Editor’s note: The following post was written by the Lovefraud reader “Adelade.”
According to my counseling therapist, I became involved with sociopaths as a result of their motivations and their abilities to note my strengths and vulnerabilities. My vulnerabilities were formed during my childhood and manifested as a crippling condition termed, “shame core.”
This core was based upon my experiences in a dysfunctional family environment of alcoholism. For whatever reasons, I believed that I was responsible for the happiness and well-being of everyone, and I mean everyone. This false sense of responsibility prepared me for a lifetime of fear-based decisions and choices that included marrying two sociopaths in a row.
Fear is a visceral response to threat or danger. When a child feels that they are “in danger” of being cold, unloved, hungry, and dirty, the response is to do whatever they can to avoid being cold, unloved, hungry, or dirty. If a child feels “threatened” with abandonment, dismissal, humiliation, abuse, molestation, hunger, or any other negative situation, that child will do whatever they can to avoid the threats.
Childhood threats — real or imagined
For me, these fears were based upon experiences that were, at the time, facts. I was neglected, dismissed, unfed, unwashed, verbally and emotionally abused, abandoned, and humiliated on a constant basis. The humiliation of being neglected fed the Abandonment Monkey. The Abandonment Monkey would then pull the tail of the Un-Love-Able Monkey who would, in turn, scream at the Humiliation Monkey. Once this cycle begins for a child, it becomes a living, breathing part of their persona unless strong steps are taken to alter the child’s core beliefs of themselves.
How that fear translated into my core beliefs of myself were that I was abandoned, humiliated, unfed, and dismissed because something that I had done (or, failed to do). That meant that I was unworthy of love, undeserving of nutrition, and that I was, in essence, a waste of human tissue.
Adult threats — real or imagined
As I moved into adulthood, these core issues and beliefs became the driving force behind nearly every decision and choice that I made. From partners to college courses, my fears of abandonment and feeling unworthy caused me to make some very tragic choices. In the case of the first abusive spath spouse, I was targeted and responded to the typical spath love bombing and empty promises because the sociopath was himself a tragic figure. His childhood story was appallingly sad and he was always beneath some mystical black cloud that I believed that I could help him to escape. If I demonstrated how much I loved and believed in this tragic man, he would, in turn, love me back and never leave me because I had proven my value to him by sacrificing for him. Well, of course, this course of decision-making was catastrophic on every level for me, and the children produced from this union.
The Self Destruction Exhibit
My fears of abandonment, ridicule, and the rest are what fueled all of the monkeys in the Self Destruction Exhibit, and I remained in an environment of violent abuse because of those fears. I wasn’t worthy of a strong and healthy relationship, nor was I deserving of educating myself and discovering my own independence. The monkeys kept me tied to a co-dependency that nearly drove me to suicide.
There seemed no other way out for me. I couldn’t take care of myself because I had been caring for everyone else throughout my lifetime. Whether it was a violent husband or sick children, I took my own needs entirely off of the stove and honestly believed that this was how it was supposed to be. I honestly believed that martyring myself would, someday, result in a Supreme Reward, and it never happened.
The second marriage was fear-based, as well. I hadn’t recovered from my first disaster and I was targeted by a non-violent sociopath and bought the illusion completely.
Perceived and true threats
What I have learned about my fear-based thinking is that it can truly be rewired. I don’t have to be afraid of things that are not true threats or actual dangers. What are the present threats that I’m facing today? What identifiable dangers must I avoid today? What I might “feel” is a threat, typically isn’t, and the same is true with perceived danger.
Perceived threats / dangers:
- Being alone means that I do not meet anyone else’s approval
- If I don’t tolerate bad behaviors, people won’t like me
- If I don’t give someone the benefit of the doubt, then I’m a bad person and unworthy of love
- If I don’t give someone a second chance, then I will be abandoned and alone
True threats / dangers
- Drunk drivers colliding with my vehicle
- Lightning strikes nearby
- Floods and acts of Nature
- Random acts of human violence
The point is that what my mind created is what disabled me to the point where I refused to construct and maintain strong boundaries. I was afraid to call a spade what it was because, if someone didn’t like the truth, then they wouldn’t like me. If they didn’t like me, then I wasn’t worthy or deserving of approval — toss the monkeys some more bananas and the cycle would continue. The point is that, today, it’s not so much that I no longer “care” about acceptance, approval, love, or worthiness, but that I can provide those things to myself under my own power.
If someone violates my boundaries and says or does something that is unacceptable, am I really going to continue tolerating being treated poorly out of fear that this person isn’t going to like me? Why would I even seek the approval of someone who doesn’t really care about how their actions or words make me feel? That doesn’t mean that I’m impervious to the attempts of others to force their agendas upon me — that will be a constant for the rest of my life because I finally accept that there are simply bad people out there who have an agenda with everyone, not just me. But, in order for me to avoid being exploited by another sociopath, I am mandated to draw that line in the sand and, regardless of who it might be, if that line is crossed, then the association is finished.
Rewired fear-based thinking
Fear-based thinking was rewired when I finally accepted facts as they are. “Acceptance” does not mean that I am obligated to “like” the facts, by any stretch of the imagination. I often do not like the facts, one iota. It is dreadful and grievous that some things are true. It’s dreadful that there are individuals who do not have a conscience and are incapable of feeling remorse for harming others. I don’t “like” this fact, but it’s undeniable. It is appalling that people produce offspring and have no intention of raising and caring for those offspring with love, nurturing, and boundaries. I don’t “like” this fact, either, but it is indisputable.
Acceptance, approval and love – for me
Accepting facts allows for me to approach any given situation with an objective eye. Rather than running on fear, I’m beginning to experience the liberation and supremely positive benefits that boundaries provide. I finally realize and “feel” that I am not responsible for the happiness, well-being, or success of any other human being on this planet. And, I won’t accept that responsibility ever again because I like myself, I accept myself, I approve of myself, and I love myself.
Of course, the previous statement does not mean that I travel with this backpack of healthy “Self-isms” on a continuous basis. To be sure, I have set that bagful of power down, from time to time, and experienced the reanimation of fear-based thinking. But, when I recognize that I’ve done this, I look back on my Healing Path to see where I left it and go right back and pick it back up.
Grateful for everything – including my sociopathic experiences
There are too many authentic fears and threats in life without my core issues creating ones that are not based upon facts. My perceptions are constantly evolving and becoming based more and more upon facts. So, the monkeys in the Self-Destruction Exhibit are starving, and they want to scream for sustenance, but they’re slowly beginning to lose their energy. For this, I am grateful and, as odd as it may sound, that gratitude extends to my spath experiences.
Had I not experienced the painful betrayals and subsequent carnages, I would not be at this point today. I would still be making fear-based choices and decisions, and I would still be the whipping post of every disordered individual that I came into contact with. Today, my sense of gratitude is colossal and I am understanding that all things happen for “A Reason.”