How to Recover from Sociopathic Abuse with a Mindful Approach to Online Pages and Groups

marianne williamson quoteIf you’re reading this, you probably supplement your healing and recovery from sociopathic abuse using Facebook or blogs in some capacity.

Over the last 30 months, the people, pages and private groups I trust, like, follow and learn from have changed and evolved as my healing and outlook changed and evolved. Pages I religiously picked over 12 months ago are no longer the same pages I pick over today.

It’s not that I don’t value those pages or groups anymore. On the contrary. Those pages and groups served me well, and I wouldn’t be where I am today without them.

You see, this journey to find our peace after sociopathc abuse consists of stages. In order to naturally progress in our healing, we must be able to recognize when it’s time to move from one stage to the next stage. Sometimes it happens naturally. But sometimes we stay in one stage longer than another, or we fail to realize we need to move on and end up getting stuck in a certain stage.

The following are the stages I have entered, so far, in my healing journey:

1. Confusion (12 months) Upon escaping the boy in my story, I was desperately confused. I knew that the relationship was toxic while in it, because I suffered great anxiety, depression and self-destructive behaviors. Yet, even after leaving and taking a step back to look at the relationship from the outside in, I struggled with making sense of what happened and dove deeper into depression and self-loathing. I thought exiting the relationship would bring me immediate peace; instead, it just made me more confused and doubtful.

2. Awareness of Sociopaths (3 months) While depressed, drinking to self-soothe on occasion and seeing a counselor regularly, I began independent research and study into personality disorders and bipolar disorder. I didn’t begin this research because I thought my abuser (the boy in my story) was mentally unstable. I began my research because my abuser told me I was mentally unstable, and I needed to understand what it was about me that I needed to change. Within a few short weeks of reading and digesting information and taking online tests and asking my psychiatrist pointed questions about this disorder or that disorder, I came to the conclusion that in my research into personality disorders, I was not learning about myself but about my abuser.

Don’t get me wrong. In this early stage, I was clearly unstable. I was. And I was fully aware of it. I had no trust in my abilities to think or rationalize clearly or with any effectiveness. However, I thankfully realized that I was not as severely broken as the boy in my story would have liked me to believe. And this realization led to the next stage.

3. Anger and Denial (5 months) I was pissed. I was angry at myself and angry at my ex. I oscillated between absolutely believing my ex was a monster to denying that sociopaths really existed. This oscillation caused so much confusion and frustration. I was so angry, but I didn’t want to be angry and sought various outlets for my anger.

My blog writing picked up momentum and so did my yoga practice. I did a 30-day yoga challenge and was determined to dump the anger in anyway I could. It wasn’t a healthy choice, however. I was forcing it when I should have been more gentle and mindful with myself. I was not reaching out for the help I needed. and I was still self-soothing with booze, which resulted in a serious alcohol-related setback. I reached the lowest, yet highest point of my anger and discovered I suffered from post traumatic stress but was too ashamed to talk about it. So I kept writing and trying to purge my anger. It worked to a degree, but I still found myself frustrated and angry at myself for my inability to fix myself. Daily, I found myself wishing and hoping for my ex and his family to die from self-implosion. My anger was not controlled nor was it healthy. But, today, I see that it was necessary to reach the next stage.

4. Acceptance and Self-Focused Healing (ongoing) – Being angry just got old, and my body and mind asked me to please stop and to focus on the rest of my life. I took an inventory of my life and the people in it. I deconstructed myself in order to reconstruct and build a new self. I could never go back to who I was before the sociopath. Never. But I also wanted to be better than I was before.

I began to value my skills and abilities and my worth in an amazing and profound way. I journeyed into discovering my faith and spirituality. I let go of many, many material things from my toxic relationship that I recognized were burdening me: photographs, gifts from the boy, clothing worn while in the toxic relationship, emails, texts, voicemails, and letters and cards. I purged myself of the love affair completely. It was difficult, because I still have love letters from boys I dated in high school and early college. Being sentimental has it’s disadvantages when the other half of a love relationship is pathologically disordered. I kept writing on my blog but my writing became more hopeful, less angry and more uplifting. (Well, at least that was my hope.)

These were and continue to be my stages of healing. Yours are surely different but with overlapping similarities.If you are active on Facebook and on pages and in groups, keep in mind that each stage requires us to absorb and focus on different kinds of support and information available across many different kinds of pages and groups.

I had to let go of people and pages and groups as I became more and more aware and progressed in my healing. Unfortunately, I held onto some pages and groups for too long in some cases. But, eventually, I recognized how I was becoming stagnant in my mind, knowledge and everyday life. Removing myself and discovering the next stage of support was not me being fickle. It didn’t go against my ability to be loyal. I was and have continued to be loyal to myself when it comes to moving and growing.

This is YOUR healing. No one else’s. Don’t allow anyone to tell you what you can and can not say, do or think. If you are an active participant in your healing, you are the master of your healing. You are the center of your learning and evolution.

No page, page creator or group facilitator has all of the information you need at exactly the right time and stage that you need it.

The moment you start feeling you’re no longer benefiting from a page (including this page), hide it from your feed and go in search of a page that speaks to where you are now. Don’t even bother saying goodbye. Really. Just silently and gracefully walk away.

Your first priority is to you. Be selfish for a change. If others are actively participating in their healing and recovery, they’ll understand in time if they don’t understand in the moment.

Peace and namaste!

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

5 Tips to Keep Online Support from Being Non-Supportive

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Many of us have turned to online support groups and blogs to help guide us through our understanding, healing and recovery from pathological relationships. They are wonderful places to meet wonderful people. I for one credit the help I have received from virtual strangers as my biggest support tool over the past year.

However, there have been some encounters and hiccups along the way, and I just wanted to share a few tips that have helped me navigate away from pages, sites, groups and even individuals that are counter to progressive healing:

1. Enter private groups with zero expectations.
Even if you were invited by a “real” friend or long-time virtual friend, private groups are not a one-size fits all. Dip your toe in. Be cautious. Feel out and read past posts and comments. If there is something triggering, you may want to remove yourself from the group. No one SHOULD get offended. After all, you know yourself better than anyone else.

2. Never let anyone tell you how you should be feeling.
We spent far too long dealing with a pathological partner telling us how we SHOULD think or feel. We don’t need people or groups devaluing us, too. If you comment about how you feel or what you’re thinking and you immediately receive a response like, “You shouldn’t feel or think X,Y,and Z,” remove yourself from the group or step away from the page. If it’s the administrator of the page who is trying to offer you advice on how you SHOULD be feeling, that’s a red flag that the owner of the page may be stuck or pathological themselves.

3. Never measure your progress and recovery against that of another.
It’s very common to meet someone online who seems exactly like you. That person’s experience mirrors yours almost down to the pet names your exes used to call you. You feel connected (FINALLY!) and understood. You start comparing your progress with her progress. Doing this often results in self-judgment. You might feel inadequate if you think she’s moving forward faster than you. Or you might even start judging your friend and think she’s not moving fast enough. We all have varying and complex coping mechanisms. Some of us cycle through emotions faster than others. A person who seems “stuck” may just be a bit more cautious in moving forward. Someone who appears “healed” may be hiding their doubts. Which leads to #4…

4. Online support should NEVER replace other professional services.
Professional counseling and support outside of the virtual world is often necessary and essential for some one in recovery. No matter how much you think the online group is helping you more than offline professional services, don’t be too hasty in dropping your counselor.

5. Above all, listen to Your Gut.
We hear this a lot, because we were so bad at listening to ourselves while in the pathological relationship. Instead of waiting to test your gut in your next romantic relationship, start using it in all of your relationships, especially in online support groups. If a person seems to contradict themselves or you feel a page administrator or group facilitator is hindering you or trying to control you, you’re probably correct. Not everyone who creates a page or group is doing it for good reasons. Some page creators are doing it for selfish and ego-boosting reasons. It’s a harsh reality but a very true one. Don’t feel obligated to continue a relationship or friendship with someone if your gut is telling you to break the ties.

Have a great weekend! Namaste! ~Paula

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