One of the most common questions asked during recovery is: "Was he/she really a sociopath?" Survivors ask this question over and over again, because for most of us, the alternative is the sociopath's reality: "You are crazy, jealous, sensitive, paranoid, unattractive, unwanted." And so we oscillate back and forth between these two realities: bad other, or bad self.
While I believe that education about narcissism and sociopathy are essential to healing and sanity restoration (especially in the early stages as we break the chemical bond and learn to go No Contact), I think there is something very powerful about eventually releasing this duality.
In a way, my own sense of self was hinged on someone else being bad. This slowly led to some strange personality changes where I found myself frequently analyzing and judging others (and myself), constantly frustrated that people weren't behaving the way they were "supposed to" (including myself). I also adopted some hugely perfectionist qualities, all in a constant effort to prove that I was good.
Underneath it all was still that same nagging voice: "What if it was all you? What if it's your fault?" - that voice only fueled more of the same behaviors. Trying harder and harder to accomplish, be nice, and prove I was good.
Last year, I bought some books on forgiveness and began practicing it at night, even though it felt very unnatural at first. While it began to soften my heart a bit, I found a lot of really unpleasant things started to surface in my mind. It was like I had been teleported back in time.Without my security blanket of "bad other", I was becoming "bad self" again.
I desperately wanted to patch this all back up, returning to my distractions and comfort. But I decided to stick with those feelings this time around, as awful as they felt. I decided to just ask the question "What would I actually have to feel if there was no 'bad other'?" I wasn't asking myself to magically rewrite history and pretend he was an honest caring guy. I was simply asking my body what it would have to feel without the story of blame protecting it, no matter how true it was.
The answer, as I discovered over the course of several months, was an overwhelming amount shame, worthlessness, guilt, inadequacy, self-blame, and jealousy. It was completely unbearable. Underneath it all, really just a massive sense of "I am bad". The thing is, this sense of "bad self" lived in my body, regardless of whether or not he was "bad other". So if blaming the bad other wasn't going to fix this, what would?
What I've found is that when we fully open to our pain and fears, there seems to be an equally proportionate amount of love that begins to develop to hold it all. It feels completely overwhelming at first, and it might take a long time, but I promise this love appears when you realize you are suffering. Maybe this love comes from yourself, or maybe from something larger than yourself. This love is not ego-driven and has absolutely nothing to do with being good or bad, right or wrong. It simply sees you as a human being suffering, in need of love and kindness. There is no longer anything to prove.
In this process, we are not asking ourselves to pretend it "wasn't that bad". We're asking ourselves to acknowledge and embrace the full pain of rejection, abandonment, and abuse. We're asking ourselves to replace old messages of "not enough" with new messages of love and kindness.
So many of us did uncharacteristic things during and after the relationship. Betrayals of our own values and morals. Again, anyone is bound to do crazy things when they encounter a sociopath - it's a given But the word "sociopath" still didn't erase my shame. Sure, it helped my ego rationalize my behavior, but it didn't let go of that heartfelt sense of "I am bad". Only this newfound love has started to do that. All of us deserve to find, in our hearts and from our spirits, a sense of unconditional love & self-forgiveness.
The question "What if they're not really a sociopath?" loses all of its significance when we come to love ourselves regardless of the answer. I used to fear that without my security blanket, "maybe they were actually perfect" or "I'll end up going back to them". But in the end, meeting all of that with love simply erases those fears. The healthy, pure love that we find from this journey naturally guides us toward the same authenticity in others.
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:
What If They're Not A Sociopath? What If It's All My Fault?
All of us deserve to find, in our hearts and from our spirits, a sense of unconditional love & self-forgiveness.
Article Author: Peace