I've been thinking about how we all have our own ways of avoiding self-sabotage in maintaining No Contact (NC) with the psychopaths in our lives. Sometimes it involves blocking that person on Facebook, blocking texts and phone calls, or avoiding places where he or she is likely to be. I think it would be helpful to share strategies of how we set ourselves up to be able to resist temptation when the time comes that we feel the urge to crack under the pressure of hoovering, or a moment of weakness or loneliness. Coming here for a shot of support certainly qualifies!
I'm looking for suggestions of ways to be pro-active rather than reactive in times when we may be most vulnerable. Any tips, suggestions or strategies?
For those of us struggling to stay away from Ps because we remember the "good" things about them, or the "good" times, I suggest making a list of all of the cruel things they did. I organized my list by categories that I came up with based on a few books I read about psychopathy...Red Flags of Love Fraud, The Sociopath Next Door, and Without Conscience. For example, I had headings such as pathological lying, charisma and charm/egocentricity, blaming others/pity play, psychopathic tells, mirroring, aggression/reckless behavior, and also an "other" category for things I remembered that didn't quite fit into any of the previous ones. That worked for me, because I like organization. I revised the list many times because I kept remembering things, and as I read it over and over, it helped me see the P as he really is...a lying, cheating monster. It not only prevented me from contacting him, it also helped me work through a lot of cognitive dissonance.
The other strategy that worked for me was to focus on the most important fact I learned early on about Ps: they have no conscience, and they are capable of anything! Although I have never been hoovered back in (so far), I did want very much to contact the OW after our final conversation about new facts I had subsequently uncovered about the P. And I really wanted to tell him off! But when I figured out that his behavior does not have any limits, I was scared, and that fear stopped me from going through with it. Now, I am very close to the point of indifference, so I can let go of the fear (at least about him, although not about psychopaths in general).
I also realized that I was winning by ignoring him! Ps want any kind of attention, even negative attention. In fact, they thrive on drama. By staying silent, I took back my power!
I found after the initial devastation and sheer exhaustion of the traumatic exit, I found reading a life saver.
I read Why Does He Do That? Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men, How to Spot a Dangerous Man Before You Get Involved (lol, yeah, I know, would have been useful before), Men Who Hate Women and the Women Who Love Them, Power and Control: Why Charming Men Can Make Dangerous Lovers, In Sheep's Clothing: Understanding and Dealing With Manipulative People, Narcissism Behind the Mask, The Sociopath Next Door, and Who's Pulling Your Strings: How to Break the Cycle of Manipulation and Regain Control of Your Life (just started this book today). These I used to help make sense of what happened and educate myself.
Then came Psychopath Free (my saviour, this really helped me start to heal; seriously, it's a godsend)...I was then able to work on my boundaries once healing began with: The Nice Girl Syndrome, Too Nice For Your Own Good, and Toxic Parents: Overcoming Their Hurtful Legacy and Reclaiming Your Life.
The wild card books to help me wise up...Why Men Love Bitches, From Doormat to Dreamgirl. And I just bought Boundaries and Relationships: Knowing, Protecting and Enjoying the Self (not started this one yet).
I KNOW, INFORMATION OVERLOAD, but it kept my mind occupied and my eyes too tired to go looking, texting, or any other damaging way regarding contact with the P to get answers, truth, or closure. I know he'd just damage me further, though I still felt compelled in first 12 weeks to contact.
I also made notes in the books and wrote notes in a journal under headings of education, inspiration and quotations to support in weak times and finally mind and heart exorcism...I wrote all the texts and conversations I never got to have with the P down so I could reflect, remember and feel. I was prepared if he ever contacted again. And you know, at almost 4 months now, I don't care if he does or not, and I will decide how I'm treated and feel nothing him or any of his suck up, so-called hanger-ons!
1) So many of us have suffered in a physical way from our experience with a psychopath. I know I have. We struggle with anxiety, depression, sleep deprivation and some of us have turned to alcohol to help us numb the pain. Some of us have been victims of violent assault and other forms of physical abuse.
As if it weren't bad enough that they tried to destroy us emotionally, they've also done a good job of destroying our physical health.
I think anyone who is doing their best to heal from an experience with a psychopath needs to have a complete physical exam that also includes a serious consultation with the doctor, and possibly a therapist, about ongoing anxiety and depression related issues that could undermine our ability to resist further contact with the psychopath.
If we're in a physically and emotionally weakened condition, I think we're far more likely to be vulnerable to the psychopath we've just escaped or even a new one in the future. It's amazing how restoring our physical health contributes to restoring our mental health and vice versa.
Making restoring our health a priority (as opposed to obsessing over a psychopath) and paying better attention to what we eat than we have been and getting some fresh air and exercise, on a daily basis, helps to break the cycle of illness and depression the psychopath has left us in. Looking forward to a regular date to walk and talk with a friend every day, or maybe a solitary walk or run to release tension and clear the fog of cognitive dissonance would be helpful in increasing our resistance to the psychopaths.
We know we have an addictive chemical bond with them and we can help break that bond by releasing chemicals in our brains through exercise, improved diet, and possibly medication if it's needed but for only as long as it's needed.
And a little retail therapy never hurts! Believe it or not, there are studies that show that just buying a new tube of lipstick or getting a haircut raises our feeling of well-being in a measurable way. We can improve and maintain ourselves and it might help us to maintain NC as a side benefit.
SO, first things first, and getting ourselves back to a better state of health and well being (fighting weight and strength), through a combination of medical attention and therapeutic support greatly ups our chances of maintaining NC, in my opinion.
2) This is just common sense. To avoid contact with the psychopath and maintain it, learn to out-think them. Knowing that psychopaths are vindictive and retaliatory and malicious just for the entertainment value it brings to them, it stands to reason that we need to treat them like the predators they are and protect ourselves on every front. Again, resisting paranoia but exercising greater caution, we should remember that they know us far too well. Maybe they've been our husbands or lovers and lived in our homes. Well inside our boundaries and having gained our trust... We really do need to change the locks, even if we believe they have no keys.
If we have alarm systems, it's time to change the code. Park in a closed garage or in a secured location or at least keep the doors locked at all times when the car is parked. Change passwords to shopping sites that you may have used, jointly. Certainly change passwords to any financially related or bill paying sites. Protect your personal information and protect your identity, and that includes any mail coming to your unattended mailbox if your P lives in town. They're easily bored and hacking your information for the sheer fun of harassment or for financial gain would be like an afternoon at an amusement park to a psychopath.
Please check your credit report on a regular basis and remember to remove his or her name from any lists that would give him access or joint use of an account of any kind. Most important, please be sure that if a psychopath is listed as an emergency contact, for you or for a child, that you replace them with someone more trustworthy! Please let a child's school or daycare know that the psychopath is no longer authorized to pick up the child in your absence if you've allowed this in the past, unless you have a shared custody agreement in place with them. If there is an operator who screens incoming calls at work, make sure that person knows you won't take calls from the psychopath. Do everything you can to make your life nothing more than a dark window to the psychopath. All advice from a law enforcement booklet about how to remove a psychopath or sociopath from your life.
From Half Full:
I wrote some simple ideas on a card for cheering myself up called my Pep Talk card, laminated it and kept it in my purse for whenever I might need it. Some ideas were as simple as "smile more" and "practice kindness". I read once that our lives could be transformed if we'd do three things every day:
1) Even in the midst of grief, chaos or loss, take a moment each day to identify something in your life that causes you to be grateful. Take the time to say thank-you.
2) Give someone an unexpected, genuine compliment and allow yourself to be warmed by what your words have accomplished in brightening someone's day.
3) Find one burden that you've carried with you too long that's caused you to feel ashamed, fearful, guilty, embarrassed, inadequate, and forgive yourself for whatever it is that created that feeling. Tell yourself that you acknowledge the feeling, but whatever lesson needed to be learned from that experience has finally been learned and it's time to let that feeling go. Then say goodbye to it and unburden yourself. Tell yourself that by letting go, there is room in your life for something that brings you happiness.
I created a couple of Mottos and Mantras to say to focus myself as well. Peace's 'Imagination' thread really applies here. I became very interested in Positivity and Inner Peace, meaning I started to read the Dalai Lama and I liked some positivity pages on Facebook (soulseeds, positivity, positively positive). Find the messages that speak to your spirit. It may be a religious message and it may not, but search until you find what comforts you deeply:
"Let no man pull you low enough to hate him." MLK
"Peace is the result of retraining your mind to process life as it is rather than as you think it should be." Wayne Dwyer
Retraining our minds to process life as it is rather than as we think or wish it would (or should) be is the process of overcoming cognitive dissonance. Distancing ourselves from the psychopath and the confusion in our minds that they create with projection, gas lighting, and emotional manipulation is key to overcoming CD.
I started watching stand up comedians on TV at night. I tried to find humorous things to laugh about. I have to say that I agree that what we watch, listen to in the way of music and read has to greatly affect us. Garbage in/garbage out. We can all afford to treat ourselves with more respect and surround ourselves with things that make us laugh, bring us joy and greater peace of mind.
I also wrote a list of reasons why this guy I was so enthralled with was bad news. It went something like this:
- He will never be there for me when I need him.He will throw me under the bus not stand in front of the bus to protect me.
- If he's lying to her, he's definitely lying to me.
- He won't stand by me. He will let me down.
- He'll never be the man I need him to be.
- He will always disappoint me.
- He won't reciprocate my feelings.
- He used me.
- He's not up to my standards.
- He has no curiosity about me.
- His bad qualities: selfish, coward, immature, egotistical, thoughtless, inconsiderate
- I've said everything I possibly can to him.
I also wrote a Words to Live By list:
Let go. Don't obsess. Don't lose your dignity. Don't say or do anything you will regret. Don't let him see your anger, pain or sadness. Don't feel the need to always have the last word. Don't impulsively write to him. Write a draft to release the feelings, but don't send it! Wait for him. You can't persuade or manipulate him. That will only push him away. He has to be ready. Work on yourself inside and out. You need to be a whole person for him to love you. If and when he wants you back make him win you, woo you, pursue you. Make him worry that he has lost you. He doesn't deserve you. Don't love a man who won't love you back. Have some self respect. Don't let him use you. What we have is not a relationship. A relationship is not secret, shameful, infrequent contact.
The last time I broke NC, it was huge setback for me. I hit an all time new low and I didn't know I could get any lower. Why was I so hard headed and such a tough case? I've asked myself this question several times. This weekend I think I finally have the answer.
I think I blocked myself from doing this because I knew on some level, that once I did, there would be absolutely no going back. The bridge would be permanently burned down. He would be basically dead to me. Never, ever to return. Not even as a friend. I'd have to fully accept the the person I was involved with as my very first romantic relationship, my first love, first everything, was a psychopath. My experience and his were entirely different. He was my first love, I was his first victim. This sucked, because guess what? I loved the guy!
I would never be able to look back on those years with any kind of fondness and gloss over the very real damage caused to me. I'd never be able to see him as a person I could have in my life or as a part of my life in any way. There would never be any kind of reconciliation, closure, or making amends. This would be good bye forever. I'd never again see him in the same way. Whatever tiny shred of hope I held onto for a decent human being to exist inside of him would be gone forever. The point of no return.
The point of no return can be very frightening. I get that. I really do. But I swear to all on here struggling with this and the pain you are feeling. Once you do, you won't want him or her anymore. You truly won't. Instead of longing for them, you'll feel disgusted by the idea.
I've felt this fear of the point of no return too. If I allow myself to forgive and trust him again, there will be no new beginning. A psychopath can't be something he or she is unable to be, even if there could be some very small part of the psychopath that might wish he could feel what others do.
This seems to be the cognitive dissonant crux of it for most of us that keeps us from being able to burn the bridge. Unanswered questions and unfinished conversations that offer no closure haunt us. How can we really know what our psychopath can and can't feel? Are some psychopaths capable of feeling more than others? What if they do feel some level of remorse? What if my psychopath isn't typical? What if it took losing us for them to realize how much they've missed in living lives without love or the ability to feel emotion as others do before they met us? Didn't they actually say that they'd never met anyone like us before? Claim to love us as they never knew it was possible to love? Is it possible that this is why they've returned? Is the need for answers to these questions why we weaken and initiate contact?
I think Indie917 is right that the point of no return means putting false hopes behind us, forever. Accepting that our fond memories have fraudulent foundations and that we'll have to burn the bridge between us and our psychopath without knowing the answers to the questions above. We'll have to fight the fear that we're leaving something worthwhile behind with the understanding that there are no happy endings with a psychopath. That even if there was a small glimmer of emotion or a shred of remorse in their makeup, that wouldn't be enough to allow them to overcome or override the overwhelming physical damage and psychological disorder of their psychopathology. It is who and what they are and what they will continue to be despite their promises to us or even to themselves that things will be different. There is tragedy there. The only way to end this tragedy for ourselves is to face our fear of having reached the point of no return and end all contact with the psychopath. Their tragedy won't end and they'll bring that tragedy into other's lives after we're gone.
One of us has a chance to find happiness, and I think that we deserve to be that one.
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Maintaining No Contact and Happiness
Cognitive Dissonance. The only way to end this tragedy for ourselves is to face our fear of having reached the point of no return and end all contact.
Article Author: Firstborn