Editor’s note: The following article refers to spiritual concepts. Please read Lovefraud’s statement on Spiritual Recovery.
How can this be? Is it right, or possible to have compassion for a sociopath? Why should I consider this topic after all the pain that the sociopath has caused me? For some, the very idea may make you angry. If so, my hope is that you read more…
In the beginning, I looked at my father as a spiritual vampire with no soul. A person that lived off of others, consuming their money, emotions, kindness and love, then moving on to another. In my dad’s case, he even took their very lives. He deserved to die, I thought. I was OK with the idea of him being condemned to death and being sent to death row. Why not? He deserves it, right?
When I look at a sociopath what do I see?
The sociopath is someone that cannot experience real love, only mimics it. They treat children and relationships like possessions. My father treated me like he would his favorite car, as long as I was good. He killed people because he thought it would make him feel better. This last statement led me to an important question of my own.
How bad could a person possibly feel inside to believe that killing another person would make them feel better, and what does that say about what value they place on their own life?
Exactly what am I seeing when I look at this picture? Another human being (yes they are human beings) that lives in darkness with no clue as to what life really offers, or a monster? A little bit of both I suppose, but the suffering human existence is something that I had not recognized before, because of the hurt that my dad had caused me.
I am trying not to use so many questions in this post, but I am finding it impossible, because this issue raises so many of them. What happens to a person that causes them to live in darkness with no awareness of what love really is? Image a father not being able to understand the love of a child, but to view them as an expendable possession.
During the recovery process, I became friends with a beautiful spiritual woman who also happens to be a licensed clinical social worker with a PhD. I was not a client of hers, but she became one of my most important teachers just the same. One morning, while demonstrating a wonderful technique that she uses to help people heal past emotional deficits, she treated me to a miraculous gift that corrected years of misunderstanding about my father. Since it is something that must be experienced to be truly understood I will keep my description of it as brief as possible. Words just simply will not do justice to this type of deep work.
My friend helped me to settle into a calm and comfortable state and then she began asking me some questions about my family. She asked me to select items in the room that might represent them, and then she asked me to place them where I felt most comfortable.
First, we started with my father, I selected an object that was hard, rough and had no qualities that resembled a person. I then selected items that represented my mother and me as a small child—items that were soft, had character and appeared to be very inviting, almost cuddly. I placed the item for my father across the room from me, and I set my mother and me close by my side. As I sat with this scene a while and took it all in, I noticed how far away I had placed the cold symbol of my father. It was on the other side of the room, as far from me as I could place it.
She then asked me if I could begin to imagine my father as a very small child, playing in the room in front of me. She asked me what that might look like. I imagined my father as a small little boy about two years old, wandering around the room and playing. I felt a since of warmth come over me. The tension left my body and I could feel my heart begin to soften. She asked me then to pick out an object that represented this image, and I found something soft and loveable that resembled the image I had chosen for me and my mom.
Finally, my friend asked me to create the perfect family for my father and to place them together somewhere in the room. I took the object that was my mother, found another soft object, and placed them right next to me on the couch with my father between the two, but touching. As I looked at this image, she asked me to think about what his life might have been like had he been given everything that he needed. I imagined that for a while, and I felt a sense of deep compassion come over me.
I must say that I have no idea what was lacking in my father’s childhood that made him what he became, but I do know this. I can no longer think of my father without the image of the little boy in that room, a little boy who somewhere along the line didn’t get what he needed either. The emotional deficiency regarding my father is no longer there because it has been replaced with compassion and understanding. The process of forgiveness has been completed for me.
This is a very short space to cover this topic, but this experience along with learning the process of letting go, has allowed me to look at all of my brothers and sisters with compassion. I do not know why some suffer more than others, but I cannot imagine a darker existence that one without God, love and fellowship.
I am not sure why we want to help people that are suffering up to a certain point, then decide they crossed some imaginary line that now justifies killing them?
There is no way to convince someone that has been deeply hurt by a sociopath to have compassion for them, but I found my own freedom in this very change in perspective. For me, it brought a sense of understanding that carries over into all of my relationships. I don’t judge people so much anymore. When I see someone acting out or being cruel, I now wonder “what happened to that person to make them feel that way”. (This does not mean I trust them or interact with them, but I do often pray for them. I find great peace (for myself) in praying for others)
I understand that many people believe that the sociopath is victim to a hopeless human condition. There may be no solution today, but I no longer believe in such a thing as a “hopeless human condition”. Until 1930 alcoholism was considered a hopeless human condition and a Miracle changed everything. They locked alcoholics in insane asylums until a miraculous solution was given to the world that now affects millions of lives.
Personally, I have witnessed too many Miracles to considering anything hopeless. I once thought my life’s situation was hopeless and I was wrong. Thank God! I no longer “think” that I am qualified to determine these things and I am much happier this way. A funny thing happens when each situation is approached with hope (not ignorance, but hope). Miracles Happen.
When I approach life with compassion, compassion is exactly what I find! To give IS the same as to receive.
I will continue to write weekly here, but for those that are interested and willing to go more deeply into the process of letting go, please join A Course In Forgiving (begins January 19, 2012). I did not come here to promote The Course, but to offer it to those that feel moved to do something more about the pain in their lives.
There is no fee of (optional donation of up to $25.00) for the six week online course. This Course is designed to guide participants through the Step by Step Spiritual Process of Letting Go with weekly lessons, readings and exercises that are intended to open the pathway to healing and Peace.
If interested, please visit www.victorythroughpeace.com and click the link in the left hand column titled “Six Week Course Online”. For those that participate, I will be available by phone and email to share experience in addition to this weekly blog on Lovefraud.