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It’s Not About The Sociopath – It Never Has Been

Thank you. My last post seems to have stirred up some strong emotions. Then again I guess that’s my responsibility as a writer – to reach people and get the feelings going. Movement, after all, is surely the only way we can go forward? At the same time, my intent is to stir positive responses, so I decided that this week it would be a good idea to share a bit about the methods I’ve been using to help with my own healing. I recognise that for some the following article may be a bit tricky to digest – which is why I thought long and hard before deciding to post. I remember when I first discovered that everything I had believed in was just a lie, I was far too raw to ever have been able to contemplate some of the things I am about to share with you – my heart and my love goes out to all of you who are in that place. I know from my own experience that it takes time to come through – and the most important thing is to be gentle on ourselves during the healing process, particularly in the early days. I hope that for others of you who are already on the move, my message is more immediately helpful. Either way, my heartfelt wish is that this can be a useful piece for you here on Lovefraud – now and/or in the future.

Okay… I started by talking about my ‘responsibility’ and so this week I have chosen to write about my take on the meaning of the word.

Before going in to that in any detail, I’d like to start off by saying that I believe all of us (yes ALL of us) already have the power to heal. I get the feeling though (certainly from my own experience) that many of us have forgotten that we have a huge inner resource of strength and power. I acknowledge that through our relationships with abusive people, our inner strength can be pushed down, boxed, manipulated and damaged to the point where we believe we really are useless and powerless. That we’ve become the small weak person the sociopaths would have us believe. That we end up thinking “well, he/she was right all along. I’m worthless. They’ve won”

And I’m here to say that I believe this is simply not the case. I’m aware this may appear somewhat controversial, but I invite you to consider the notion that perhaps it is BECAUSE of our inner strength that the sociopath was attracted in the first place? That, perhaps, it’s BECAUSE we have love in our hearts and a strong soul they wanted to possess and control us? After all, assuming that’s the case, then we already have – we’ve ALWAYS had – the very things that they can never EVER attain for themselves. So now it’s up to us to reclaim ourselves – to find a way where we can stand up tall and proud, and become the person we truly are. That, at least, has been my take during my journey, and I’d like to start sharing some of the techniques that have helped me along the way.

So let’s continue with the word ‘responsibility’. For many, the word invokes heavy or burdensome connotations. In my leadership training groups for example, delegates often tell me that they feel a weight on their shoulders, or a need to behave in a certain way so that they can fulfill the serious expectations that responsibility carries with it. They perceive it as a load, something they have to carry – so the word itself, therefore, can often have negative associations. And I think that’s a shame… I also think it’s untrue.

I’m sure you can imagine the scene when I bring this up with leadership groups. I will often be met with a room full of suddenly the folded arms and a series of harrumphs as delegates hunker down for a battle. “What?” they’ll grumble “We are leaders! We have to bear the burden of responsibility! It’s not easy you know!” And this is where the training starts.

The same as I do with these groups, I would like to invite you to explore another perspective. One that, in my opinion, can be a much more empowering way to look at what responsibility really means.

Let’s imagine, for a moment, that we can break the word in to two – “response” and “ability”…. Meaning our ability to respond. Or, if you prefer, our choice as to how we are going to respond to a situation. It’s our opportunity to re-consider our actions, rather than coming back with a habitual or emotion-driven response.

It’s like this, you see. I often witness people telling me that “it’s his/her fault” or “my boss is to blame for my unhappiness in my job” or “my family makes me feel bad” or “that psychopath ex still makes me boil with fury”. You get the picture?

I believe with all my heart and soul, that the more we place the ‘blame’ on another person or situation, all we are doing is giving away our own power. We can shout and roar as much as we like – or mumble and whisper, it doesn’t really matter. My point is that while we continue to focus outside of ourselves we are blocking our own ability to develop. The result is that instead of moving forward, we remain stuck in the very place we say we don’t like!

Imagine, for a moment, that you are pointing your finger at someone – or something. You’ll most likely have your index finger pointing out, with the rest of your hand curled in to a loose fist shape. All your frustrations are directed outside of you along that one finger. Don’t get me wrong, it may well feel good to do that… but at the same time, I’d like you to consider where your other fingers are pointing. Who are they pointing to? Who, therefore, might we be forgetting during a (justifiable) outpouring of frustration? Yup, we’re forgetting ourselves in the matter.

Again, at this point, my leadership groups will often become even more agitated “What, you’re telling me that it’s MY fault? That I’M to blame?” Of course, this is not the message I am giving them. But they have become so wrapped up in their frustration at whatever situation it is we’re discussing, that they find it difficult to move beyond that point. As I said earlier, they remain stuck.

No, the point I am making is to recognize that for the one finger that’s pointing away from us, we have three more pointing back at us. This hand gesture invites us to consider what else we can do in any given situation. It’s a reminder that we have more control than we often think. Three times the power. Three times more choices available to us. Because we have the opportunity to decide exactly how we are going to respond at any time – it’s just up to us to make the most of it.

OK, you may be thinking, that’s all well and good, but what does that mean to me? How can that help me in my situation?  Or, as some delegates insist on telling me at the beginning of a training course “Well, it’s different for me you know!” Of course it’s different for them – it’s different for us all. And that, paradoxically, is where it’s also exactly the same. Because each and every one of us is unique.

It’s true, we can’t necessarily change the behavior of another. But we can always change our own behavior. And by changing our own behavior, well, then we’ve broken the communication dance of which we find ourselves a part. I’ll explain what I mean. Imagine you are going to shake somebody’s hand. They will give you their hand and you will shake it – because that’s what’s expected. That’s the automatic response, the well-rehearsed ‘steps’ that we’re used to dancing. Now this time, imagine instead that when you go to shake that same person’s hand, you pull away at the last moment. What happens to that other person? They will have to do something different, because you have broken the dance. Do you see what I am getting at?

For me, quite early on in my healing, I decided that I would have a different response to matters every time I felt hurt, confused or downright furious at the situation I found myself in. I chose to ‘break the dance’. Don’t get me wrong, it didn’t come easy. But with practice, I discovered I felt freer and lighter as a result.

I acknowledge that my next statement is likely to prove controversial, but I decided that I would consciously choose to thank my ex for his actions, rather than dwell on the pain and suffering. I decided that each time I was hit with yet another debt, or more evidence of his betrayals, instead of automatically pointing the finger I would instead stop, get myself still, take a deep breath and ask myself “what can I do to feel better? How can I use my own power to make a positive difference to this situation?”

That’s when the learning happens. That’s when my brain searches for other alternatives. That’s when I look around my surroundings and realize that I’m still alive. I have my son. I have food on my table. I no longer have to pander to his demands – I am no longer the squashed manipulated woman I had been for far too long. And all of a sudden I can start to feel grateful. Grateful that he’s gone. Grateful that I have the opportunity to rebuild my life – for me. And, as I said before, it usually ends up with my thanking my ex. It doesn’t mean I forgive his actions. Neither does it mean that I feel any compassion for him. It DOES mean that I’m free from the pain – and that is a gift to myself.

It’s not easy – I’ve said that before. To quote the phrase ‘better the devil you know’ it often seems easier to stay with the old habits. Those same old habits that keep us stuck. Change and healing takes determination – and when things don’t go quite as planned we can get discouraged. But how do we resist the temptation to dwell on the difficulties? To fall back in to the gaping hole of misery? I believe the solution is to identify a ‘space’ where we can feel good – if not good, then at the very least a bit better! For me, I often use music to help me change the way I feel – two of my regular song choices have been Labbi Syffre’s “Something Inside So Strong” and Nina Simone’s “I Got Life” (with the accompanying video to a yoghurt advert). I also write to change my mood. One of my best friends goes out to tend her garden, another turns to cooking, and another takes himself out for a walk. What we do doesn’t matter in the slightest – it’s just about finding something, anything that can help us stay on track to achieving our end goal. To heal and to reclaim our life.

As I have said many times on my blog, this is NOT about him, it never has been. This is about ME. Since discovering the truth I have refused to allow him to impact on my journey – no matter how hard he may have tried to hurt me, I simply will not let it happen anymore. I can always choose my own responses, no matter what is going on around me – and most of the time that is exactly what I do. Yes, there are times when I forget, and there are many more times when it’s been hard work to find an alternative. But with persistence, focus, and a determination to create a better life for my son and myself, most of the times I get there.

For all of us who have been hurt by someone else, the most important thing is to remember that we DO have the power to do something about it. We CAN change the way we feel, and by doing so we change our immediate experience and increase our ability to heal. Perhaps our biggest challenge is simply to acknowledge that fact. As I said earlier, I am convinced that we must already have demonstrated our inner strength to attract a sociopath in the first place. Does that mean we should now hide our light under a bushel? Does that mean we should now stay in the fear and pain? Or does that mean we should reclaim who we are, fan the flames of passion and become even stronger than we were before? Surely that’s the best revenge against those who tried to put us down in the first place, isn’t it?

So next time a proverbial ‘hand’ is offered to you, are you going to shake it automatically? Are you going to continue with a habitual response? Or are you going to move your hand away, step back and take control of the dance? It’s up to all of us, of course, to choose the route we take – not just sometimes, but all of the time.

Incidentally, once my leadership groups grasp the sense of what I mean, I am always met with a room full of calm and smiling faces. They feel safe in the knowledge that responsibility is something they’ve always had – it’s just that now they know how to use it more wisely.

I hope this has been helpful – I welcome your thoughts and feedback.

Until next week, love and blessings to all my new friends here on Lovefraud!

 



287 Comments on "It’s Not About The Sociopath – It Never Has Been"

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  1. skylar says:

    OneJoy,
    Your post was not at all inappropriate. I do appreciate your insight and your concern. You are right, there is that bit of anxiety but mostly it’s caution.

    Here’s a very good article that might help some of us understand our choices.
    http://glo.msn.com/relationships/love-lessons-1534338.story?gt1=49006

    Superkid, this article might be very eye opening for you. Though I’m sure you’ve read lots of books, this article succinctly states it.



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  2. one/joy_step_at_a_time says:

    sky – thanks for the link. have started to read it, and it’s good. xo oj (haha)



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  3. Ox Drover says:

    Great Link, Sky, that is an excellent article….that book mentioned at the end sounds like a good one too.



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  4. jeannie812 says:

    I was over at neighbor lady’s house tonight. Of course the subject of Jim came up because he irritates her to no end. That is always my cue to strongly make my point that I want him to stay away from me. I feel it is necessary to keep this reminder going cause when I wasn’t persistent she didn’t think it was important. Actually I had to get aggressive and hostile, and when she finally got my point it was easy to give small reminders.

    I told her I was Jim’s ATM with benefits. She got a laugh out of it and she got the point. I won’t even say hi to him because he would use it as a gateway. She got my point on that too.

    Yes, Jim was attracted to me cause I am easy going, he knew he had a push-over. Looking back he noticed me long before I knew he existed. He noticed my son working me for ice cream at the gas station. He pursued me. He worked on me for money and his material things.

    Yes, Jim saw that I pay my bills and he found that he had a stable host to latch on to. Like the author of this blog says .. he was attracted to me cause he could have it easy.

    I broke up with Jim 13 months ago. Yes, I count that extra month. A month without being used and abused, and yelled and screamed at, and accused of fucking every guy, is a celebration. Yes one month without that is a breath of fresh air.
    I count all 13 months and I will count 14 months and so on until the devil gives up. And then I may keep on counting the months just because I’m am so shakin from the shell-shock of that war zone.



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  5. skylar says:

    Jeannie
    I’m a bit concerned about the neighbor lady.
    can you be sure that you can trust her? Spaths and their minions will fake emotion… as you know.

    From what you have said, she had him visiting her for quite some time.

    To say that he irritates her, is not saying much. A normal person would feel disgust and revulsion for a spath. Be careful what you divulge to her.



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  6. Ox Drover says:

    Dear Jeannie, COUNT THE DAYS, the HOURS AND THE MINUTES if it helps you!

    Yea, with others we do have to be careful sometimes that they don’t act as SPIES for the psychopaths…and both Sky and I have been betrayed by these spies—multiple spies, multiple times, until we finally got to the point that we don’t trust too easily any more.

    I LOVED THE “ATM WITH BENEFITS” line! That is a great one! Glad you at least got a good one-liner out of it!@ I am sure that there are several people here, Donna for one, who could qualify for your “ATM with BENEFITS CLUB!” LOL



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  7. gillpen says:

    Dear Mel,

    Stumbled upon this website whilst looking for advice and recovery information last night. Great article. You’ve given me some excellent reminders here, and for that I feel compelled to thank you. I especially liked the bit about “response – ability” and am thinking of pinning it up a few places.

    Gosh, this road is a hard one and I still have a long way to go. My experience(s) left me with severe anxiety and panic attacks so I feel almost choked up writing this: I have the ability to choose how to respond.



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  8. bluemosaic says:

    Thank you Mel,
    This article really helps me own my side of the equation. I am an ACA -12 step person. I went into this spath-lationship having already had years of recovery and growth…proof that I still had some deep inner core child-shame-abandonment issues, that were not fully healed.
    I do know that he is unlike any one else I have dealt with and that I am not responsible for all the ugly cruel things he is and did. I am responsible for how I responded.
    Shortly after our relationship ended, I realized that at some point in every deep relationship I have had with a man, I have always ended up in the same place…literally and figuratively, on the floor crying-a broken little girl. That was not about him, it was about me. I stayed to the point where I ended up there again…and then I “SAW” that I found someone who would do to me what I constantly want to repeat in my life….send me back to the place I was as a child who was getting abused. Maybe I needed to go back there to collect her, pick her up off the floor of my childhood.
    I am not a little girl anymore…I can get up off the floor and say…

    “no, I will not let you dishonor me, wound, disrespect, violate me…I will leave this place and be a victim no more.”

    I have the power to learn from this, heal what was done to me….and choose to walk away if I meet another who asks me to destroy myself to please his sick and craven soul.
    I am not responsible for spath’s behavior or craven-emotionless soul. I am responsible for dropping my conciousness and allowing violation of my being. He was a lesson from God…perhaps God allows spath’s for same reason he allows all tragedies on this planet…to bring something good from the aftermath that is not apparent to us while in our pain but nonetheless was necessary in order to refine our being…evolvement. I do not thank him yet…I just know that I will heal…he never had the power to destroy me…I will overcome what he did…what I allowed.

    Peace to all,

    Blue



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