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The miracle of freedom after the sociopath is gone

I believe in miracles.

Not the rock your world, holy saints and rising apparitions kind of miracles. But rather, the light shifting, change your life, in this moment kind of miracle that takes you by the hand and guides you home. The kind of miracle that awakens you to the truth that this moment is all you’ve got. The kind of miracle that says, grab me and run with me or lose the miracle of your life forever.

I know about miracles like that. I got one on a sunny May morning five years ago when I had given myself up for dead. Well, not dead-dead, but rather, the walking breathing dead kind of living that leeches all energy from your body and leaves you without hope of ever finding a way back to the land of the living.

My miracle appeared in the form of a blue and white police car driving up and arresting the sociopath who had been lying and cheating and manipulating and abusing me for the length of our four year nine month relationship.

When first we’d met I thought his name was Prince Charming. I loved the view of the short cut to happiness he promised me and jumped onto the runaway train of his promises of happily ever after. I never expected to find myself lost in hell, in cahoots with the Prince of Darkness and praying for a miracle I didn’t believe I deserved, to set me free.

But then, that’s the funny thing about miracles. They don’t come looking for believers. They just appear, like stars in a darkened sky coming out at night. It’s not that they weren’t there all along, it’s just lost in the pit of despair, we lose sight of the miracles around us. Too frightened to open our eyes in the blinding light of day, we shut out the world and crawl into the cave of desperation, shutting ourselves off from belief and hope and possibility and even miracles.

It was a miracle the police found us. He was hiding out, trying to escape the country, and I was hiding behind the smile I’d pasted on my face, pretending to be the person he told me to be, or else. The miracle saved me from finding out what the ‘or else’ might be.

Looking back, it was a miracle I was still alive. I had seventy-two cents in my pocket, a few clothes and my beautiful Golden Retriever, Ellie, who had travelled that rocky road beside me, faithfully keeping step to my faltering footsteps as I travelled further and further from life as I knew it.

I don’t know who said this, but I find it very powerful, “Change is the essence of life. Be willing to surrender what you are for what you could become.”

On that day in May, five years ago, I knew I didn’t get a miracle to live in pain and sorrow. I knew I got the miracle to live in joy. But, in the process of losing myself on the road to hell, I had become someone I didn’t recognize, someone I didn’t love. I knew I had to change. I feared I didn’t know how.

Change is always possible. Ending something that isn’t working for me requires me to change what I’m doing. When I awoke from that relationship, there was very little that was working in my life. So much was broken, so much was in disarray.

To change my life, I had to surrender my disease and embrace my ability to heal. To heal, I had to change the anger into forgiveness. The sorrow into laughter. The hatred into love. I had to let go of who I had become on that journey and fall into love with who I could become in healing by letting go of my fear of falling and learning how to fly free from the pain of the past.

And so, on that morning in May when my world changed and I began to see there was light beyond the darkness, I grabbed my miracle and set out to recover my joy. Step by step. Moment by moment. And, in the process I uncovered the greatest miracle of my life. Me.

I believe in miracles. I am one.

The question is: What do you believe in? Do you believe you’re some big cosmic experiment gone awry in one hopelessly lost human being, or a miracle of life, unique and magnificent, a shining example of the best of human being, full of possibilities, endlessly in love with the wonder and the miracle of being you?



88 Comments on "The miracle of freedom after the sociopath is gone"

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  1. OxDrover says:

    Orphan,

    The thing is about boundaries—everyone has SOME boundaries–but let’s just say that one of your boundaries is “I will not sleep with you, John, if you sleep with other women.”

    Then “John” says, “Well, sugar, that’s too bad cause I intend to sleep with every woman who will spread her legs, take it or leave it”

    Do you think John cares a rat’s behind about you? Of course not. Do you want John in your life? I WOULDN’T EVEN CONSIDER IT.

    All boundaries don’t have to be “put up or else” or “f#&K YOU!”

    They can be, when you share a house with another person and they are always barging into your bedroom without knocking (and let’s say there is no lock on the door” or other way and you say, “Sue, It upsets me when you barge into my room without knocking. Please knock before you come in, and let me say come in before you open the door. OK?

    That’s a boundary—no threats, just stating your preferences. If they RESPECT YOU, they will do their best to abide by this. If they do NOT respect you they will not make any effort to conform to your requests.

    You do have a choice to not feel guilty, if you have DONE NOTHING WRONG. If you HAVE done something wrong, you SHOULD feel guilty. That’s having a conscience, it is what sets you apart from a P.

    I’m sorry your uncle and you didn’t speak after that break, but ALL boundaries don’t have to be complete breaks and BIG DEALS—it just depends on what the problem is.

    If the problem with your favorite uncle was that he wanted to “feel you up” then it might BE A BIG DEAL, but in that case, you would have no reason to feel guilty either.

    We have to take responibility for our own behaviors, and expect others to take the responsibility for THEIR behaviors. That’s ALL boundaries are.

    It is better to address things when they are “small”–like “John, I realize you are angry, but I do NOT appreciate being called a bitch. When you are ready to talk tome respectfully, we will settle this problem.” (Then walk away) That is setting and enforcing a boundary.

    My very best friend in the world only has a high school education, she is VERY bright but has a feeling that people who have a college degree are “looking down on her” (her own insecurity) If I even in casual conversation with her and others present mention college in any way, she gets catty and says something snotty to me about people who have a college degree” I used to ignore this type of thing from her, but it did hurt my feelings and I made every effort in the world not to “offend” her in anyway but sometimes she would make some really CATTY remark to me.

    The last time I went to visit her (she spends a couple of weeks with me each year and I with her and then other visits as we live 350 miles away so it is several days if one of us comes) anyway, just out of the BLUE she said something really snotty to me. I turned and walked away, went to the spare abedroom and started packing my suitcase. She followed me and then asked me what I was doing. I replied (not screamed or anything else just said) “I came down here to help you remodel your kitchen, I didn’t come down here to be screamed at and insulted. It hurts me when you snap at me like that and I don’t want that.”

    She apologized (sincerely) and she has not made a snotty remark to me since. I love this woman and she loves me, I have no doubt…but HER problems with her self esteem are not going to be allowed by ME to flow over to me in the way of nasty remarks. I don’t need it, I don’t want it, and if she insists of doing that, it could and would eventually ruin our relationship.

    I’m not all that “hard to get along with”—I am willing to compromise, etc. but I am not going to be dictated to, spoken to disrespectfully, or USED any more—no matter who it is. I am done with it. I am a WHOLE person and it is a priviledge to be in my company. I will share anything I have with those I love, but I am not a patsy to be put on the spot to “take anyone to raise.”

    Several of you have talked about being “transparent” and I am transparent to those that I love, I don’t keep secrets, or withold information about my feelings or what I want or need, or what I am willing or unwilling to do. I’ve done too much of that in my life and I’m tired of apologizing to others for THE INCONVENIENCE of my hard head breaking their baseball bat when they hit me in the head from behind.

    I’m tired of lies and deceptions and people who feel entitled.

    It doesn’t mean I am walking around with a chip on my shoulder, daring others to knock it off so we can fight, but I am openly expressing my feelings in a reasonable, rational, and caring manner rather than supressing them, and feeling hurt, then “pretending none of this happened.”



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  2. LilOrphan says:

    Free:

    I think the guilt comes from knowing how I would feel if I were abandoned, or being able to put myself in someone else’s shoes. I left my spouse and started over with nothing but furniture and two small kids. Granted, it took awhile longer than it may have taken some, but less time than it took others.

    Why do I feel bad about leaving? The reasons are numerous, too many to post here and many of them go very deep, and some of them I’m sure even I don’t consciously know.

    I agree that I do not deserve bad treatment, from anyone and that by not creating and enforcing boundaries I am basically accepting the bad behaviors. I knew this going into things, but lost sight of it along the way. I lost sight of a lot of things along the way.



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  3. Ariadne says:

    I just found this great site with lots of info about dealing with stuff like creating boundaries and being assertive.

    http://www.coping.org/

    Lilorphan,
    I think your guilt might have something to do with feeling responsible for other people and their happiness. If from a young age, we are blamed for problems that we didn’t cause or situations beyond our control, we tend to take responsibility for things that aren’t our problem. No one is responsible for the happiness or well being of another adult. We can only support them in a healthy relationship.

    Abusers use that to convince us that all their misfortunes stem from our failure as partners and family members. That’s crap. People who know you will accept responsibility for their lives will keep handing it over to you and it never ends until you learn to set boundaries.

    Reasonable good hearted people will accept those boundaries and respect your need for your own space. Abusers and disordered people will bully or guilt you into withdrawing those boundaries so that they can use you again. It’s up to you to stick to your guns and stop taking responsibilty for their lives so you can live your own.

    Family members are sometimes the worst offenders. Sometimes, if their presence is super toxic, NC is needed. If not, enforcing those boundaries is necessary. It does get easier though, because if your family realizes that you won’t let them walk all over you anymore, they are less likely to ask you to take on their responsibilities in the future.

    For example, my mom means well, but she constantly tries to control me by giving “gifts” that will mold me into what she wants me to be. If I reject the gifts, she tries to make me feel guilty for insulting her and her “generosity.” She gives me clothes that I would never wear in a million years because that is the image she wants me to conform to. I don’t accept them anymore, and in private I acknowledge what her behavior is doing by saying,” I know you mean well, but I don’t like this style of clothes and you know it. If you like it, you should wear it yourself. You need some new clothes anyway.” The gifts have gotten more scarce and I don’t feel guilty like I used to when I hid them in the back of the closet and lied to her about liking them.



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  4. OxDrover says:

    Orphan,

    ALL boundaries don’t have to be “deal breakers” but there are SOME behaviors that NO “normal” person (if there is such a thing) would tolerate REPEATEDLY…that is what WE have to FIX IN OURSELVES. I think everyone here on this blog has had boundary setting/enforcing problems (there may be some exceptions). We can’t fix their willingness to cross those boundaries, but we HAVE TO FIX OURSELVES, or we will go back into another P-relationship and it is just a repeating cycle.

    I realize that you have and should have different boundaries for friends/loved-ones than for complete strangers. If your best friend says, Hey, Orphan, I need to borrow $5 til pay day, you would of course loan it to them, if a stranger said the same thing most likelly you would not give it to them. Why should you. BUT let’s say your friend does this over and over and NEVER PAYS YOU BACK—how long do you let it go on until you say “Susie, you have borrowed $5 from me every day for the last month and you never pay it back, I’m sorry I can’t keep on doing this.” Now, if Susie says “Well, Orphan, then F you! You make more money than I do and you owe me for being your friend. ” Do you feel guilty? YOU HAVE a CHOICE about how you feel about her remark.

    Sometimes the “guilt chip” in our minds is so deeply implanted that we think it is automatic and that we have NO control over it, but YES WE DO HAVE CONTROL OVER IT. We have to exercise that control though, we have to first of all RECOGNIZE it, and then use our ADULT RATIONAL MINDS to say, “you know, I feel guilty because I told Uncle Monster to get the hell out of my life, but it was NOT OK for him to hit me in the nose. Therefore it is HIS PROBLEM not mine. He not only did not apologize, but said if I didn’t let him use my car he would hit me again.” (or whatever the situation was)

    You CAN rationalize yourself out of this irrational and defeating guilty feeling, but you have to recognize that you CAN and that it is not “normal” or GOOD. Work on it. It can be done. My guilt chip kicked in every time I defied my mother, no matter how RIGHT I WAS, or what the situation was, I FELT GUILT—but I have realized now that my mother is a P-by-proxy because of her protecting my P-son, and punishing me because I won’t go along with the family “line” of “let’s all just pretend that none of this happened, just pretend that your son never tried to kill you, just pretend that I didn’t totally D & D you, just pretend I never called you a psychopoath, just pretend I never looked at you like you were scum, after all, it is YOUR FAULT YOU KNOW, you were not respectful to me, you raised your voice to me, and the Ps were always “respectful” and besides, your P son told me he was sorry if it appeared he had done anything wrong, he really didn’t of course, etc” Do you see how stupid that sounds? Of course you do, because it is MY mother, MY son, but you need, also, I thinnk, to look at your OWN situation.

    See where your “logic tree” had been cut down by the GUILTY AXE. Then throw that axe away! I am finally getting to where I can silence the ABNORMAL guilt chip by listening to the logic. It takes work, reinforcement, and logic, but it is FINALLY working because I KNOW I CAN DO IT. I CAN HEAL MYSELF, TAKE OUT THE FAULTY WIRING that was implanted in my heart and mind. I AM THE LITTLE ENGINE THAT COULD BECAUSE I THINK I CAN, I KNOW I CAN, I CAN! (((HUGS))))



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  5. uksurvivor says:

    Hi everyone

    I’m not sure if this is the right place to post this question, but here goes.

    I’ve recently discovered, through psychotherapy, that I’m not the worthless, vile, mad, f**king b*tch that I’d been led to believe that I was by my ex S. It turns out that I’m actually a pretty nice person!

    However, during the time I was involved with the S, I did some horrible things. For example, we had some friends who suddenly decided that they didn’t want to be our friends any more. The S was always the one who arranged our social life so I didn’t even have the phone number of these people to ask them why they didn’t want to be our friends any more. The S told me it was my fault. He said that they didn’t like the way I had flirted with all the men in the room the last time we had gone out clubbing with them. He cried buckets when he was telling me this. I really couldn’t remember there being a problem the last time we had gone out with them but he said I was too drunk to remember! It really didn’t add up but when I questioned him further he he just got really angry and aggressive with me, so I left it. He then spent the next several weeks seeming to be suffering with depression from having lost his friends. I did everything i could to make him feel better because I felt so guilty that he’d lost his friends because of me. Although i didn’t have a telephone number for the couple, i knew their address and after a few weeks I wrote a really, really nasty letter to them. Telling them what horrible people they were and how much they’d hurt my (then) husband. I never received a reply.

    Years later, when I had finally clicked on that there was something seriously amiss with this man, i started to investigate things that had happened in the past that had never quite rung true. I contacted this couple again. They told me that the reason they’d halted the friendship was absolutely nothing to do with me. The S had been on a night out with them (I’d been left at home as usual) and had slept at their house overnight along with several of their other guests. During the night, he had gone into a room where one of the other female guests was sleeping and had attempted to have sex with her against her will. He was very lucky that she did not press charges. Consequently, our friends terminated the relationship with him and therefore with me too.

    The S managed to convince them that it was a one off incident and not to tell me. So, even when they received my letter, which was full of malice and vitriol, they still didn’t contact me. Although they realised that the S had lied to me about the reason for the friendship’s demise, they did not want to tell me the truth and possibly be responsible for causing our marriage to fail. I shall always wonder what my reaction would have been if they had contacted me? Would I have believed them? Would I have left him? Would I have been saved from losing the thousands of pounds (sterling) that he later took from me? I’ll never know.

    What I want to know is this – writing a letter like the letter I wrote, is completely contrary to my usual personality. It was a nasty thing to do and I shall always feel ashamed for doing it. Have other people out there had a similar experience? Have you done horrible things to other people whilst you were with your S, things that you would never normally do?



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  6. OxDrover says:

    When we believe their lies, and boy was that a TYPICAL lie and blame placing on his part–he KNEW why those people didn’t want to see HIM again, and he cleverly placed the blame on YOU–and you fell for it. Of course you were angry at these people for “hurting” your dear innocent hubby because they didn’t like YOU. How cruel of them!

    Would you have believed them? Probably not. I have been “warned” repeatedly about Ps and blown off the warning every time. NO MORE will I do that. Sometimes it is difficult to distinguish malicious gossip from a warning, but I will ALWAYS listen and at least do some SERIOUS investigation from another sourse to determine if it is gossip or truth.

    Don’t beat yourself up, with the information you had (a lie) you did waht many people would have done, you tried to protect your loved one. (((hugs))))



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  7. eyesopened says:

    This post and commentary has so many beautifully written truths in it: the power of miracles, the verse from Corinthians, the observation by the police officer and this perfectly-distilled concept from Free:

    Q: “My only question is this: how do you stop loving that person?”
    A: “I stopped loving him, when I started loving me and concentrating on me and my son. Their actions are simply not lovable.”

    It took time to wean myself away from focusing on him but it was only when I examined all of his cruel and heartless actions purposely directed toward me that I realized I hadn’t deserved any of them.

    Through that process, I looked at my qualities in contrast. I am, and was, kind, loving, fun-loving, funny, responsible, considerate and compassionate. Nothing I ever did warranted his uncaring and resentful behavior toward me. He had his own agenda running in his head.

    It wasn’t until I saw both of us in comparison like that that I was able to make the shift from taking my eyes off of him and back onto me. All of a sudden, I was the one who was worthy of praise and focus.

    I’m tempted to say I had to get that sense of pride in myself back but, truthfully, now on the other side of it all, I realize I never had it in the first place.

    I’m proud of me for loving purely even though he didn’t appreciate it or want it.

    I’m proud of me that I was true to myself and behaved as beautifully and honestly as I could through it all even in his cruelest moments.

    I’m proud that I can say I never intentionally hurt anyone else through it all.

    And I’m proud that I was strong enough to work this so I could emerge a more enlightened person.

    Those are all things he can never claim.

    It was only that experience – or series of experiences – of looking at both of us in side-by-side comparison that the shift occurred for me, slowly refocusing my attention from him back to me, that allowed me to stop loving him.

    The bonus is that I can truly say, I really do love myself now. I like the person I am and the way I treat others.

    If he was around, he would just whittle that away.



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