I survived an encounter with a psychopath, and I will never be the same.
Those of us who can relate to that statement know that being targeted by a psychopath causes us to see the world differently. When we learn about psychopathy, we suddenly see, very clearly, that the world is much darker than we realized. We often lose our faith in humanity and build an impenetrable emotional wall around ourselves. We wonder if we will ever find any good amidst the evil that now surrounds us.
The good is there, but finding it—seeing it again—is a process.
I remember that the process of discovering and then understanding sociopathy/psychopathy consisted of a series of light bulb moments. At first, they came in rapid succession, and then, after a while, they slowed down to more of a trickle. The little pieces of my experience with the psychopath all fit into what I was learning about the disorder, just like a jigsaw puzzle. On top of the intense pain I was feeling, I was also simultaneously confused, angry, frightened, and relieved!
When we realize that the impressions we had of the psychopaths were not real, and were in fact the opposite of the truth, our eyes are opened up to a new, scary world. Unfortunately, we struggle with enormous cognitive dissonance, especially in the very beginning of our healing journeys. Our brains have an extremely difficult time letting go of the previous images we had of the psychopaths and incorporating the new, accurate, and disturbing information. So the light bulb moments often keep happening, over a period of weeks and months. We often feel compelled to learn as much as we can about psychopathy, and we also feel the need to share our thoughts about this with others. Unfortunately, we tend to be painfully disappointed by these interactions. Others tend to invalidate our feelings and perspective and tell us to “get over it.” This happens because only those who have encountered evil have the ability to recognize it and truly understand what we are going through.
As my brain began to process the information I was gathering about psychopathy, I started to see evil everywhere. I saw it in one of my students, I saw it in my deceased grandmother, I saw it in my boss, and I saw it within many characters in stories and movies. It seemed as if I was suddenly surrounded by evil! And, in many ways, I was. I also felt more and more isolated from other people, except for the other survivors with whom I had connected.
Our new understanding of the world enables us to see what we could not see before. The evil that we now see everywhere—or at least think that we see everywhere—that evil has always existed. However, it was hidden from us because of our innocence. It is natural for us, now that we are aware of this new reality, to look at every new person with strong suspicion and brace ourselves for an onslaught of hurtful behavior such as the kind we survived. The pain from the trauma we experienced, and the knowledge that we might be traumatized again, creates great fear inside of us. We want to block the pain and fear out, and we are understandably wary of building new connections with others. However, this isolation tends to increase our pain, and we may find ourselves longing to resurrect the innocence we once had. The world seemed so safe then, and now it seems so very dark.
A Heavy Soul
In the midst of seeing so much evil and darkness all around me, I discovered that I was also finding life-altering light within that darkness. I was becoming good friends with others who understand, I was making amazing strides in therapy, and I was developing a deeper appreciation for myself, which brought out my own inner light. Yet, I still felt disconnected from humanity. I felt discouraged by others’ inability to see what I see. It seemed as if the darkness overshadowed the light, and my soul felt heavy.
We survivors may find that even when we make amazing progress in our recoveries, and even when we realize that we are not alone in our new understanding of the world, we still feel detached from the majority of people. We may find it very difficult to trust new people, and we may discover that we still automatically see others as dangerous…and evil. We may wonder, with a deep sadness in our hearts, is there really enough good in the world? Is there truly more light than dark in others’ souls?
More Light Than Dark
One day, as I struggled with the above questions and battled feelings of despair, I had a quiet epiphany. I realized that I could choose to believe, based on my research of psychopathy and my own life experiences, that there are many more normal and good people than there are evil people in the world. And I could choose to believe that love will triumph, in the end, because all normal human beings have a deep need to build real connections with others. Soon after I made the choice to believe that I will find more light than dark in the world, an amazing thing happened. I started seeing—really seeing—more kindness and compassion in the actions of the people around me.
Our encounters with evil have changed us forever. It is okay and necessary for us to spend time grieving our lost innocence, yet we cannot retrieve it. It is also natural for us to find that our souls feel temporarily darkened by the evil that we now see. However, the truth is that more light than dark exists around us, and once we’ve worked through the pain of what’s happened to us, had our feelings validated, built ourselves back up, and discovered that we are not alone in our new understanding of the world, we can start to see the good again. Just like the dark, the good has always been there, and it will be waiting for us to embrace it when we are ready.
More Light Than Dark
When we realize that the impressions we had of the psychopaths were not real, and were in fact the opposite of the truth, our eyes are opened up to a new life.
Article Author: HealingJourney