Yoga heals the body and the mind

Yoga heals the body and the mind.

Yoga heals the body and the mind.

Yoga is not just a passing fad for exercise elitists. Yoga is a safe and highly effective form of therapy for individuals seeking relief from post-traumatic stress, depression and anxiety in the aftermath of abuse and trauma. Do you know how yoga works?

To learn more, read my latest story on CDN:

Yoga therapy for survivors of trauma and abuse


Paula Carrasquilo is a certified yoga teacher, health coach and author of Escaping the Boy: My Life with a Sociopath. Follow her on Twitter and on her Love-Life-Om blog.


free yourself

Freeing Yourself from the Sociopath’s Needs and Crazy-Making World

free yourselfI often repeat, “The sociopath needs us; we do not need the sociopath.”

But the sociopath tries really, really hard to convince you of the opposite. It’s part of the mind control, mind warping practices of the sociopath’s twisted and despicable philosophy he feeds you.

I’ll never forget when the sociopath, the boy in my story, first tried convincing me that I should think in terms of “needing” each other.

I was raised to be independent and to not rely on another person for my basic needs like shelter, clothing, food and other sustenance. As I grew and experienced love and relationships, I also learned that being needy of another person’s affections went against full independence.

I gave love, not expecting love in return but was damn grateful when I received it.

So I was a bit shocked when the sociopath came crying to me upset and feeling neglected and saying, “I NEED you to need me the way I need you!!!”

The first thing that came out of my mouth was, “That’s a dangerous place to be…needing each other…don’t you think?”

He looked at me blankly, silently, so I continued, “Isn’t it enough knowing that I love you? Why would you want me dependent and desperately needing you? I mean, what kind of place would I be if something happened to you and I was left alone? What about if something happened to me? You’d rather us suffer thinking we lost someone we NEEDED to survive?”

Again, crickets from his direction.

I understand now why he could not provide a rebuttal: he knew I thought the idea was BS and he also knew I was not easily malleable. I was a big effing frustration for him, which led him to reverting to angrier and more shocking rages, leaving me wondering what the hell I had done wrong to make him so angry. I found myself NEEDING him for answers and NEEDING him to treat me like I mattered.

But my needs were NEVER met. Instead, my neediness just grew with each layer of shame and blame thrown my way.

A = The Sociopath’s Needs
The need to control you.

B = Your Needs
The need to feel and to be treated as if you matter.

A – B = Crazy-Making World
The sociopath’s need for control is gained by not providing you with your need to feel like you matter. The sociopath’s needs (A) are met; your needs (B) are NEVER met.

It’s a vicious equation and cycle that never ends even after the relationship ends and even after you go no contact. The only way it ends is to accept that the sociopath is a sociopath and will never respect you as a human, treat you like you matter or provide you with the answers you desperately deserve.

If you don’t accept this, your needs continue to be unmet and your desperation for your needs to be met continue to grow and fester. This desperation drives you to levels of high stress, anxiety, prolonged periods of rumination and complete distraction of your other basic needs. You’re still working toward changing the equation that can never change. The sociopath will always have control if you continue insisting your needs will somehow magically be met by the sociopath one day.

This leads to nothing good or productive. You can’t sleep or eat or work without being reminded of something the sociopath withheld or failed to answer honestly. Everything becomes a trigger. Your daily routine, which you once shared with the sociopath, is continuously interrupted by a memory recall, a flashback of an event or associated stressor and/trauma. Certain words used by a friend or colleague may spark panic or take you away from the here and now. You’re mind is out of your control, it seems, because it’s still stuck in Crazy-Making World of the sociopath’s creation.

You’re unable to focus, and your life continues to be crazed until you finally accept and recognize the sociopath for what and who he/she is:

A hateful, despicable, cowardice and vile “person” who lacks all respect for himself and humanity.

No sociopath is going to provide you with the answers as to why he is shitty or why he told you he loved you, yet treated you like you were the most unworthy human on the planet.

No sociopath will ever tell you that you matter or that your feelings and needs matter, because the sociopath only gets joy in your desperation for answers not in your relief once the answers are provided.

Shoot! If they gave you your answers, the control and abuse would end. Control and abuse is too fun for them.

Sociopaths rely on and need you to need them. It gives them power over you. The power increases with each and every bit of information the sociopath continues to withhold.

It’s slow torture. It’s evil at its finest.

How do you get the torture to end? Easy. Stop needing the sociopath for anything, especially for answers that will never come. Eliminate your need to know and put your other needs, like finding peace, first. If you put your needs first, the whole equation changes…just like magic:

B (your needs) – A (the sociopath’s needs) = D (Your Power and PEACE)

The next time the sociopath withholds answers and information from you in a bid to control you, let go of needing to know. Once you do that, you regain your power and then the sociopath doesn’t matter anymore and needing anything from the sociopath becomes a moot point.

Who needs ’em!?! Not us!! 


(Note: Practicing this early, sooner rather than later, can help you maintain your sanity when you’re forced to deal with the sociopath in family court and co-parenting situations. You CAN detach from the sociopath but still remain attached to your best interests and the best interests of your children. Otherwise, you’re fighting an emotional battle with someone who lacks emotions and you will always lose. So stop asking “why” and start taking back your power.)

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PTSD trauma, Paula Carrasquillo, Paula Renee Carrasquillo, Paula Reeves-Carrasquillo, psychopath, sociopath, awareness, dating a sociopath, divorcing a narcissist, Paula's Pontifications

Understanding and Getting Help for PTSD by guest author Keith Valone, Ph.D., Psy.D., M.S.C.P.

sadness PTSDI was recently approached by a California-based psychiatric treatment practice to feature writings by their experts on my blog. I agreed to give it a try. The following may shed some light on the new criteria for being diagnosed with PTSD and provide insight into how children can also be affected by abuse and trauma. We need to take the necessary steps to protect ourselves and our children. Never be ashamed to ask for help.

New Diagnostic Criteria for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a severe psychological condition in which exposure to a traumatic event causes clinically significant symptoms that cause substantial distress or interferes with social, occupational, or developmental functioning.  The criteria that mental health professionals use to diagnose PTSD were recently updated with the release of the 5th edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) in May of 2013.

In this article I will briefly review what changes were made and how to understand them.  If you or a loved one has been exposed to a traumatic event, you may recognize some or many of the symptoms below.  Please remember that only a trained mental health professional is qualified to make a diagnosis of PTSD.  If you suspect that you or a loved one has PTSD, please have an evaluation by a psychologist or another mental health professional at your earliest opportunity.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Grouped Within A New Class of Mental Disorders

The DSM-5 has created a new class of mental disorders called “Trauma and stressor related disorders.”  PTSD is now included within this class rather than seen as an Anxiety Disorder as in previous versions.  The diagnostic criteria for PTSD itself have also been revised, as described below.

To diagnose PTSD, an individual must be exposed to the threat or experience of: sexual violence, serious injury, or death.  This exposure can take the form of either direct exposure, direct witnessing, indirect witnessing through hearing of a close friend or relative’s exposure to trauma, or repeated or extreme indirect exposure to details of trauma in the line of professional duty such as members of the armed forces, policemen, and firefighters.  Exposure to trauma via electronic or social media does not alone constitute a basis to develop PTSD.

In addition to having been exposed to a traumatic event, the individual must display symptoms of impairment in four other areas of functioning for a month or longer.  Intrusive Symptoms include recurrent involuntary memories of the trauma, traumatic nightmares, flashbacks, or intense distress when exposed to a reminder of the trauma.  Avoidance includes efforts to avoid trauma-related thoughts and feelings as well as things or situations that may remind the person of the trauma such as objects, locations, situations, people, and places.  Negative changes in thoughts and feelings include difficulties remembering important aspects of the trauma, pervasive negative feelings about oneself related to the trauma, loss of interest in daily activities, ongoing feelings of shame, horror, guilt, or anger, feeling alienated from others, and/or an inability to feel emotions.  Changes in emotional reactivity include increased irritability or aggression, self-destructiveness, startling easily, problems with concentration, sleep disturbance, or being overly fearful.

PTSD in Adolescents

PTSD in children and adolescents is common.  According to the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, the most common form of child abuse in the United States is neglect, followed by physical abuse, sexual abuse, and mental abuse.  Boys and girls are equally likely to be exposed to trauma over the course of their childhoods.  Studies show that between 3-15% of girls and 1-6% of boys develop PTSD at some point in their childhood.

Teenagers with PTSD may show many signs and symptoms that are similar to adults with PTSD.  However, teens with PTSD are more likely to exhibit the following symptoms:

  • Sexually inappropriate behavior, sexual promiscuity
  • Self-harming behavior such as cutting or burning themselves
  • Suicidal thoughts or actions
  • Aggressive behaviors toward others
  • Drug and alcohol abuse
  • Social isolation and withdrawal, few if any friends, poor choice of friends
  • Acting out behavior such as defying authority, petty theft, breaking rules
  • Lack of trust in adults, sexually inappropriate behavior toward adults
  • Excessive fear, anxiety, worry, sadness, low self-worth, exaggerated startle response
  • Excessive shame, avoidance of eye contact, withdrawn body language

It is important to consider these indicators in boys as well as girls, as boys may express their trauma symptoms in a more aggressive fashion and thus may be seen as evidence of delinquency or “bad character” rather than as signs and symptoms of PTSD.

Getting Help

If you suspect that you or your loved one has PTSD, make an appointment to be evaluated at your earliest opportunity with a qualified mental health professional.  There are other psychological conditions that may appear to be similar to PTSD, so getting an accurate diagnosis is essential.  PTSD can also occur along with other conditions such as drug and alcohol abuse, major depression, and bipolar disorder.  Getting an accurate and comprehensive diagnosis through a psychiatric treatment center or a dual diagnosis treatment center is essential.

There are many highly effective treatments for PTSD.  PTSD is primarily treated with psychotherapy.  Medications are not the primary treatment of choice for PTST but they may help with complications of PTSD such as anxiety, nightmares, and depression.

About the Author:  Keith Valone, Ph.D., Psy.D., M.S.C.P. is  clinical psychologist, certified psychoanalyst, and clinical psychopharmacologist.  He is the founder and CEO of The Arroyos® Treatment Centers and The Arroyos® Psychological Associates in Pasadena, California.

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healing shadow self

The Aftermath of the Sociopath and Identifying Signs of Abuse and Trauma in Yourself

healing shadow selfOnce the toxic relationship with the sociopath or narcissist has ended, we don’t immediately tend to our healing and recovery needs. Why? For starters, we simply fail to recognize our need to heal and recover. Although, we are good at spotting desperation and unhappiness in others, we are either too proud or in deep denial about our personal need for care and attention.

When I escaped the sociopath in January 2011, I was numb. My mind was unable to clearly process what had happened to me during those three (3) short years with the sociopath. I was lost. I struggled to make sense of the chaos of my thoughts. I struggled with shame and blame. I struggled with nightmares and cold sweats. I struggled with discussing what had happened to me, what WAS happening to me.

I struggled.

In my struggle, I failed to grasp the severity of the abuse and its impact on me. I failed to ask the right internal questions about how I was feeling. I failed to see the signs that I had suffered serious mental and emotional anguish that needed attention.

I ignored my needs, because I was desperate to understand ‘him,’ and I couldn’t bare the additional burden of facing a broken self.

Instead, I read and re-read every blog entry and website page that discussed and detailed sociopathic and narcissistic behaviors. I had many ‘ah-ha’ moments about ‘him’ and the relationship but not about me.

In the aftermath of the toxic relationship, most of us who have left or been discarded by a sociopath or narcissist spend an exorbitant amount of time learning how to recognize the signs, behaviors and red flags of the sociopath and narcissist.  We do this for a couple of reasons:

  1. To make sense ‘the source’ of the mental, emotional, physical and sexual abuse and exploitation we experienced.
  2. To hopefully avoid falling victim to another sociopath, narcissist or Cluster B personality in future romantic relationships.

There is great empowerment in educating ourselves about ‘him,’ but we can’t forget about educating ourselves about us.

Although I was seeing a counselor immediately following my escape, I rarely spoke to my counselor about the toxic relationship or ‘him.’ I stuck to discussions about my current life and mending my broken marriage and re-establishing trust. I spoke to my counselor about my struggles with alcohol but never talked about why I chose to self-soothe, self-medicate with booze. It just didn’t seem important to me, I thought.

Now, I realize that I was in deep denial. I just wanted my hatred for ‘him’ and his behavior to magically disappear, so I didn’t have to talk about it. Little did I know that I was directly ‘damaged’ by the relationship and had to face that ‘damage’ in order to move past the destructive aftermath.

How did I finally see that I had to start paying more attention to myself? Probably because I was becoming a person even I didn’t like to be around. That was tough to admit. I hated who I had become. I hated being angry. I was always such a happy person. I was always dreaming and thinking about the future. I loved being alone with my own thoughts.

Suddenly, I recognized that I was no longer behaving like the ‘me’ I had grown to know. I didn’t like myself and certainly didn’t trust myself. How did I expect anyone else to love or respect or trust me? I couldn’t.

Because I didn’t want to lose my family, I was determined to find myself and to learn how to trust myself again.

If I had been more aware and honest with myself, I would have recognized the following red flags of depression and despair sooner rather than later and would have been equipped to tackle and beat these after effects of pathological love:

  • Feeling depressed.
  • Feeling numb.
  • Loss of friends.
  • Nightmares.
  • Cold sweats.
  • Destructive forms of self-soothing and self-medicating like eating too much, not eating enough, drinking alcohol, abusing pain killers, etc.
  • Loss of enthusiasm for activities that were once a substantial part of your identity and existence.
  • Feelings of inadequacy in your abilities, skills and job performance.
  • Constant rumination; reliving episodes of abuse and trauma.
  • Avoidance of certain people, situations and places.
  • Inability to control anger as a result of a threat, real or perceived.
  • Constant need for validation from others in how you are feeling.

Many who read this will think, “Everyone experiences these types of feelings at some point in their lives.”

That is true, but we aren’t talking about fleeting feelings. We’re talking about constant, chronic, never-ending feelings that just won’t go away, regardless of our efforts to make them vanish. We’re talking about feelings and emotions that lead to self-destruction. No kidding. Self-destruction!

When we recognize the recurrence and insidious nature of our thoughts and emotions, we must realize it’s time to start making a plan to help ourselves by seeking help from others.

  • Reading a book isn’t always enough.
  • Joining an online support group isn’t always enough.
  • Talking to a counselor isn’t always enough.
  • Joining the gym isn’t always enough.
  • Practicing yoga isn’t always enough.
  • Getting out and doing things for the first time isn’t always enough.
  • Taking medication isn’t always enough.

Healing and recovery is a unique and individual path. What works for ‘her’ may not work for you. What worked yesterday, may not work today. Getting to the bottom of ourselves in order to change and better ourselves is a long and sometimes arduous journey. The first thing we must learn to do is to be patient with ourselves. Baby steps are required. Just because you recognize the effects, doesn’t mean they can all be remedied overnight.

What do I recommend?

Visit the website for The Institute for Relational Harm Reduction and Public Pathology Education for free and low-cost therapy and recovery assistance.  Founder, Sandra L. Brown, has over 25 years of experience as a psychoanalyst with expert knowledge and understanding of helping men and women who have suffered trauma as a result of pathological love.

You are not alone. Don’t be ashamed. There is help and hope for you!


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Writing keeps us sane and healthy…Really!

People often ask me, “Why do you write about such personal things on your blog and on your other site? Aren’t you afraid of being judged or critisized?”

My quick answer: Writing provides me with a release. Instead of trying to fight feelings internally, I purge them by writing them all down and sharing some of them on my blog. Some feelings are shameful, and some are joyful. I publish many of these feelings because I know there might be others who have similar feelings and think they are alone in those feelings. (You know how they say misery loves company? Well, I like to think that all emotions and feelings want company. When we’re joyful, wouldn’t we rather be in a room filled with other happy folks than a room filled with depressed downers?)

If you don’t believe me, read what the experts have to say about writing and healing.

When I was pregnant with my son in 2005, I took two creative writing courses. Most of the stuff I wrote about dealt with overwhelming emotions and moods I was experiencing. At the time, I had no idea that the process of writing was aiding me through these moods as my pregnancy progressed. I would have strong feelings of not being worthy of having a child or not knowing how to be a good mother or wife or sister…(you get the idea). Here is a poem I wrote inspired by William Carlos Williams’ poem of the same title:

This is Just to Say
(April 2005 – For my husband, sister, and baby)

This is just to say…
I’m sorry for eating your food
from the Styrofoam container clearly marked:
“Please Do Not Eat.”

This is just to say…
I’m sorry for being cranky and tired lately
but you’d be too if you
had a grapefruit poking out of your belly.

This is just to say…
I’m sorry I forgot to put a new roll
of toilet paper in the bathroom;
I know you can’t see without your glasses.

This is just to say…
I hope your team wins; I really
do care even though I always say:
“It’s ONLY a game.”

This is just to say…
I hope you decide to stay;
We really love having you around even though
you don’t help cook, clean, or walk your dog.

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