Kathleen Hawk

After the sociopath: How do we heal? Part 16 – The end of recovery

Because there is so much discussion lately about pity, empathy and compassion in the wake of a relationship with a sociopath, I am writing this article to discuss compassion as it fits into the recovery process.

Before I begin, I would like to humbly remind my readers that recovery, by its nature, is a progression through different stages of emotional learning. If the trauma is major, these emotional states will be intense. And they will color our “sight” or view of the world and ourselves. I’m pointing this out as a warning that, unless you are in late-stage recovery, the material in this article may be irritating and you may find me a holier-than-thou pain in the butt.

Posted in: Kathleen Hawk

After the sociopath: How do we heal? Part 15 – Comfort and Joy

Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza, the turn of the year, the winter solstice and all the holidays of the “dark” time of the year are celebrations of the miracle of renewal. The harvest and colorful leaf fall of autumn is over, and the seasons are turning again to the beginning of the annual cycle of life. Our gifts, all our gatherings, the lights and candles are all expressions of joy in our shared warmth, and our faith and hope in our survival through the cold months to the blooming of spring again.

This morning, reading in bed (Richard Powers’ Prisoners Dilemma), I found this line: “Inside each of us is a script of the greater epic writ little, an atlas of politics so abundant it threats to fill us full to breaking.”

Posted in: Kathleen Hawk

After the sociopath: How do we heal? Part 14 – Discovering What We Are Capable Of

The Buddhists say that we fall in love with our teachers. I know that in my relationship with the man I now belief is a sociopath, I realized early that I was in a sort of classroom.

He clearly saw the world differently than I did, and operated on principles that were so foreign to me that I couldn’t begin to connect the dots. I was truly in love with this man, had a clear vision of the benefits a good relationship would bring to both of us, and wanted to make it work. So I tried to understand. I kept trying through all the emotional pain that started very early in the relationship. I worked at getting him to appreciate and trust me more than he did. I also experimented with mimicking his behaviors, even though they were outside my comfort zone.

After the sociopath: How do we heal? Part 13 – Happy Emotional Independence Day

Happy Independence Day weekend. It is a lucky coincidence that this is our topic, because emotional freedom is truly about personal revolution. It is an end to collaboration with and submission to abuse. It is an end to the emotional slavery of feeling responsible for other people’s feelings and other things that are beyond our control.

Emotional freedom is something that might be difficult to imagine when we are in the first stages of healing – especially if it’s the first time we’ve ever processed an abuse-related trauma all the way through to the end. At least once, we need to go through all the stages to take a good look at patterns of denial or bargaining that made us vulnerable to abusers or tolerant of their behavior. We need to develop internal strengths – like easy access to anger and confidence in our rights to defend ourselves – that might have been suppressed before. We need to learn for ourselves that we can live through loss and letting go, and actually learn something from it.

After the sociopath: How do we heal? Part 12 – Reclaiming Self-Love

Love is huge topic that spans every other issue that we have discussed so far, and ones we have not touched yet. But for our purposes – to talk about our next steps in healing from traumatic relationships – we have to narrow it down.

This article will discuss the most basic and important element of love — how we love ourselves. We will look at how we our relationships with ourselves are changing. And how that is affecting what other people mean to us

What we think of ourselves

Years ago, when I was involved with a New Age bookstore, I ran into lots of programs that taught positive affirmations. That is, repeating phrases about how lovable we are, how successful we are, how loved we are by the universe, as a form of self-hypnosis. The idea was that we would eventually believe it. And believing it would change our lives.

After the sociopath: How do we heal? Part 11 – Trust

I’m not upset that you lied to me, I’m upset that from now on I can’t believe you.
— Frederic Nietzsche

In recovering from a sociopathic relationship, one of our greatest challenges is to rediscover the meaning of trust. Trust is a kind of glue in our lives. If we are going to be vibrant human beings, living with healthy curiosity and developing ourselves through calculated risks and learning from our experiences, we have to be able to depend on some background truths. When our lives are rocked by unexpected disaster, the impact on our ability to trust our perceptions or our world around us can be massive.

This issue comes up over and over on LoveFraud. We hear it most clearly from the people in early recovery. But it’s an issue at every stage of healing, including the process of forgiving discussed in the last article.

After the sociopath: How do we heal? Part 10 – Forgiving

This article talks about work we do when we are ready to work on clearing the influence of betrayals from our minds and emotional systems. It is about recovering our feelings of safety in the world and moving forward to create better and happier lives. Those of us who are still battling our betrayers, still clarifying our feelings of outrage or still developing our self-defensive skills may feel outraged by the very idea of forgiving. And so they should. Forgiving is something we do “at our leisure,” later when we have the time to think about restoring our emotional systems to a pre-warzone state. Ultimately we want to be positive, creative, optimistic people — without ever forgetting the lessons we learned in our histories. This article is about what we do, when we’re ready to put it all behind us. — Kathy

After the sociopath: How do we heal? Part 9 – Returning to Wounded Innocence

In the series on recovering from traumatic relationships, this is the third article on grieving and letting go. It is an extension of the last one, which discussed exploring the past to understand our patterns of belief and behavior. This is about how we do it and what we find. Or rather about how I did it, and what I found

Unpacking frozen memories

This week I reached out to someone whose name is part of my history. She was once the lover of a man I regarded as the great love of my life. He was an alcoholic poet who died when I was 23. She is a poet too. I found her web site, read a poem about the first time they made love, and wrote her an e-mail to introduce myself.

After the sociopath: How do we heal? Part 8 – Waking up

This is the eighth article in this series about the recovery path, and it is about the second half of the path. This is after we have fully accessed our anger, and begun to grieve our losses and let go. This article may not necessarily be helpful to someone who is still reeling from betrayal and loss, or even someone who is still exploring righteous anger. However, it is part of this series because a growing number of people on LoveFraud are considering the influence of their histories on their relationships, as part of healing themselves and their lives. Please, take what is valuable to you, but if this one doesn’t make sense or, God forbid, makes you feel like you’re being blamed, it just means that you’re at another healing stage. Which is good. Every stage is necessary and good. Be where you are, love yourself and heal. That’s all that matters. — Kathy

After the sociopath: How do we heal? Part 7-Letting Go

Letting go is the point at which our recovery turns around from darkness to light. In previous articles, we have discussed all the stages of magical thinking, how we progressively become more and more willing to accept reality.

In a trauma or extended trauma, like a relationship with a sociopath, there is a lot of difficult reality to accept. Here is a recap of our healing stages or strategies:

• Denial – the most “unreal” stage, where we say it is not important, where we are at war with our own feelings
• Bargaining – we admit it hurts, but we still think it is in our power to change it
• Anger – we blame the external cause, we recover our feelings of personal power over our lives, but we continue to maintain the idea that there is something we or anyone else can do about it.