prison, Paula Carrasquillo, Paula Renee Carrasquillo, Paula Reeves-Carrasquillo, psychopath, sociopath, awareness, dating a sociopath, divorcing a narcissist

Not Everyone Behind Bars is a Sociopath. Not Even Close!

prisonI shared the following volunteer story with Leah Oviedo on her new blog, Up To You Project, dedicated to encouraging community involvement on a local and global scale.

As I wrote it, I thought about what I have learned in recent months about sociopaths and other pathological liars and delusional individuals who get away with the most base crimes across the nation, but rarely, if ever, are prosecuted.

I’m talking about the child molesters, child abusers, rapists, spouse abusers and con artists who I believe are behind the creation and “nurturing” of the majority of petty thieves, drug dealers and addicts that end up in our system.

Here’s a not-so-startling statistic:

“A reported 85 to 90 percent of women who are either currently incarcerated or under the control of the justice system in the United States have a history of domestic and sexual abuse. Risk factors contributing to women’s criminal behavior include substance abuse, mental illness, and spousal abuse.” (Center for American Progress – The Top 5 Facts About Women in Our Justice System)

Most of the people I encountered during my volunteer experience described below simply needed someone to give them hope that there was still good in this world. They needed a little push, a little motivation and incentive to change.

Those who were clearly criminal and evil by nature, I gladly watched return to their cells. There is no changing a sociopathic mind.

My Volunteer Story and What I Learned

In 2004 when I was a graduate student attending Regis University in Denver, CO, I joined AmeriCorps, the domestic-based equivalent of the Peace Corps. The organization I chose was Community Educational Outreach (CEO), a non-profit that outreaches to the at-risk and in-need community members providing free GED, ABE, Life Skills and other valuable classes and training. I took on the volunteer assignment with only one expectation: to help someone pass the GED. I had no idea that I would be gifted with much, much more.

The CEO outreach partner where I chose to begin volunteering was located in a community corrections facility which housed male and female offenders out on probation/parole transitioning back into the community. The program was created due to over-crowding and a need to get these folks out of the “encaged” mindset and into one of independent thinking and doing. Although the facility was run by security guards and other correctional professionals, when the offenders walked into the CEO classrooms, they became students. They were no longer referred to as inmates.

Most of the young people (those under 30) were clearly high-strung and not very trusting of me. Most couldn’t understand why I would wish to help them for nothing. Even after explaining to them that I just wanted to help them, they couldn’t “get it.” I then started answering them with, “Well, if you continue to fail, all of society continues to fail. I want to be a part of a successful community and helping you is a step toward belonging to a healthier community.”

This approach seemed to work. I guess in their thinking, there had to be something in it for me because, more than likely, they were acted upon their entire lives by people who wanted something from them, otherwise they had no value.

There was something in it for me but that “something” was difficult to describe to my students:

  • I helped men who had never had a proper job in their lives fill out applications and compose their first resumes.
  • I got to see a woman who had lost most of her teeth to meth addiction, smile proudly for the first time in many years after we found her a dentist who was willing to give her new teeth pro bono.
  • I saw the simple joy in the eyes of many after passing the GED on their first or second attempt.
  • I got to see that there is hope and that rehabilitation and cognitive therapy and learning programs can help some of the forgotten and thrown away in our society.
  • I also became very aware that many can’t be helped. Many need the correction system because they can never change their mindset.

But I was thankful that I could be a part of a program and project that helped those who desperately wanted to be helped. Regardless of a person’s past or upbringing, they are human and deserve our empathy and trust, at least until they prove, one way or another, that they don’t deserve it.

Why not share your volunteer story with Leah?

Note: Although I began this experience as a volunteer, within weeks of helping I was offered a part-time job but continued working unpaid on Sundays.

Namaste!
~ Paula

 (image source: http://pinterest.com/pin/351912440683909/)

Oh, boy! The sociopath went and got hitched! Lower the curtain on the drama once and for all.

red curtain

You just found out the sociopath has a new girlfriend, a new soul mate. To top it off, he married her!

Your first reaction is to be pissed and angry. I understand where your anger is coming from. But as you work through your emotions, there are a few things you need to keep in mind:

Sociopaths CAN NOT be alone. They must always have someone or something to control. To them, the ultimate is to use people to control other people. He’s using his relationship to control your emotions and to play with your mind. And he is loving every second of your pain.

Do you really care that he is in a new relationship? Do you want to be in a relationship with him? Are you jealous of her?

NO! Of course you answered “no” to all of these.

Your anger is coming from your ego. You are pissed that he duped you. You’re pissed that he fooled everyone into thinking he’s a good guy and you’re a freak. You’re pissed because there is nothing you can do to save or warn his new girlfriend/wife about what is to come (because it will come for her just as it came for you.)

You must remove yourself from his bag of tricks. You must not allow him to be able to manipulate and control your emotions even from a distance. You must learn to be able to remain completely detached. If you allow anything that he says, does or implies with his actions or words to affect you in any way, he is still affecting you and controlling you.

It is not easy to become completely detached as quickly as you want to become completely detached. The only way to get closer to becoming completely detached is to be absolutely certain in your mind that he is what he is: a narcissistic sociopath who lacks the ability to empathize or feel remorse. He has no conscience.

Everything he does and says is for effect and relies upon an audience. Remove yourself from his audience.

For me, I had to stop worrying about warning and trying to save his future girlfriends. I accept the fact that he is still out there reading my blog and calling me crazy to all of his new friends and “followers.” I’m okay with that. I’m okay with him calling my son a spoiled brat, my family enablers, my husband a fat ass and my sisters ugly and fat.

Who the fuck cares what these dark and twisted jackasses think of us and the ones who love us? They have nothing we want. They are no one we would be proud to stand next to. They lack integrity and respect for everyone, including themselves.

Sociopaths are textbook. They are predictable. We need to stop reacting with surprise to their behavior and instead react with a heavy yawn.

They’re predictable and boring characters who only exist if we give them a stage. So drop the curtain on their performance and cancel the show.

Namaste!
~ Paula

Accepting Another Invitation to Talk About Sociopaths on TV

destiny old womanSince becoming aware of and accepting the reality of what struck me when in the relationship with the sociopath, the boy in my story, I try making decisions related to telling more of my story based on what I may or may not regret.

So when I was contacted this week by a researcher interested in interviewing me and learning more about my story for a new show on relationships to run on A&E’s Biography Channel, I hesitated to respond:

A.) I needed to run the idea passed my husband. He is ultimately affected by every decision I make related to telling my story. If he worries it will affect us negatively, I worry too.

B.) On the heals of my HuffPost Live appearance, I was feeling defeated and couldn’t help but ask, “Is continuing to speak out worth the stress and regret when I get it wrong or when I do a half-assed job of trying to express myself?”

C.) Can I really do this? Do I have the resources and the time to dedicate to something like this? Just a few weeks ago I was writing about not writing as much about this subject matter.

I immediately texted my husband. He immediately responded with, “Go for it!”

So I am going for it. I have a phone interview later next week and will be provided with more details. Once I am able to share more, I will.

In the meantime, please let me know some of the major focus areas related to sociopaths and recovery from pathological relationships that you think should be touched upon if the show allows.

If it were not for the support of my family and friends and all of the wonderful people I have had the privilege of meeting through this blog, I wouldn’t have the confidence and motivation I have to keep trying.

One day soon, I wholeheartedly believe, the words sociopath, psychopath, relational harm and pathological love will be understood by the majority and not over-used or misused like they are today.

Namaste! Peace and love!

(image source: http://pinterest.com/pin/46302702388466751/)

phoenix, PTSD, recovery, psychopath, sociopath, awareness, dating a sociopath, divorcing a narcissist, Paula Carrasquillo, Paula Renee Carrasquillo, Paula Reeves-Carrasquillo

The Rise and Fall and Rise Again: The Evolution of You Inside and Outside the Toxic Relationship with a Sociopath

phoenixSo you want to know what I mean when I say I was in a toxic relationship with a sociopath and why it took me so long to leave and why I speak of the need to heal from it?

Okay. Here goes:

Imagine meeting the most charming, independent and interesting fellow who seems to love everything about you. He showers you with love, affection and attention. He likes everything that you like. You share the exact same dreams and hopes for the future. He seems like your perfect match and “too good to be true.”

Within a few short months of meeting (but well after you have become emotionally invested in him), this “great guy” begins to devalue you, seemingly out of the blue.

He tells you that you should dress better, stop drinking so much, be a better parent, look into finding work that suits your skills, consider dropping some of your friends who have no purpose and to stop being so selfish.

These are all things that you recognize could be holding you back and are even some you have seriously considered changing about yourself before, but why does he have to be so cruel and harsh in his assessments and judgments?

You let him know his words hurt. But instead of backing off with the criticisms, he pumps up the volume and frequency of them. He seems to get pleasure in knowing he’s hurting you.

Every attempt at change you make and everything you do or say comes with belittling reactions from him. It hurts. His words hurt. And being hurt sucks away all of your motivation to make any of the changes he proposes you make. And because of the emotional investment you made and the “taste” of the good man you thought he was, you keep holding out hope that his poor opinion of you and his bad behavior is fleeting, and he’ll soon see the error in his heartless ways.

But it continues. Each time you protest to his hateful remarks and threaten to leave, he  immediately apologizes and promises never to do it again. The good guy persona appears briefly, always and inevitably replaced by the ugly head of his monster side.

This causes you great confusion and despair.

“What happened to that loving and caring guy I first met? He MUST be in there somewhere. I can’t just walk away even though he’s hurting me. Imagine how much I would hurt him if I left? He just doesn’t understand that he’s really hurting me. Poor thing. I can’t just leave him. He’s so lost.”

But then his despicable nature becomes harder and harder for him to hide. His “good guy” mask is chipping away and disintegrating completely right before your eyes.

And because all of your hope has washed away with his mask, you start letting him know more and more how you feel about what he says and does that hurts you and others.

What’s his reaction? To point a blaming finger back at you. YOU are why he does what he does, and it’s YOUR fault that you can’t handle the truth.

He’s partially right. You are to blame for why he behaves and hurts you. But not for the reasons he proposes.

He claims you’re weak and mentally ill. Wow! You’re floored. After all, you simply tried to explain to him that what he did wasn’t nice or what he’s thinking about another person might not be 100% accurate. You never once said he was sick or mentally ill for behaving and saying those things. Why would he claim you were sick and mentally ill unless you were sick and mentally ill?

So you ponder that idea: “Am I sick and mentally ill? No one would suggest such a thing unless I were, right?”

But because you aren’t sick and mentally ill, you become sick and mentally ill trying to uncover issues to prove you are sick and mentally ill. At the same time, you’re trying to make sense of the actions and behaviors of a man who you have yet to realize lacks empathy and remorse.

You go crazy wondering what you did to cause someone to react to you in such ugly and hateful ways.

And this is where your ability to empathize, be compassionate, and exercise your conscience works against you. You are dealing with a sociopath who lacks all of those things but is able to manipulate and control you because you have them!!!

Do you see the irony and silliness in this toxic situation?

You do see it! You finally do! And you realize it can’t and won’t stop unless you exit the ride. But you might not have the right words to explain what you feel. That’s okay. There is no time to explain. More than likely you’re going on what your gut has been trying to tell you all along, that something is f*cking, stinkin’ rotten in Denmark.

You finally listen and are able to start seeing and accepting him for what he is. You begin to see the reality that he can’t change and that you are absolutely unwilling to give up your freedom and your will in order to please him. You have yourself to make happy. He’s a grown man. Let him deal with himself, alone. You’ve had it!

So you no longer make excuses for him, to yourself or to others. He’s never given you that courtesy, so why give it to him.

You leave him. Who would want this in their lives:

He’s a racist, sexist, misogynistic douche bag to the nth degree. You realize that all of those nasty, derogatory comments he’s made in the past about you and everyone else were because he really believes them to be true. They weren’t comments made by someone who cares if he hurts someone or not.

“Wow! Even the squirrels in Maryland are black.”

“Your boyfriend lost his leg? How can you date someone who is only half a man?”

“Why would you order coffee before I’ve even finished my meal, you selfish whore?”

“I put those Amish framers to work! Good thing they don’t know the real value of their efforts.”

“I told her at the entrance to the theater that she looked like a cream puff in that dress. It’s not my problem she dislikes me. The truth is the truth.”

“So my mom nearly dropped my niece and my brother screamed at my mom calling her a clumsy fat pig! Hehe! Can you believe it? You should have seen my Mother’s face! I don’t know what she was thinking carrying my niece that way.”

“You knew I was like this when you first met me.”

And there’s the rub.

Yes. I knew he was a little on the egotistical side. I thought he was like that because he was young (35) and his mother hadn’t taught him any better. (Sorry moms. It’s always easier to blame you.)

The part I didn’t know, however, is the part about him being without a conscience and lacking the ability to empathize.

It’s our conscience and our empathy that has allowed us, non-sociopaths, to grow and change and become better and more understanding people as we live our lives. We make the false assumption that everyone we meet has both empathy and a conscience. That’s where we fail ourselves and cause ourselves undue suffering when we cross paths with a sociopath.

Mr. and Ms. Sociopath are incapable of growing and changing and evolving into respectable and caring human beings, people we would all be proud to call our partners or friends in life.

Does that make me sad for sociopaths? No. I am detached from feeling anything for them.

What it makes me is incredibly thankful and proud of myself for having the strength and courage to face my own demons in order to wipe away the false demons a sociopath created and tried planting inside of me.

I certainly have my faults. But none that can’t be recognized and fixed with a little hard work and lots of empathy and help from my conscience.

Today, I dictate my own thoughts. No longer does another try to control how I see myself. That’s freedom. And we all deserve it and can reach it.

~Namaste!

(image source: http://pinterest.com/pin/280208408035377747/)

caged birds tattoo, PTSD, recovery, psychopath, sociopath, awareness, dating a sociopath, divorcing a narcissist, Paula Carrasquillo, Paula Renee Carrasquillo, Paula Reeves-Carrasquillo

Reaching the Best F*cking Peace Anyone Could Ask For

caged birds tattooHow necessary is forgiveness in your journey to finding peace? Many believe being able to forgive yourself and the sociopath is the ONLY path to real healing and peace. And everyone has their opinion about what true forgiveness means and will try imposing their understanding of forgiveness onto you.

I don’t think that is fair, so I’d like to offer some relief:

There is no definitive solution or recipe to reach the peace true forgiveness brings. The moment you feel the relief in your heart, you will know it instinctively. The peace will wash over you. The grudges or resentments you have will simply be gone.

The flood of peace comes naturally and suddenly, but we must work for peace.

You know what they say about a watched pot never boiling? The same is true for peace and forgiveness. If you keep harboring on why you haven’t found peace and wondering why forgiveness is so elusive, they will NEVER arrive. What you must do is “get busy living or get busy dying.” (I love Shawshank Redemption.) Because relying solely on your wishes and hopes for peace and forgiveness won’t bring them to you. There are real actions that you must take also.

Wishing and hoping are beautiful but solve nothing on their own. If all you do is sit around wishing and hoping for peace, you remove yourself from reality. Removing yourself from reality is what you did in the relationship, wishing and hoping things would change. They never changed, did they?

I’m not saying to stop wishing and hoping. I’m recommending that you add action to those thoughts.

Do things that bring you immediate joy and happiness.

Take long walks. Read a great book. Watch a movie. Plant a garden. Learn to Tango.

Go to a concert. Get tickets to see your favorite sports team live. Sign up for a boot-camp workout. Become a vegetarian. Pickup your instrument again.

Do something you have always wanted to do but were either too afraid or too tired to try. Do something you were always discouraged from doing or shamed for attempting while in the toxic relationship.

Doing something new and for you helps to refocus and redirect your mind. When we refocus and redirect our minds, we’re teaching ourselves to think differently about ourselves and the world around us. We naturally begin to reprogram our mind to think mindfully and more positively. We are in charge and in control. Being in charge and in control of ourselves is a path to peace.

Once I stopped shaming and blaming myself for everything that went wrong in the toxic relationship, I found the strength and energy to step outside of myself and my routine. I created a new routine, a new model of me. A better routine, a better model of me. A healthier routine, a healthier model of me.

Taking control of myself and my routine has resulted in becoming a better person, mother, wife, sister, daughter, and friend. And my routine changes all the time! My routine is routinely changing! The one constant, however, is my peace of mind.

The peace I feel knowing I am not hurting anyone.

The peace I feel knowing I am not hurting myself.

The peace I feel knowing no one is hurting me.

But most importantly, the peace I feel knowing that there is no one trying to convince me that I am hurting myself or anyone else while they hurt me.

That’s the best f*cking peace anyone could ask for and that peace is reachable for us all.

Namaste!

(image source: http://pinterest.com/pin/357895501608115854/)

balance

Balancing to Hold On by Letting Go

balanceSince I started this blog, I am realizing more and more how much we, the victims and survivors of pathological love relationships, need each other. I’m also realizing how much we need to set each other free.

From the outside looking in, most people who visit this site (and other sites like this one) can easily jump to the conclusion that we’re a bunch of crying, complaining, broken-hearted, love-sick divas who need to move on!

I get it. I really do. I understand why many choose to look at us in that light: it’s easier to see surface emotions and judge them without diving deep into the reasons behind the emotions.

Often when we read or hear of another’s pain, we end up taking on their emotions. It’s draining. That’s called empathy. Being empathetic takes lots of energy and requires an absence of ego.

We know sociopaths can’t do that. They are not able to empathize.

The rest of us can empathize to a high degree, and the beauty of our ability is that we can choose the degree to which we empathize.

What do I mean? Well, think about it. The amount of energy it takes to focus on another’s pain is draining. We know the people in our lives who drain us the most, right? More than likely, the first person that comes to mind is the sociopath with his pseudo-pain.

But there are many non-pathological people who need our attention due to real pain, and we give to them freely. We put our worries and frustrations aside in order to take on the worries and frustrations of others.

And because we are aware of the energy required to do this, we sometimes choose not to empathize. We choose not to get involved. Making that choice is tough and sometimes filled with guilt. But it’s necessary.

I am perfectly content sometimes to not get involved, especially if I have no useful skills or resources that can help someone in great pain. In those circumstances, I end up feeling more helpless and hopeless and sad, in addition to taking on the pain of the person with whom I am empathizing.

So I choose not to get involved.

It’s not easy to turn the switch from “on” to “off.” I have had to do this often over the past months with family, friends and blog followers (I apologize!) in order to protect myself and remain on track to self-awareness and recovery.

Being overly empathetic of others steals our energy needed for ourselves. It’s the catch-22 of being a healthy, non-pathological person who critiques sociopaths and psychopaths daily–I end up looking no better than the sociopaths and psychopaths I analyze and digest.

But that’s just my guilt talking. I know I’m not a sociopath or psychopath. I also know when the time has come for me to be serious about my limitations and think seriously about hanging up my current hat in order to try on a new one.

Now is one of those times.

Since late February, I have been struggling with writing about sociopaths/psychopaths. I know deep down that I can’t maintain this momentum. I just can’t. I’ve written exhaustively about my experience and observations over the past 16 months or so. With the submission of each post, I think, “This could be the last one on the subject.”

It never is. There is always something that sparks something inside of me. It could be a conversation with a friend, a question from a reader, a TV commercial I watch, a word I hear, a song I begin to hum…whatever it is, I become inspired to share one more story related to sociopaths and toxic relationships.

But I am serious this time. This really could be the last post on the subject I write, but that’s only because I have so many other wonderful things in my life on which I want to focus.

Other than the obvious need to spend more time with my family, I am also actively planning to begin yoga teacher training in the fall. Once certified in yoga, I can then become certified to teach yoga to trauma patients.

THAT is what I see as my ultimate gift and take away from my toxic relationship and the best use of my empathy and all the energy it consumes. My writing has been a stepping stone to many things: friendships, understanding, job opportunities, vision and purpose.

I’ll continue to write, but probably less and less about sociopaths and psychopaths but more and more on healing techniques and mindful approaches to self-care (which anyone could benefit regardless of past relationship horrors).

I remain dedicated to transforming this blog into a comprehensive book on the aftermath and journey to self-recovery and healing from relational harm. That goal will be primary through the end of this year. As far as writing new material, I want to focus more on writing and editing for Elephant Journal and my Washington Times Communities’ column (which could possibly go into syndication, but I need to hunker down for that to happen).

So I’m not really going anywhere. I could never leave this community. However, I realize I need to let go a little in order to free myself to explore more possibilities for life, love and laughter. The “longing” part is taken care of now, because I feel more free today than I have ever felt in my entire life. I owe a large majority of that to my blog readers and visitors. You’ve made these past months so worth it to me.

The rest is thanks to my loving husband J., my son A. and myself.

Namaste!
~Paula

(image source: http://pinterest.com/pin/147492956518852766/)

yoga pose

The Most Important Part of My Healing and Continued Growth

yoga poseYoga! What is yoga and how can it help you?

I refer to yoga a lot. I have only been practicing yoga for 19 months. I began in October 2011 with a single goal–to heal my knee. I had been living with a bum knee since a car accident in 2002. Nine years of chronic pain was long enough, I thought, and I really wanted to avoid surgery. (I hate the idea of being cut open.)

I read and researched various therapy techniques and approaches to healing the type of injury I had sustained. I finally stumbled on a few testimonials from folks who had tried Bikram yoga.

Well, what do you know!? There was a Bikram studio just around the corner from my home, a studio I had passed many, many times and had never given a second thought.

I walked in one day, talked to the owner and signed up. The studio offered a deal for beginners: $20 for unlimited classes your first 7 days.

Being the skeptical, stubborn and determined person I am, I took 6 classes my first 7 days and couldn’t believe the results!

Not only did I heal my knee, I also realized that my overall health and well-being was getting healed along the way.

My mental and emotional health didn’t miraculously change in those first 7 days of practice. Not even close. It took about 6 months of dedicated attendance before I could feel, really feel, myself becoming a more focused, patient and life-loving person.

Yoga taught me how to listen to my breath, which led to listening to my heart.

(The following list of benefits was taken from this page:
http://yogalutionstudio.com/about-the-studio/what-is-yoga/)

A disciplined pracitce of yoga brings transformative effects:

Strengthens the body
Focuses the mind
Boosts serotonin levels
Decreases anxiety, depression and fear
Improves sleep
Enhances the immune system
Stabilizes blood sugar levels
Releases muscle tension
Prevents premature aging and illnesses

Yoga is the portal to preventative healthcare and a long healthy fulfilling life.

Remember, you don’t have to be flexible to benefit from yoga. Yoga is not a religion and isn’t intended to replace your current spiritual path. Yoga is meant to supplement whatever path you are on.

Namaste!
~Paula

(image source: http://pinterest.com/pin/223420831486804355/)

The Intelligence of Anxiety

blow up

I love editing for Elephant Journal. It seems each and every article I am assigned somehow relates to this blog and everyone who follows it. The latest article I edited over the weekend relates to our anxieties.

I think you would all agree that understanding, recognizing and dealing with the anxieties in the toxic relationship really screwed with our minds.

Good news! That’s what anxiety is supposed to do. Our anxieties were a warning sign that something was not right! How we dealt with these anxieties is another story.

Below is a short intro to the article with a link to the rest of the story. Enjoy!


The Intelligence of Anxiety. ~ Ian Anderson for Elephant Journal

I recently read an article linking high levels of anxiety with a high IQ, which made me think, “What is the intelligence of our anxiety?”

To better explore this topic, it is essential to understand what anxiety is and how it works.

Understanding Our Anxiety

Dictionary.com defines anxiety as, “A feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome.”

This is a relatively good definition, and something that I am certain almost all of us can relate to. I would add that the frustrating aspect of anxiety is that it’s intrusive, preventing us from accomplishing what we want from our lives.

Not only does anxiety manifest highly undesirable emotional responses, we often respond in physical ways: we begin to sweat, our stomachs churn and suddenly we can’t think or speak clearly.

Our ability to feel this anxiety evolved for a reason. It kept us alive. The problem today is that our anxiety often occurs in the face of unrealistic, or in the absence of, true threats.

So what do we do about it? Let us first explore our negative coping patterns. Continue reading.

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