself and her values and what the sociopath projects as being the fallacy in how she perceives herself and those values.

She’ll begin entrusting the sociopath with her everyday responsibilities, because the sociopath claims he wants to help her relieve artificial stress so she can focus on healing from her deep-seated issues.

(Let me tell you, this new victim is even more crazy that the last one!! Poor girl. It’s like the sociopath was born to help people or something, always finding the most sick among us to heal and help. What a saint that sociopath is!)

Out of the kindness of his heart, the sociopath allows his name to be added to her checking account, just in case deposits or payments need made and she’s not well enough to do it herself.

She’ll allow him to tell her what she should or shouldn’t be eating or where and when or how much exercise she should be doing.

She’ll add him to her emergency contact list and HIPAA release with her doctors and counselors.

(The sociopath does not deserve this much power and control over anyone’s life, but it’s given up freely!)

The sociopath is a con artist that continues to magnify his new victim’s known weaknesses by inflating her microscopic foibles, convincing her that she is one big messed up mass of humanity and only the sociopath understands, only the sociopath has the tools to fix her!

And fix her, he sure as hell will.

The sociopath will use every detail about her health and wellness to destroy her self-love, her self-respect and her independence.

Then she’ll find herself on a page like this trying to make sense of it all.

But you know what?

No matter how much was taken from her, no matter how lost she became, and no matter that she lost all dignity and grace, she will emerge stronger, more beautiful and more in love with life than ever before!

Just as you will. Just as you have.

Don’t take my word for it. Trust in your desire and determination to not be defeated by the most despicable creature that exists: The Sociopath.

When you rise from the ashes of your sociopath experience, you will discover life has limitless possibilities and your skills are too many to count.

Cherish your skills. Nurture your skills. Share your skills.

The one skill you will use and cherish the most is your skill to remain graceful under the pressure from those pesky sociopaths and their pushy determination to convince you that you have no skills.

What a bunch of kooks those silly sociopaths are! The joke is on them, because we’re aware of the one-sided games they play, and we aren’t interested in being duped anymore. ❤

Namaste!
~Paula

(Image source: http://megshouse.org/abuse-recovery-games-program/)

Shifting gears and getting down to more awareness business

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Thanks to many factors and revelations over the course of several years, my life has come full circle, and it’s heading into another orbit as I write.

I feel stronger and more confident today than I’ve ever felt in my life.

I’m no longer the frustrated and fearful person who lacks the confidence to speak up when I initially feel the urge to speak up:

1. If I don’t want to do something, I’ll let you know now. I won’t wait until I’m in the middle of doing it and break down angry and upset for having been “forced” to participate.

2. If I don’t appreciate how someone is speaking/addressing me, I’ll let them know, mid-sentence if necessary.

3. If I sense someone is not being truthful, I’ll ask for clarification on the spot, in the moment.

4. If I like you, I’ll tell you.

5. If I don’t like you, I’ll tell you but only because I don’t want you wasting your time thinking I like you.

6. If you tell me you like me, I’ll let you know how thankful and grateful it makes me feel.

7. If you tell me you don’t like me, I’ll respect your reason and try to learn from any mistake I made that led you to your opinion of me.

Some will recognize this list as an example of how I plan to use and maintain my boundaries. I’d agree.

However, boundaries mean nothing if there isn’t a solid foundation of self-acceptance. My foundation, I must admit, is still wobbly. It’s not as earthquake-proof as I’d like it to be.

I feel like the boundaries I have built are quite vulnerable considering I struggle sometimes accepting who I am and where I’ve been.

This blog and the support I get from it have definitely contributed to a more stable foundation, but I can’t rely on this blog alone to reach a higher level of self-acceptance.

Fortunately, I have devised a plan (sounds good on paper!) that might help me reach the level of self-acceptance that my beloved family and friends deserve for me to have.

The first part of my plan is to say “Good-bye” to JUST writing about sociopaths. I started this blog before I ever believed in sociopaths (hehe!), but I admit my experience with a sociopath definitely propelled the popularity of this space.

(I doubt the growth of my blog traffic had much to do with my grasp of grammar or my writing style as much as it had to do with the morbid curiosity surrounding the subject matter of Sociopaths, Psychopaths and Narcissists…oh my!)

It’s the simple truth: The sociopath writing I publish gets more people to my blog and allows me to interact with more people than if, instead, I wrote a blog with a focus on…yoga!

If you have been following this blog for awhile, you will remember that I tried transforming the focus and attempted to transition away from writing about sociopaths a few months ago. Fulfilling this desire (and letting go) has proven to be one of my greatest challenges, regardless of all the yoga I’ve done.

“Just let it go, Paula. You can do this,” I keep telling myself.

How do I let go of something that has brought me so much cathartic healing? That has introduced me to a world of knowledge I never knew needed to be known or passed along? That has provided me with more love and friendships than I ever dreamed would be a possibility?

Plus, I am human, and I like the attention. I like the interaction. I like the validation.

But I also recognize that trying to increase my blog hits each month, to help everyone who comments and to respond timely and accurately to everyone who contacts me privately was causing me some stress, anxiety and took away from my ability to help myself and continue to grow and succeed.

I was stupidly putting too much pressure on myself to be more than I am capable of being.

What am I capable of?

I can write, and I am willing to share. I write blog posts about my experience with someone I believe is pathological, highly narcissistic and sociopathic. I write about how I’ve fallen flat and how I found the faith and courage to continue despite accepting the ugliness of my past. I can also write on many more interesting topics, too.

What am I not capable of?

I can’t be responsible for guiding everyone in the right direction who asks for my help. I wish I could, but I am not a counselor. I can’t help everyone with just words who privately contacts me. I don’t have a magic pill or solution.

Because I have learned healthy boundaries, I recognized how I was allowing my blog to control and dictate my sense of worth and accomplishment. So I took a healthy break the last few months from writing as prolifically as I had been writing. I took that time to map out some goals and determine how I’d like to challenge myself in the coming months and years.

I don’t want to let anyone down by pulling away from my original subject matter, but I’m antsy to go to new places and explore new possibilities, in my writing, my life and my relationships.

>> I want to write more for my Washington Times Communities column on relationships, yoga and health, all from a mindful perspective. I’ve been more fearful to put myself out there, up to this point, on such a public forum as opposed to my personal blog space. It’s safe here. It’s not there.

>> I want to dedicate more time to my anatomy and yoga studies, so I can be fully confident and ready to teach the students who could benefit from my experience at the time I earn my 200-hour yoga teacher training certification later this year. I want to teach yoga to trauma patients and volunteer to teach yoga in community corrections and shelters.

>> I want to dedicate more time to editing all of the personal abuse stories submitted to me last year, so the second book I publish is one we can all be proud to pass on to our family and friends and strangers in need.

>> I want to highlight more success stories on my blog. I think this community reads enough about struggles; we deserve some feel-good pieces with more focus on aftermath success.

>> I want to organize a conference (no matter how small or cramped) that will bring us all together in a room, so we can give each other real hugs and not just virtual ones! (((Hugs)))

All of these things require time, organization and dedication. I believe 2014 is going to be a time of further assessment.

But I also sense 2014 will be the year the global foundation surrounding the importance of narcissist and sociopath awareness becomes more solid, making all of us better positioned, emotionally and mentally, to stand proud and spread awareness about emotional abuse wider than just our blogs, Twitter feeds or Facebook pages.

Regardless of what I write and share on my blog moving forward, whatever it is it’s most certainly related to how I continue to mindfully heal and grow.

My life is consumed and driven by the desire to never stop growing.

And I’m not just talking about healing and growing from the toxic relationship in which I found myself with the sociopath. I’m also referring to healing and growing from years of not thinking I was good enough.

I want to share all of the good stuff I learn with you in hopes you’ll continue sharing your successes and periodic struggles with this community.

I’ve been too fearful to be me in the past. Thanks to this community (which is continuously growing!) I am ready to spread my wings and take a few risks. What do I have to lose?!? What do any of us have to lose!?!?

Namaste!
~Paula

(Image source: http://blogs.worldbank.org/psd/shifting-gears-capitalism-and-the-logic-of-competitive-industries)

Feigning care: The Sociopath’s dirtiest trick

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I think the worst thing a person can do is pretend to care about us just to learn our secrets.

Sociopaths are masters at feigning concern.

They see us cry or become upset or emotionally withdrawn and desperately ask, “What’s wrong? You can tell me.”

And because we’re trusting and would never pretend to care about someone we recognize is hurting, we assume the sociopath before us (not realizing he/she is a sociopath) shares our same values and ethics. We open up and spill our guts never suspecting we’re sharing our soul with evil.

The sociopath only asks because knowing our pain makes him/her feel more superior. Knowing our weaknesses empowers the sociopath’s delusions further.

How? Why?

Well, a sociopath is unable to be introspective and recognize his/her own foibles as weaknesses. So when we open up about our weaknesses, the sociopath’s ego inflates. When the sociopath says, “Tell me more,” the sociopath is really saying, “Tell me more, so I can feel even more superior about myself.”

To a sociopath, being human is viewed as tasteless and messy. Of course, a sociopath would never admit to this because a sociopath thinks he/she is a superhuman and above even commenting on the state of the rest of us lowly beings.

(It makes me laugh thinking how stupid these fools really are about love and life. I think I laugh, because I’m deplete of tears crying over them.)

The sociopath’s fake concern is despicable and can cause many of us who have fallen prey to their fake concern to fear sharing or speaking out in the future.

I know I am guilty of bottling up my sorrows for fear I would be judged as the sociopath judged me. It took a great leap of faith to finally say, “No more!” to being silent.

But the fear never goes away. The fear of being misunderstood or appearing “less than” creeps in regardless of all the work we do to build our confidence and self-esteem.

The reality is that we are all subject to judgement and rejection every time we open our mouths and talk to other human beings.

Luckily, the percentage of caring people greatly out numbers the percentage of jerks in this world. So speaking and sharing is a chance I am willing to take, regardless of the fact that the personal demons and secrets I’ve shared in recent years have been used against me many times and not just by the boy in my story.

I’ve trusted too soon and/or trusted the wrong people.

It happens.

But those who prove they really care always offer advice, support and guidance. They never just sit their basking in the delight of knowing my private thoughts and biggest fears. And people who really care don’t judge me or try telling me I’m a sinner and should have done X, Y and Z instead. And they don’t run off and tell everybody what I shared in private.

Take inventory of the folks in your life who you’ve learned to trust or not to trust. Don’t continue to share with those who have clearly betrayed your trust. But never forget those who clearly respect your struggles and always seem to be there ready to listen.

When meeting new people, keep the conversation light and don’t share too much too soon. Your gut will help guide you. Just listen to it.

And never be like the sociopath and pretend you care about the sociopath’s struggles when you really don’t. We don’t have to care about what the sociopath does or becomes just because we think caring will make us better people. It’s probably better that we don’t care, keeping THAT door to hell closed forever! 🙂

Namaste!
~Paula

(Image source: http://imgfave.com/view/3642089)

What I Learned from Living Through Hell – The Narcissist Slayer Award and Nominees

Narcissist Slayer Award - Paula's PontificationsI’m a Narcissist Slayer. Narc Slayer for short. I know several other Narc Slayers. I bet you do, too.

Roughly two (2) years ago when I started actively writing on this blog about my experience with the boy in my story, I never imagined that one day I would be awarded with a Narc Slayer Award. But that day has arrived, and I couldn’t be more thrilled.

Kim, the very talented and insightful blogger over at Let me Reach with Kim Saeed, presented me (along with ten (10) other bloggers/Narc Slayers) with this honor on December 13. Thank you, Kim!

Check out her full post and the others she awarded.

Like all blog awards, I have a responsibility as a recipient. I must:

1. Thank the person who nominated me and link back to them. CHECK!

2. Place the award logo on my blog. CHECK!

3. Write a blog post and nominate other blogs for the award – there is no minimum or maximum number of blogs required to nominate. CHECK!

>> Deliberate Donkey

>> My Abandoned Self ©

>> Madeline Scribes

4. Inform my nominees on their site that I have chosen them for the honor. CHECK!

5. Share one positive thing I took away from my relationship with the Narcissist.

Well, crap! I can do 1 – 4 with relative ease. But #5 stings my eyes just reading the words. Something positive? Other than the fact that going through hell has given me a greater appreciation for all of the beautiful people and encounters I experience on a daily basis, the positives are best described as things I have learned as a result of the toxic relationship:

I learned how NOT to live and navigate this world.

I learned that I may make mistakes, but those mistakes do not have to define who I am forever and eternity. I’m allowed to change and be better without constant and repeated shaming.

I learned that love has always been abundantly present in my life. I was just too stupid and blind to recognize and appreciate it. (I love you, George!)

I learned that loving with my whole heart is possible and even more fullfilling when I am with those who also love with their whole hearts.

I learned that change is possible, real change, as long as I remember that falling down doesn’t mean something’s over; it means I get a chance to try again with greater insight and understanding.

I learned that love truly is patient and kind; but in order to receive it, I must really love and value myself first.

I learned that regardless of how alone and powerless I feel when it comes to any and all challenges life throws my way, there is someone, many someones, out here who feel as I feel and desperately do not want to feel alone either.

I learned that there is strength in numbers and anything is possible if I simply have faith…faith in myself…faith in my family…faith in my friends…faith in God.

I learned that I do believe in something greater than myself and that something is with me every day as long as I never stop believing.

I learned that judgment truly is the root of evil, and that judgment of others begins when we judge ourselves. I’m finding peace in just being and not judging.

I learned that stating facts and responses to how I was treated are not judgments and that silence only encourages evil and abuse to perpetuate, grow and fester.

I learned that injustices eventually “get served” and that good truly does triumph over evil. However, unlike the drama-fueled victories depicted in movies, real-world victories are far more subtle and happen unexpectedly. There’s no applause or obnoxious cheering, but there are many silent smiles and feelings of validation and accomplishment.

Above all, I learned that patience is my best friend. (I wish I had met her sooner!)

Namaste!
~Paula

© 2014 Paula Carrasquillo and Paula’s Pontifications

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