I have been a reader and poster on CureZone for many years, and there have been times when this site was pivotal in my healing processes, especially where my health was concerned.
I started this board formyself and other people who were in doubt of their relationships with narcissists and sociopaths, and for those who struggling on their healing paths. I never thought when I started this board that I would have married another sociopath of a different sort.
It has been almost a year-to-the-date that I discovered that the person that I had been married to for over a decade and had trusted, implicitly, had perpetrated a long-fraud and that I had trusted someone who had developed a separate identity from the illusion that I had "loved." My discovery took less than 30 seconds to uncover and comprehend. One minute, I was "happily" married, and thirty seconds later, the illusion was irreversibly shattered and I realized, to my horror, that I had been married to a violent sexua| deviant. The financial frauds remained unknown until much later.
What the exspath did isn't important. What I lost is equally unimportant. Suffice it to say that, when one is associated with a sociopath for any stretch of time, the losses are incalculable - from financial to sexua| to spiritual to emotional to medical. A relationship with a sociopath results in whole-self carnage.
What I've learned from my experiences is that I am ultimately responsible for constructing and maintaining strict, high, and thick boundaries where my tolerance is concerned. I learned, through strong counseling, that my inability to construct boundaries stemmed from my childhood experiences - my "inner child" had been severely damaged and mandated with the responsibility for the happiness and well-being of everyone else before myself. I was held accountable, as a gradeschooler, for another adult's actions, and carried this mandate of "peacekeeper" and helpless caregiver into my adult psyche.
In my recovery, I've learned that I have a very low tolerance for wilfull stupidity. I have a zero tolerance for manipulation. I give no part of my Self (Self = soul) away to anyone, anymore. I have no need or desire to seek the approval of other people, and that was the core of my own guilt and shame. I've also learned that I can speak up, speak out, and speak truthfully without fear, finally.
I've learned that emotional healing is a painful process if it to be successful, at all. There is nothing warm and fuzzy about healing emotional damages and success requires courage, strength, and resolve. Fear is a "normal" reaction to risk, but without the risk of learning truth, healing will never take place. Emotional healing is comparable to healing from a compound fracture. When a bone has been fractured and pierces through flesh, surgery is performed, the bone is set, stitches (or, staples) close the wound, the limb is imobilized, and the healing begins. There is risk of infection, and it often sets in - this is part of the collateral damage of the initial fracture. As the infection is treated and the bone begins to knit new tissue, the recovery is painful. The site of the surgery itches and burns, and is impossible to reach through the cast that surrounds it. After a time, the cast is removed and the injured limb must be used or bear weight to continue healing. Muscles have atrophied and the limb tires easily - the patient experiences exquisite pain and often wants to just quit using that limb, altogether. But, the patient endeavors and rebuilds the muscle tissue through use of that limb and the bone tissue rebuilds itself all around the fracture site causing it to be further supported by a biological splint. After a time, the patient regains use of that limb as much as they can through their own power. The site of the fracture will never be the same - it can't be, regardless of surgical skill or physical therapy. The bone was damaged and the patient will forever feel a change in the weather and the discomfort will be a reminder of that injury for the rest of that person's life. So goes it with the damages caused by emotional trauma.
What is amazing about the human spirit is its ability to recover if we get down and dirty, and face our own demons with conviction and resolve. This lesson was the hardest to learn, but my resilience and inner strength are character traits that have shown themselves at the most unlikely of times. We all have those qualities and, for human beings that were bestowed a sense of conscience and empathy, these qualities are a couple of the many strengths that will carry us through the most unthinkable of circumstances.
These lessons came at a very high price, and they were hard-won truths about myself that I needed to learn. I'm not very far along my healing path, and I stumble and falter, often. But, my steps continue taking me forward. There will come a point in my life that I will finally feel joy, peace, and contentment, again, but these feelings will be slow in reforming and I can be as patient as I need to be. Emotional healing is a long, slow, and uncomfortable process. There is no quick cure or comprehensive technique that will facilitate recovery - there simply isn't. Although there are countless techniques to help manage triggers, backslides, and ingrained issues, no single technique is going to be The Cure. There is no "getting over it" after a socipathic entanglement, and people who have not experienced the complete devastation of these exposures simply don't "get it." Trying to describe and explain what happened becomes an exercise in futility - what they did and how we were ensnared seems too outrageous to believe, and most people don't want to believe that other human beings - people that they know and love - are capable of the atrocities that they perpetrate upon their source targets. It's too much to process for them.
For those who are in doubt of their relaitonships, read, absorb, and process truths about narcissistic and sociopathic behaviors. Keep in mind that toxic people can be mothers, fathers, siblings, coworkers, clergy and religious leaders, politicians, council members, teachers, and romantic partners. These people, for whatever reason, feel no remorse or empathy, and display no conscience in their interactions with other human beings. They use, abuse, and discard their source targets for a variety of purposes: sex, money, status, and a sense of power. There is no "cure" for these people. There is no surgery, medication, therapy, religious epiphany, or philosophy that is going to alter these people. They are what they are and will remain what they are until the day that they die - only their tacticts change and evolve as each new source target is acquired. There is no reason, including children in common, to maintain any type of "relationship" with another human being who's only goal in their lifetime is to target and dismantle other human beings for their purposes. None.
I am grateful (ruefully so) that I learned these lesson, even at this late date. I will never be the same person that I once was. I will never even entertain the possibility of another partnership, but this isn't something for me to be "sad" about. I need to learn how to make my way under my own power and efforts, and to depend upon myself to meet my needs. Is it scary? Sure, it can be. Am I lonely? Nope - I'm alone, but I'm not lonely. Am I fearful? Sometimes my concern is allowed to spiral into irrational fear, but I'm working on learning when to shut concern down before it gets out of hand. I am also very cautious about all interactions with other people in every situation - trust issues? Sure, and that's okay, right now. I need to learn to trust myself and my instincts, first. And, nobody deserves my trust without having first earned it. This includes friends, coworkers, business associates, or anyone else. I'm no longer that "open book" whose vulnerabilities and past expleriences will be exploited by a creature that inhabits human form. I am heading towards finally becoming the person that I should have been before my "inner child" suffered the damages that she did. And, for this, I am grateful for my experiences. I have been gifted the opportunity to heal myself and emerge.
There is healing. There is recovery. There is growth. And, there is every reason to live, survive, and emerge.
"I'm not very far along my healing path, and I stumble and falter, often...."
An awareness or realization that one has pain that they've not worked on is 90% of the healing process. Give yourself loads of credit for what you've learned and the direction that it has taken you in your healing journey. I can't remember her name but there was a University of Washington psychology professor in the Seattle area who had a call in radio program who would many times repeat her mantra "Life is three steps forward, and then two steps back" and it's very true.
As a child I didn't know that I had pain. As an adult I've practiced an inward focused meditation for more than thirty years and it is a slippery slope but it is a healing, and yes there are many discouraging days though the progress and inner satisfaction is something that I cannot live without.
"There is nothing warm and fuzzy about healing emotional damages and success requires courage, strength, and resolve. Fear is a "normal" reaction to risk, but without the risk of learning truth, healing will never take place. Emotional healing is comparable to healing from a compound fracture."
There can be a lot of warm and fuzzy but for me the most difficult part is taking responsibility for my creations and it takes time and space to recognize that I have created all the pain in my reality. Yes there are ogre's out there, but I have created everyone of them - including my childhood family.
Great post. We are all here to learn to love ourselves and everything that has ever happened in our lifetimes. One form of the Golden Rule is to "Love thy neighbor as thyself" but most people forget that what it says is that if we don't love ourselves first - we ain't going to love our neighbors.