We all have them: Self-doubts. Racing thoughts. Worries about ourselves, the future, and the world around us. This becomes especially & cripplingly true after relationship abuse.
If I could rewrite the Psychopath Free book, I'd include this chapter.
When we’re hurting, our immediate wish is that we’d stop hurting. I believe this is the body’s natural reaction to feeling bad. We are self-healing machines, and so it only makes sense after an abusive relationship that we’d want to start feeling good again as soon as possible. But, as we all learn, it’s not that easy. It takes years of recovery to dig deep, work hard, and reclaim our self-worth—to find our place and our confidence in this world.
And even then, the journey isn’t over.
Years later—with self-respect, healthy relationships, & wonderful friendships—I began to notice this constant aching in my chest. I never seemed able to describe it quite right, but it was there with me every second of the day. Many survivors experience something similar, manifesting in a variety of different ways. Anxiety & PTSD are certainly not constant across experiences. In the book, I described it this way:
The demon that wraps its claws around your heart, always there to remind you of everything you want to forget.
I spent weeks of my life researching this demon, trying to figure out why it wouldn’t leave me alone. I wanted so badly for it to go away, allowing me to enjoy life as I once remembered. I would try to convince myself that it had disappeared, even when I could feel it sneaking back up on me. I considered medications, although I avoided this route for personal reasons.
And then one day, I came across a therapist who specialized in “Imagination Therapy”. That sounded good to me. I love anything to do with creativity and the mind. So I met up with her and spent the next several weeks diving into my imagination.
I would like to share what I learned (along with some of my own inventions along the way), in case it helps anyone who suffers from this lingering darkness. You are not alone, and you do not need to hurt like this anymore.
The first thing I needed to revisit was this idea of a “demon”, which automatically implied that the dark feeling was my enemy. How could it not be, after all the time I had spent hating it and wishing it away? Fear is a powerful thing, and it keeps us strongly rooted in our distress.
But it’s time to break that pattern of thinking. It’s time for you to meet this darkness face-to-face.
Make sure you are somewhere relaxing. Bubble baths are my favorite. And then, take several deep breaths: 5 seconds in through your nose. Hold for 5 seconds. 5 seconds out through your mouth. Become aware of the feeling as it starts to take over, even in this relaxing environment.
But today, instead of wishing it away, welcome it. It’s scary, but I promise you will not be harmed. Welcome all of the racing thoughts, worries, doubts, and physical symptoms that come along with it. And once you are completely consumed…
Below is my own personal recollection of the conversation that followed. It changed my life. And I hope it might serve as a guide for your own discoveries.
Unexpected Answers to Unexpected Questions: Why Are You Here?
I expected a nasty response, a distant voice from my ex telling me I deserved to suffer. That I was crazy, weak, and pathetic.
So you can imagine my surprise when he (yes, it was unmistakably a young boy) gently responded: “I’m here to make sure you’re okay.”
That changed everything. Suddenly, he didn’t seem so scary. But I still had to wonder why he was hurting me, keeping my chest so tight & uncomfortable. Answering before I could even ask, he said: “I’ve only been hugging your heart to keep you safe. I never meant for it to harm you.”
And suddenly, I didn’t want this boy to leave me. Granted, I wished he’d stop hugging me so hard, but I wasn’t afraid of him anymore. I trusted him very quickly. There was something loving, kind, and innocent about him. I wanted to learn more.
Forgotten Memories: When Did You Arrive?
I figured he must have joined me after the relationship. That’s when I started feeling his hugs, after all. So I asked how he found me, and why he decided to stay. Again, his answer surprised me.
He said that he’d been with me since the day I was born. He was my energy, my creativity—my living spirit. He would stay with me forever, and he was so excited that we were finally talking.
The hugs, however, were much more recent. I had never needed them in the past. I was a naturally cheerful person, and he could simply live & breathe through me. But when I was broken, he couldn’t do that anymore. When I encountered evil, he was repeatedly silenced and shoved aside. Everything we once valued together was violated. And so he stayed with me, waiting quietly. Patiently. He would do whatever it took to make sure that I’d never be treated this way again.
In the meantime, he did everything in his power to sabotage my relationship. He refused to watch me submit to another human being. He lashed out when I wanted him to keep quiet. He was the one who couldn’t stop pointing out the lies, hypocrisy, and manipulation—even though I tried so hard to ignore those things, to maintain the idealization. He didn’t care if I was called crazy or hypersensitive. He wanted me far and forever away from this black hole that consumed the both of us.
And finally, during the darkest moment of my life—when I considered leaving this world—he gave me a reason to stay here. He gave me hope.
A New Partnership: What Does the Future Hold?
I thanked him for protecting me. For keeping me safe. For seeing evil where I could not. But despite all of his unsung efforts, I needed him to understand that his hugs hurt me. I have learned and grown from my experience, and I promised him that I would never allow myself to be violated like that again. I asked if he could please just loosen his grip a bit.
He thoughtfully considered my proposal, and said he’d try his hardest. He told me that it would take time for him to let me go—that it wouldn’t just happen overnight. He said that we would need to work together, to find a peaceful solution that worked for both of us. Of course I enthusiastically agreed. It was more progress than I’d made in two years.
I was able to say goodnight to him with a new kind of compassion. I went to sleep that night, knowing that a loyal guardian was watching over my dreams, battling darkness with his eternal light & unconditional love.
Sunset Dreams: Why Are We Here?
Since that night, I’ve had conversations with him every single day. He is my friend, and he has been with me since the very beginning—expecting nothing in return, just patiently waiting for that conversation. Whenever I begin to feel overwhelmed, I find that I can calm down so quickly by simply saying: “Hey, what’s going on?”
He always has an answer, and it’s never a scary one.
I find that I connect best with him when I’m watching the sunset by the river. In these moments, I think I’m beginning to discover why we’re all here on this strange planet to begin with. If we have these spirits within us, fighting for everything that is good, then surely they must be able to see & communicate with one another as well. Yours, mine, anyone’s! I imagine they must enjoy playing together at night, laughing, crying, fighting, and protecting.
I believe this is how we have found each other here at PsychopathFree (and after meeting HealingJourney this week, I'm 100% sure of it), and I am honored to think that our spirits might be running around at night, giggling about all of the silly things we’ve said in the Coffee Thread. I am very touched by this gift, and I would not trade it for anything. This inner being—the very core of our true selves—has been with all of us since the day we entered this world. It cannot be destroyed, no matter how much someone might try. Each and every one of us was violated in an incomprehensibly unfair way. We did not ask to have our innocence stolen from us. But in their attempts to destroy our identity, our predators only gave us the opportunity to connect even closer with our spirits.
And that is why psychopaths will always fail.
They do not understand love. They cannot feel anxiety and worry—these spirits within us, always making sure we are okay. They can mimic nearly anything else, but they cannot comprehend or experience the most important magic this world has to offer. Love is where the pitiful psychopathic games come to an end, and our journey only just begins.
Our spirits are here to help us, not to hurt us. They will always be ready for a conversation, excited to meet these people that they dedicate their lives to protecting. And until that conversation, they will be there for us: steadfast, strong, and ready for the next great adventure.
I've written a new book about long-term healing. Whole Again is now published! If you would like to be notified about future books, you can enter your email address below. This is not a mailing list. Just a one-time notification:
PTSD, Anxiety, and Sunset Conversations
I spent weeks of my life researching this demon, trying to figure out why it wouldn’t leave me alone. I wanted so badly for it to go away, allowing me to enjoy
Article Author: Peace