By Joyce Alexander, RNP (retired)
If you are not willing to learn,
No one can help you.
If you are determined to learn,
No one can stop you.
A friend shared that saying with me today in an email and it made me think about what we say here at Lovefraud when we encourage a new poster to read and learn about psychopaths, to arm themselves with knowledge: “Knowledge is power.”
Knowledge is a powerful tool in our lives. If we have no education, we are powerless, as we see in people who have dropped out of school illiterate. We encourage our children to do the best they can in school, to go on to higher education, so that they are better prepared in life, have more power to determine their life course.
In dealing with a psychopath, our knowledge of them is important. It shows us what to expect out of them, and that we are not going to be able to help them. Our knowledge of the psychopaths shows us that we must take care of ourselves (and our children) first and not worry about trying to “fix” the psychopath. Our knowledge of the psychopaths shows us that the best way to defend ourselves is No Contact. Our knowledge shows us that No Contact protects us from further wounds and that each and every time we break this “contract with ourselves,” we are injured, wounded.
Learning about ourselves
The knowledge that gives us power, though, isn’t limited to knowledge about psychopaths. Our power-giving knowledge extends to learning about ourselves. I’ve often said here that, “It starts out learning about them, but ends up with us learning about ourselves.” The more I learn, the more I realize that what I have learned about psychopaths is small indeed compared to the huge amount I have learned about myself.
The learning about the psychopath encourages me to stay no contact and to realize that they are dangerous, but the learning about myself has encouraged me to change. The learning has encouraged me to learn what I need to know to keep myself safe from the next trolling psychopath looking for a vulnerable victim. It has also taught me how to set boundaries, and how important boundaries are for keeping me safe from anyonewho would use or abuse me in any way.
The knowledge I have gained has also made me take a long, hard look at my own “moral compass,” what I know to be right and what I know to be wrong. It has made me more determined to hold fast to keep myself on that “straight and narrow” path of the “do right” rule. If I am doing right, I know that I am doing okay. It makes me realize that the people I want in my “circle of intimacy” are also people who adhere to the “do right” rule and are honest, trustworthy and reliable. The Bible says that “evil companions corrupt good morals,” and this is right. If we are around people who do dishonest things, then those things become more “normalized,” and we tend to think, “ah, it’s not so bad, everyone does it.” So the people we associate with have a profound influence on our own moral compass. Just as I wouldn’t want my kids running around with or associating with “thugs,” I also need to be cautious of who I associate with.
I am worthy
Learning more about myself, and what I want out of life, has also taught me that I am worthy of being treated the way I want to be treated. I deserve to be treated well by those I associate with. I treat others well, but I will also expect that they will treat me well as well. I will not associate with those who treat me poorly.
I have also learned that I must treat myself as well as I expect others to treat me. This means that I stop doing things to my body that are likely to cause health problems: over eating, over drinking, use of nicotine or other drugs, lack of exercise, lack of sleep, lack of proper medical care. I will care for myself well—mentally, physically and spiritually.
Meeting my responsibilities to myself is important, but meeting my responsibilities to others is also important. Seeing that my children are properly taken care of, and parented well, that my job is done well both at home and at my employment are important aspects of the life plan for myself. I will allot my available time in such a way that all my responsibilities are met in a timely manner, and that includes recreation and relaxation.
Another thing I have learned about myself is that, in the past, I tended to take on as “my responsibility” things that were actually not my responsibilities. I had been taught and believed from an early age that other people’s happiness was my responsibility. I have now learned that I am not responsible for others’ happiness. They are responsible for their own happiness. By not taking on things that are not my responsibility, I have more time for myself and those things I am responsible for.
In addition, I have learned that now that my kids are grown and my husband passed away, I am not responsible for providing room, board and shelter for anyone, no matter who they are. While I believe that it is my duty to share with others less fortunate than myself, it is not my responsibility to provide for those who are unwilling to provide for themselves. My hospitality to my friends and family is entirely voluntary on my part. When people come to my house, it is my house, my rules.
Taking back my power
Knowledge indeed is power. I have assumed my power. I’d like to think I have taken “back” my power, but I’m not sure I ever really knew I had it, or if I did, I sure didn’t use it when I didn’t take care of myself, and took on responsibilities for others that were not legitimately mine. I didn’t exercise my power when I allowed others to repeatedly use and abuse me.
Now that I know better, I am doing better. I am taking care of myself, allowing others to take responsibility for themselves, even if they fail. I am setting boundaries and eliminating the people in my life who do not share a complementary moral compass. My life is starting to be filled with joy and peace, love and laughter, because it is not weighted down with cares brought on by lack of knowledge or by failing to use that knowledge to take care of myself.
Learn and take hold of your power!