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By December 16, 2007 8 Comments Read More →

The gift of fear: After the sociopath is gone.

When I first got my life back after the sociopath was arrested, I was terrified of becoming angry. Anger to me was my father raging. Anger was the sociopath standing before me with fist raised, eyes blazing, teeth bared. Anger never stopped. Anger was forever. And so, I feared my anger.

I had to learn that anger does end — when I let it out — safely and with feeling.

One hot sunny day a couple of months after his arrest, a girlfriend, who had also come out of an abusive relationship, and I took 4 dozen eggs to the top of a cliff and threw them with all our might onto the rocks below. Before we hurled them we sat and drew pictures and words onto each egg — pictures and words I had always been too afraid to speak. I drew caricatures of the sociopath. I drew pictures of what I’d like to do to him (like drowning in a vat of hot oil, or being squished by a huge road paving machine) I wrote swear words, exclamation marks and red thunder bolts and anything else that depicted to me what he was and what he’d done to me. And then, screaming and yelling and crying, I hurled those eggs off the cliff and watched them smash below.

When only one egg was left, I stood at the edge of the cliff and gently cradled the egg in my palm. I took a deep, deep calming breath and slowly opened my hand and held the egg in front of me. Slowly, I turned my hand over and let the egg fall out. It sailed silently down and was broken. All that was left were scattered eggshells on the rocks below.

For me, that final, graceful movement represented how easy it was to ‘let it go’. The longer I held onto my fear of being angry, my pain, my sorrow, my grief stayed within me. And the more they filled me up, the more my body hurt.

When I chose to move into it and through it, to release it, it let go of me and I was free.

One of my challenges (and believe me there were many) when first I got my life back was to accept that what he had done was wrong. That what he had done hurt me. I kept trying to minimize it, to tell myself to ‘get over it’, to tell myself I had to forgive him or at least give him a chance to explain.

I was wrong.

The only thing I needed to do was to believe in me. I needed to accept that what happened to me hurt me. I needed to turn up for me and turn away from abuse. I needed to wrap my loving arms around myself and tell me that I would no longer accept the unacceptable. I would no longer abide by abuse. And, I would no longer abuse myself by trying to make sense of his nonsense, by trying to rationalize his bad behaviour, by trying to make his abuse acceptable. Never was. Never can be.

And then, I had to choose to do what was right. What was caring. What was loving for me. I had to learn to love myself, beauty and the beast, and to accept myself just the way I am and to believe I deserve more than he ever would or could have given me. I deserve to set myself free.

Today, I believe in me. I believe in my right to live a beautiful life. I believe in my right to be who I am, beauty and the beast, and I believe in my power to express who I am in ways that honour my beauty as I express my love and respect for the beauty of the world around me.


Posted in: M.L. Gallagher

8 Comments on "The gift of fear: After the sociopath is gone."

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  1. apt/mgr says:

    I had to determine what was real and what was just a habit. I think people can become just that. I think I was addicted to the person and not the actual happening. I know real love and what I’ve had wasn’t real. Instead of the relationship being give and take, it was habit on my part to keep doing what I was doing. When something is bad for us and we keep doing it, suggests it’s more habit than happening. My interpretation. It took me a long time to see that when someone kept hurting me and I kept letting them, it was my place to put a stop to it. It did become a habit. I’m learning to break habits. I’ve been an emotional eater. That’s my worst vice and I sought comfort from those foods that I know aren’t good for me. Habit. He would hurt me, I would eat. Habit. I’ve learned to recognize the signs and stop before I reach for anything that isn’t good for me. I have to take back the power to be hurt and no one can do that unless I let them. I’m learning to break a lot of bad habits. That will help me be the best I can be for me. If the rest don’t like it, oh well. There are millions more women out there they can try. I have to be able to live with me and be happy doing it. I’m learning to be stronger than my habits.



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  2. apt/mgr — Powerful words. I love this statement — I am learning to be stronger than my habits. Thank you for that. I’m going to post that above my computer — and on the door of my fridge! Have a powerful day creating new habits of being your most awesome self. ML



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  3. apt/mgr says:

    Thank you and you, too. We are okay. They aren’t. But they refuse to learn. Sad for them. The most of them will go to their grave without learning to sing.



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  4. notquitebroken says:

    It is precisely habit that kept me coming back for more even after I knew better. It was more than habit. It was addiction, and he fostered it. He started out slowly and worked on me, telling me that he needed attention desperately. At first, I gave it to him willingly because he was giving it back. He slowly stopped giving me more than cursory attention, but he had successfully trained me to take care of his needs and completely sublimate my own. If I expressed needs, I was selfish. If I talked to a friend about the way he was treating me, I was hateful and disloyal. If asked questions, I was begging to be lied to.



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  5. apt/mgr says:

    Me, too. He constantly baited me and I didn’t know any better and took it, until one day I woke up and said wait a minute. He would do something and I’d react and he’d say I was just wanting attention. I’m not an attention wanter, but I realized he was the one. He’s the one who is very insecure. He has to constantly prove himself to everyone, especially women, from what I’m hearing and always suspected. If I asked for more time, he would say I should be glad he even stops to see me instead of complaining. I told him he should be glad I let him. I, too, would ask questions of other people and he would get livid. He says I should just take his word for everything. I said they had no reason to tell me anything other than the truth. If I questioned him, I was calling him a liar. I said no, I just didn’t believe what he said! What a bunch of gobble-de-gook he calls talk. He talks in circles so he confuses the one he is with, hoping they don’t catch on. I’ve learned to just wait and bide my time and sure enough, someone comes through with info that confirms my suspicions. He did a number on me, but I found out he did a bigger one on his ex wives, of which I almost was. I’m the one who got away before he did any more damage than what he did. But it sure feels good to be on the other side of all that. I wouldn’t want to relive any of it. Well maybe before when I thought he was real, but the facade slips eventually and I would have to go through it anyway. I’ll stay where I’m at.



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  6. notquitebroken says:

    Mine was amazingly good at reflecting his problems onto me the way you describe yours doing, apt/mgr. He accused me of causing drama when he was angry over something small. He insisted I was the one who needed constant attention. He insisted I was the crazy one. He insisted I wasn’t trustworthy, and that I was controlling. It was all a way of making me try extra-hard to prove that I was none of the things he accused me of, and it worked like a charm. He knew I couldn’t stand to be the bad guy in the whole situation. He knew that I have a strong sense of ethics and try to treat people fairly AND accept responsibility for the mistakes I make. When he accused me of being selfish or dramatic or controlling, it was easy to look at myself and say, “Well, yes. I am those things sometimes,” and take ALL the responsibility in the relationship. He never took ANY emotional responsibility at all. If I was upset, it was my own fault and certainly had nothing to do with him. If he was upset, I’d caused it. When he cheated, it was because I had failed him. He had no empathy for me whatsoever, and any empathy he had for others was feigned for as long as it suited him.

    At one point, a very dear friend of mine spoke rather sharply to him about the way he treated me because I’d been crying to her about it. He accused me of disloyalty, which he claimed was intolerable and didn’t want me to have anything at all to do with her, ever again. A few weeks later, her son was killed in a dreadful car accident, and he said that she deserved this terrible tragedy and heartbreak because of the way she’d spoken to him about his treatment of me. It was unfathomable that anyone could be so heartless. That one was a serious eye-opener for me, and the beginning of the end.



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  7. apt/mgr says:

    It sounds like you had a clone of the man in my life. Cold and calloused. Very calculating. I actually felt so bad for thinking those thoughts of him. I kept giving him the benefit of the doubt, but he ran out of benefits. But yet I still tried. I would appeal to him. How degrading on my part. I think I just didn’t want to believe he was like I suspected but others who knew him better, told me what I suspected. I just found out yesterday he is a drug user and probably has been for many years. I had a friendship with him that had a little personal twist to it, but I realize now it was more in his mind than mine, and he just used any attraction I had for him, to use me. I’ve found out just how he conducts his real life. I’ve only known him from him coming to visit me. He started out as my insurance agent, (that kind of tells a lot about him) and a friendship ensued. I only knew who he was through other people. He extracted information out of me and I naively gave it to him, many years ago and used it all against me to further his dominion of me. But the picture others painted for me showed me a man who is very cunning and deceitful, all of which I suspected, but couldn’t act on.

    Now I know his dirty secrets and how he really conducts his real life. He seems to change to fit the person he’s with. He mirrored me in so many ways, and I couldn’t understand why. He was the man and I was the woman. We already had our roles. He’s a man who is very suave and debonair. He will turn a woman’s head, then ends up turning her stomach. I came so close to losing more than I did, but he never did get to finish what he started. I’ve found out he’s led a rather perverted lifestyle, prior to me, but the most of them never quit. So I have every reason to believe he still conducts his relationships the same way as always. As relieved as I am to know I was right in my assessment, a part of me wanted to believe they were all wrong about him. But everything adds up and now I know. It all makes sense. No more surprises. I was right and I don’t say that with gloating.



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  8. alohatraveler says:

    To NotQuiteBroken,

    You know… your entire post, word for word could describe me and the Bad Man. I think you hit on something key here too. That is when you are a person of integrity and someone is attacking your character, it draws you in to defend yourself and keeps you cycling. You described that dynamic and it’s one that I know well. There were several times when I said “THAT’S IT!” and I would try to walk away from the situation but he would never let me have the last word. The attacks on my character and the accusations about how I was “being” were so far out there. In the end, when I left, he left me a voicemail, bawling hysterical saying, “How can you do this to ME?! I will never trust you again!!!” Of course he did this with the sound of my airplane flying over head in the back ground. He was so dramatic. Yet, he always accused me of drama.

    I remember also that near the end, I thought to myself more than once, “I don’t know what is going on here but I am in over my head. This is way bigger than me.” That was part of gathering my strenght to get away. I knew that I would not be able to talk to him about leaving in a rational way nor would I be able to live peacefully with him for a few days while I made arrangements to leave.. and so I moved out spontaneously one morning with the help of a friend. But then, in a classic fashion, after my friend helped me to “get away” I did end up spending the last night on the island with the Bad Man after hiding out from him for about 8 days.

    I only share this because I know that most of us have struggled with the bizarre addiction/seduction of these people.

    Anyway, we are not-quite-broken because we are still standing. I know I am stronger and smarter now. And as M.L. says, “I will show up for myself.”

    Aloha… E.R.



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