You begin in shock. In disbelief. You may suffer from Post Traumatic Stress (I did). As you are beginning to re-remember, the feelings are going to be overwhelming. Every emotion under the sun. Chaotic feelings. Tremendous ambivalence. Anger, hatred, vengefulness, murder, all the really nasty stuff. Terrible, soul-tearing loneliness. This is normal, this is you being human. Feel all the feelings, cry an ocean. This is grieving. I cried for 3 years, almost every day. I was comforted by this saying from mystical Judaism, "G-d counts the tears of women" (and men, I'm sure).
At the same time,
Learn everything you can about psychopathy and pathological narcissism. We are not talking just immature jerks here, or the abusive, but hardcore pathology.
Return to the past and remember and review in detail. This is not obsessing- this preoccupation is very necessary for healing because you are starting from square one -- what you thought existed, did not. So you must find out what really existed- replace the pathway of emotion laden remembrance with the stark, unyielding reality.
It is through the above 3 ways that we emotionally detach-separate ourselves from the psychopath-character disordered, when we begin to grasp the massive deception and subtle, practised erosion of our beings. Always we must trust our gut as we work this out and thru.
Rehearse and reinforce that this was not a normal person, that it was a lie, that it had nothing to do with you (the hardest)- but it did happen to you- and there is no psychological rhyme nor reason to it because psychopaths-character disordered are in a mysterious class by themselves, not really from this planet as we know it.
Know that they wanted something good from you. Remember it.
You will question yourself and that is normal- people who are normal, have consciences, examine themselves, ask themselves what they could have done differently- this is part of reviewing- What could you have done? nothing- you didn't know they were disordered- now you know- learn all you can about how they work-how they did it- that is your task- to see that they manipulated you and that you were no match for them (nor were some "experts" where psychopaths were concerned).
Discipline yourself to stop looking at your 'faults' as connected to the psychopath-character disordered specifically - any encounter with anyone can trigger a desire to re-evaluate one's life and behaviour- this is normal and progressive- it's a testament to your desire and ability to grow and transcend, to move forward and blossom- the encounter may provide the spark, the seed- your 'faults' or 'weaknesses' did not cause you to be targetted and manipulated by the character disordered.
Try not to psychologise yourself- do it with a therapist but only one who lays the blame where it belongs- on the perpetrator-abuser. Trust no one on the net to psychologise you- they have no right; and it's the blind leading the blind, imo.
Hang out with people who emotionally support you but do not make you doubt yourself- people who try to tell you or imply that you are somehow at fault - do not confide in anyone who pathologises your behaviour or brings you pathologising theories- a psychopath-character disordered is a relationship anomaly/aberration- normal rules don't apply and neither do theories (for that's all they are, and largely uncompassionate, I think) about us, the survivors. As long as you continue to psychologise yourself about this (non)relationship, you remain attached.
Know that you did not have control over the encounter, that you do not have control over anything except what you choose to believe and do- choose to elevate everything around you. Choose life.
Repair what is broken- Force yourself to Turn away from the face of evil and add something to the world- even while you are in shock, take a moment to be kind to someone, some small thing or kind thought, and take charge of your soul- be the captain. I have overcome a lot of damage just by putting one step in front of the other and laying a new foundation bit by bit in repairing a bit of the world. No one can take that away from me. When you see what you can do to make the world a better place, how the world responds to you, you won't listen to anyone who is only looking to fix you by telling you how you are broken. You have a broken,shattered heart and you already know that. End of story.
What is your goal now that you are moving away from this damaging environment? It's important to have an elevating goal that will inspire you to greatness, spiritual and otherwise. Also see: RegretAndWellbeing
If you are reading this, you are a person of considerable character and thought. You are not willing to lie down and die. You will not allow what happened to defeat you. You survived to get to this place- there is great strength in that.
Know what you stand for, what you are willing to live and to die for. Learn this about yourself as you work things through.
Know that this too shall pass and that the other side is wonderful, is amazing, something that you can't imagine right now. You will amaze yourself. In moments of despair and moments of soul searing loneliness, know that you are not alone. You are supported. And others have gotten through this and you will too. And you will do it with the dignity that is your birthright- in a perfectly human way.
1/28/03, ©2003-2009, InvictaMA, Counseling Psychology.