If you’re feeling a little defeated lately…


There is no right or wrong way to heal.

There is no expected length of time it should take you to heal. It could take you weeks, months or even years to reach the peace you deserve.

Your healing and recovery is dependent on the intricate complexities of your individual personality, experiences, their duration, and the intensity of the harm that was inflicted upon your spirit.

Be good to yourself. Remember you matter. Remember you are not alone.


Acceptance and Feeding the Wolves

I receive letters and private emails from many readers. You share many of your feelings, stories, and fears with me. For that, I am grateful and feel blessed to have your trust.

A recurring question from many readers is:

“How do I get my abuser out of my head in order to forget and move on?”

Unfortunately, there is no easy answer. There is no definitive solution. We lived through something with someone. We can’t erase it. But I do believe there is a first step we all must take in order to recover from it:

We must accept what happened to us and realize we cannot change it or change the person who hurt us.

As a person who was able to wake up and escape my abuser before it was too late, the hurt I felt was not of having my heart-broken. Not even close. The hurt I felt in the beginning of my healing was in having trusted someone I expected would treat me with love, kindness, patience, and forgiveness. Those are basic and simple building blocks of all healthy relationships and the exact traits narcissistic sociopaths like the boy in my story lack.

My husband has those traits. My son has those traits. My mother, father, and stepfather have those traits. My sisters and brothers have those traits. My life-long friends have those traits. Therefore, my expectations that the boy would have those traits was not unrealistic. I had been conditioned to expect them from everyone, including the boy. And when they failed to flow from him, I wanted to help him grow those traits. How futile and naive! I know that and accept it now.

Acting on my co-dependent tendencies is a thing of the past. It serves no one, especially me. Why would any of us choose to try to fix another when we need to fix ourselves first? Once you accept your abuser for what he/she is, you can finally accept yourself, warts and all!

The beauty of accepting ourselves is the realization that we have complete control and power over changing those things we don’t like about ourselves and our behavior. Most importantly, we are allowed to expect better from ourselves and also expect results from our efforts to change.

I started by writing down all of the things I liked about myself. Then I jotted down all of my failings. I wanted to maintain the good in me but transform my bad habits and behaviors. I couldn’t erase my past failings and personal disappointments and setbacks related to my actions. However, I knew I could begin again. But beginning again required a thorough inventory of EVERYTHING!!

I spent many hours and weeks going back in my past and dissecting the years. I discovered too much I had tried sweeping under the rug. I had many “ah-ha” moments, and my confidence in my ability to relearn how to be myself again slowly started returning. With this confidence, I was energized to do something with my skills and talents I had suppressed for so long. (I, just me myself and I, suppressed them. It was no one’s fault but my own.)

In less than six (6) months from the time I decided to take control of my life, my writing took off. My book was published. I landed my column in The Washington Times Communities. My Facebook pages grew. I was approached by the founder and creator of My Emotional Vampire to help with their ever-increasing following. I read more and more blogs by other survivors. I lent my support to them as best I could. One Mom’s Battle asked me to contribute to the back cover of her book. I participated in fund raisers and walks.

My body and soul were being energized more and more every day thanks to my own efforts (and lots of support from my son and husband). I got myself into the mess I was in, and I was able to get myself out of it. That’s all we can do for ourselves in the end, really. Don’t you think?

Today I celebrated another birthday. My husband and son bought me a beautiful cake and two yoga calendars: one for my office and one for wherever else I need reminded of the passing of time. They also got me a dimmer switch for the light above the dining room table. (Mood lighting is VERY important!) Before leaving for work this morning, I wrote in my new journal (Thank you, Janine!) and wished for a peaceful day.

I want to end this post with a Cherokee tale I read many months ago and again last night in the last pages of the memoire Look Me in the Eye: Caryl’s Story by Caryl Wyatt and Anita le Roix:

An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life.

“A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.

“It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.” He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”

The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”


To stop the abuse, you’ll need to shed your fears of independence and loss

victory over fear An anonymous reader commented on my Emotional Abuse page this morning. I have provided part of the comment below:

I would like your opinion on abusive/emotional abused relationships (AR) which can also be classified as part of typical chronic stress. I am very curious around the following: IF such circumstances (AR) prevail to such an extent and for a very long period of time (say decades) that the brain functionality within such a victim can shutdown in the form of dementia as some type of inherent protection. I can maybe describe the situation as if the soul of such a person goes into hiding within her/his body? Usually found within a relationship of a very successful driven person, married to someone very supportive, subordinate or “slave” type of relationship. As many studies show and you stated that such a person becomes so used to AR within such a relationship that they seldom realizes the ongoing AR until the mind/brain decides for them?

I initially sensed this person was trying to make excuses for the abuser, trying to make a connection between successful people and their stress levels as a cause/reason for the abuse. Then I thought maybe the reader is talking about her own stress induced by the abuse tucked away subconsciously.

Because I am no therapist or counselor and only have my own experiences and the experiences of other survivors as resources, I worry that my answer (provided below) may be insufficient. Please provide your comments to help add more clarity for the reader.

What you describe is what happens in all situations of abuse regardless of the abuser’s success in business. The abuser could simply have a notion that he/she is successful. People who mentally, emotionally, verbally, spiritually, and physically abuse others are NOT superior humans, not evolved in any way. Somewhere along the line their ability to solve-problems using their cognitive abilities was interrupted/aborted. What they excel at is the primitive abilities to cry, manipulate, and make demands in order to guilt their victims into complying with the abuser’s needs. And their biggest need is to control their victims. It’s the ultimate goal…CONTROL.

A business man who can’t control the changing market or decisions of others WILL seek to control what and who he can control. More often than not, it’s a subservient wife, his children, his pets, or the help, just to name a few. All of these people have become dependent on the abuser financially, and the abuser WILL use that to his advantage. The victims feel helpless to act against the abuser, because the abuser has threatened the victim, made the victim believe she/he can’t survive without him. And the abuser is correct. The victim can’t survive or live as she/he has been living with the luxuries the abuser has provided.

So, the victim shuts down and goes into herself, as you describe. But this is where the lines become blurred. Who is in control and who has simply given up control? We as human beings can’t be controlled unless we allow someone to control us. It’s difficult to come to this realization when you are being beaten up on a daily basis verbally, emotional, physically, spiritually, and sexually.

As soon as we realize we want to take back control, that’s when we stop being the victim. But in shedding the victim robe, we must also be aware of the increased responsibilities associated with being independent. Being independent and responsible is not an easy position for long-time victims to transition. Most victims initially lose many things: money, possessions, friends, jobs, and possibly ties to their community and their church. The victim, not the abuser, must make all of the changes. The abuser is free to continue being just as he has always been.

It’s a frightening prospect to be faced with losing everything and be prepared for your abuser to keep reminding you of this in hopes you’ll change your mind and remain his prisoner/slave. It’s about choice. Really. And it’s about being okay with the pain of emerging from your cocoon and wanting to live with 100% accountability of what and whom you become.

I welcomed the pain, having faith that there was something much more beautiful than the hell I found myself. I hope this makes sense to you. ~Paula

If you would like to comment privately, you may send me a message through my Contact Me page.


Judgment Day and Finding Recovery: A Reader Shares her Story

TWTC story December 29, 2012

I have been a bit quiet today and need to catch up on my reader comments. (I’m not ignoring you!!) I have been busy preparing a two part story for my TWTC column, Living Inside Out Loud.

Yesterday, a reader contacted me with her story. Out of her need for safety and self preservation, she chose not to share her story publicly. I told her I would share it on my blog and in my column. She agreed!!

I hope you will read both parts, share, and comment. Her hope is to help others by sharing her story, something we all need in our healing and recovery.

Part I: Judgment Day

Part II: Finding Recovery

Deconstructing ourselves in order to discover ourselves

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is a movie, not even CLOSE to reality: An estranged couple get their minds wiped clean of all memories of each other.

How absolutely wonderful that would be, don’t you think?! On the surface, the idea of erasing all remembrances of an intimate relationship with a narcissistic sociopath seems like a beautiful solution. But not really. After all, how would we learn from the mistakes we made with the narcissistic sociopath if we can’t remember our mistakes?

Mistakes YOU made you ask? Yes. Regardless of the ambush of abuse and his over-the-top and shitty behavior, we must be accountable for our part in the toxic relationship.

Where do you begin?

The first step is to stop asking all of the “why” questions related to HIS behavior:

Why did he do that?
Why did he say those things?
Why was he so jealous?
Why did he claim I was just like him?
Why did he belittle me and my son?
Why did he hate my sisters?
Why, why, why? And on and on.

Instead, ask yourself some “why” questions related to your own behavior:

Why didn’t I speak up for myself sooner?
Why did I let him make me so angry when he said things I knew were false?
Why did I tolerate things for as long as I did?
Why did I let his harsh and vile words hurt me?
Why didn’t I listen to family and friends?
Why was I so stubborn?

Ah-ha! See the difference this makes? All of a sudden it’s no longer about him and trying to figure him out. (You couldn’t do that INSIDE of the relationship; what makes you think you can do it OUTSIDE of the relationship, silly!?)

It’s now about YOU! All eyes are on YOU!

If you want to change your behavior, you must understand your current and past behavior first. In literature, the breaking down of characters and plot and action based on the reader’s personal understanding of the words is called deconstructionism. Through the deconstruction process, the reader gets a more meaningful understanding of all of the parts and pieces that make the story happen the way it happens. Like deconstructing a story, deconstructing your own mind, thoughts, actions, reactions, and feelings, will help you understand yourself more clearly, which can lead to healthy change and growth.

During the deconstruction process, you’ll be taken to places in your past you may not want to visit: your parent’s fights, their divorce, an argument on the playground with a childhood friend, an argument with your beloved sister. But you’ll also be taken to places that you enjoy and embrace: your first kiss, your first day of college, meeting someone special, riding a rollercoaster. With each visit to the past, you’ll ask yourself more and more questions about what you felt and why you felt that way. Amazingly, you’ll find the answers but only if you stay focused on YOU, not on other “characters” in your memory. (If there is one time in your life you need to be selfish, it’s now!)

Deconstructing yourself is intimidating but such a simple thing. You will never REALLY know why someone hurt you or treated you poorly. But you will learn why you reacted the way you did and how you can keep from reacting negatively in the future. You will also become more empowered to take action and control of your life when faced with toxic people in the future.

Taking that first step outside of your current self and asking “why” can lead you to redefining yourself and living the life you were born to live.


Healing through Social Media? Yes!

Healing through Social MediaI am currently working on my next Washington Times Communities story for my column with a focus on how social media heals. If you are a regular blogger and/or reader of blogs, you know exactly what I’m talking about. You probably won’t even read my story because you don’t need to be convinced of something you already “get” and feel. (I hope you at least share the story with others once it’s published tomorrow. Nudge, nudge.) Part of the focus will include sharing influential and life-changing blogs and Facebook pages that have personally helped me heal and have helped others heal.

In late August, I was approached by the creator of one of those Facebook pages, My Emotional Vampire (MEV), to help her facilitate the MEV community, which reached over 2000 followers almost overnight! I agreed, of course, because MEV was one of the FB pages I followed and commented on religiously, and I believed in the message of MEV wholeheartedly. I asked the creator (a beautiful Canadian) to provide me with a quote for my Washington Times story, and this is what she provided:

“Have you ever been in a relationship with someone who appears to have two personalities? Jekyll and Hyde. You are his princess, and he is holding you on a pedestal. You are the love of his life, and he wants to spend the rest of his life with you. You are spoiled with flowers, love songs, loving notes and promises of forever. Then, in the next breath, he is devaluing you, accusing you of cheating, or doing or saying inappropriate things with other men that you never even met, a figment of his own imagination!! He becomes jealous, controlling and possessive. You cant help but stand in one spot, stumped and scratching your head in confusion. Who behaves this way? Certainly not someone who is of sound mind, right?!”

“I took it upon myself to research his behavior and found Borderline Personality Disorder and Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Alarm bells went off!! I was in a relationship with a Borderline who was very Narcissistic, and my safety and that of my children were very much at risk of further emotional and mental abuse.”

“I pride myself on being very analytical, and I had a strong need to understand more about these disorders and why I ended up in this type of relationship. I had so many questions within myself that I needed answers to, and I was determined to not end up in this same trap in the future. If I was feeling this way, how many others out there were feeling this way too? I took it upon myself to help educate others about Cluster B Personality Disorders by starting My Emotional Vampire Facebook page as a way for me to vent my own pain and struggles. I also hoped that others would learn from my own experience and in turn this would help them walk away from their abusive relationship and stay away. If I could do it, they could do it!”

“In just a few short months with our help, over 20 women have left their abusive partners, entered safe houses, and/or moved in with friends temporarily. Myself and the other administrators receive messages daily from women thanking us for saving their lives and educating them about these disorders.”

“Although, I am now healing well emotionally and mentally from my abusive relationship, I take it upon myself to continue to educate and empower women and men who suffer abuse at the hands of these Personality Disordered Individuals. I will continue to fight against Domestic Violence, even if it means saving just one woman or man per month. They cannot be changed, save yourself, wish them well and walk away. You will find happiness one day, they never will.” ~MEV

I can’t include the entire message in my story, but I wanted to share it on my blog to encourage others to join the healing conversation and “Like” My Emotional Vampire on Facebook. MEV is administered by six (6) women from across the world, women who have experienced abuse and were able to escape.

We are all on a healing journey together back to peace. Namaste!

Healing through laughter

Laughter is the best medicine.

My son the laughter dummy

In addition to writing and sharing my story of emotional abuse at the hands of a narcissistic sociopath, I want to provide healing options for those who have suffered similarly. On my blog, I write about yoga, Bikram yoga specifically, and how it is healing me every day and with every practice. But one of the most valuable healing tools I have encountered is laughter.

Laughter? Yes, laughter. According to Laughter effects: Humor and Inspiration for victims of sociopaths, laughter is good medicine:

“Laughter reduces stress, strengthens the immune system, and benefits the cardiovascular system. Laughter is the direct pathway to the center of one’s identity. Humor is empowering!” (Martin, 2011).

And what’s the biggest thing that gets taken from us at the hands of sociopaths, narcissists, and other Cluster B predators?…our identities!  I think it is fair to say that most of us choose to be angry at the person who orchestrated our suffering, and the anger is nearly uncontrollable to reel in at times. Unfortunately, being angry wreaks havoc on our bodies and can cause any number of health issues if allowed to seethe. Here is a short list of anger-related conditions I pulled from a Healthmad story on The Physiology of Anger:

  • High blood pressure
  • Decrease in metabolic activity
  • Increased risk of heart attack
  • Increased risk of diabetes
  • Flare-ups of skin diseases (think psoriasis and eczema)
  • Flare-ups of arthritis pain
  • Difficulty battling the common cold
  • Increased risk of asthma attacks

I don’t know about you, but I’d rather put an end to the insanity and not be angry or suffer additional physical and mental anguish. I think we suffered enough, don’t you? Instead, I desperately want to laugh and be happy and healthy with increased vitality and energy and loving relationships. Sounds idyllic, doesn’t it? And we deserve idyllic. So, how do we change anger to laughter? Where do we start? What do we do to keep the laughter flowing?

The answer is pretty simple in my opinion: 1) watch and read humorous movies and books; 2) find the “funny” in everything (even a traffic jam can be funny) and; 3) above all, work on not taking yourself too seriously.  After all, isn’t that the trap the sociopath put us through to begin with?

Below is a link to a website I like visiting occasionally to help transform my anger into laughter. It’s specifically designed for those of us who have had the unfortunate experience of dating douche bags. Hahahaha! Peace. Dated that Douche website is filled with funny quotes and images to keep you laughing in spite of it all.

Healing from domestic violence one story at a time


Image from Squidoo

What comes to mind when you read or hear the term “domestic violence?” Do you picture a woman being punched and stepped on by her husband? Do you see a woman with tears running from her eyes blackened by his blows? What if I told you that this is just a small part of what domestic violence is? What if I told you that domestic violence also includes emotional abuse and sexual abuse and child abuse?

And what about the process of healing after escaping such an experience? Healing is more than waiting for the bruises to fade. Healing takes time to understand the self blame, shame, resentment, anger, depression, and fear.

And most women (and men) cannot heal alone. It takes the courage and compassion of others to help them through the long journey to discovering themselves and life again. It takes organizations like the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence and The Domestic Abuse Help Line for Men and Women to intervene, educate, and attempt to stop and prevent the abuse, which happens all around us every day.

Moved by the overwhelming responses to my story, The Birth and Evolution of a Narcissistic Sociopath, I have decided not to publish the last parts of the story on the website. Instead, I will self-publish the story and make it available through in eReader format and possibly print-on-demand format for about $5.00 per copy. Up to 30% of the sales will be donated to an as-of-yet-designated domestic violence non-profit organization. (Hopefully, my readers will help me narrow the field.)

Before publishing, I will expand upon all parts of the the story. Each part will include more detailed descriptions of The Boy’s behavior and abuse of the Woman, the Child, and his Friends. I’ll provide helpful resources and checklists for my readers to use for themselves or to share with family members, friends, neighbors, or co-workers trying to free themselves from abuse. Other features are also being considered.

Friends with secrets and perfect strangers with stored emotions have been moved enough by my story to e-mail me and share their own stories of abuse. It’s been therapeutic for so many of us, and I want this domino-type healing effect to continue to spread.

Thank you, readers!


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