After my involvement with the psychopath,
I felt afraid. I wasn’t just afraid of him — I also felt fearful in a general way, experiencing a sense of fear that wasn’t attached to anything specific.
A ‘free-floating’ sense of fear is a good way to describe it, to borrow from the description of generalized anxiety disorder. I was afraid when I took my dog for a walk in broad daylight in a safe neighborhood. I hesitated, my hand frozen on my bedroom doorknob, before I’d open it in the morning. I wasn’t sure who or what I was so afraid of. I’d been preyed upon by a predator I didn’t even know existed, and to make matters worse, that predator was someone I loved and trusted. I didn’t feel safe anymore. It seemed that everything I was certain of was an illusion. I felt……vulnerable. Very vulnerable.
I came to learn that many who are victimized experience the same thing. Fear is part of the aftermath of trauma. The fear expands beyond the traumatic event that caused it, and we wonder, “what else might happen?” We are between places of safety, out in the open, seemingly without protection or defense.
“…It really is a strange and barren landscape and it takes time and self care to get back to a space of feeling safe – safe emotionally deep within the self, within ones own home, thoughts, identity, within one’s community and within ones sense of reality and trust…” A blog reader named Aurora, quoted in ‘Liminality, the Unsettling Space of In-Between’
Once you move beyond fear, you get your life back. You stand on solid ground and feel safe again, even while you have a more realistic sense of the dangers in life. You find that you’re braver and stronger than you were before. You see life differently and live life differently. It doesn’t change what happened to you, but what happened to you no longer controls you.
How do you get there? How do you move from fear to safety and confidence?
A lot goes into it. I think it’s a personal journey, one that is influenced by your unique past, experiences, needs and personality. But there are some generalities that can apply to all of us:
- Understanding what happened, and this includes understanding the psychopathic bond, understanding how the psychopathic mind works, and understanding how your own mind works. This includes learning how manipulation works and why it works. In doing so, you are also much less likely to be re-victimized. Another bonus is that self-blame and shame are eradicated. If you still experience those, it’s a sign that more learning is needed.
- Learning what your vulnerabilities are. This does not mean blaming yourself for what happened. Everyone has vulnerabilities, or weak spots, and they aren’t to blame — the predator who would take advantage of those vulnerabilities is to blame. But since predators exist, it’s in our best interest to know our vulnerabilities. Ironically, knowing what our weak points are makes us more confident about being able to protect ourselves. These vulnerabilities can stem from our past relationships and/or our life circumstances. When delving into the past, such as learning about the dynamics of your family of origin and your place in it and way of coping, a good therapist can be a great advantage.
- Resisting the urge to put the rose-colored glasses back on, and seeing reality for what it is. This enables us to make better decisions about people and relationships. It doesn’t mean being cynical; it just means being realistic. There’s plenty of bad in the world, and it’s best to avoid it. Being realistic allows us to do that and to experience the good things instead.
- Boundaries. I can’t say enough about the value of good boundaries, and the willingness to defend them. Without boundaries — or with a vague sense of boundaries — we remain vulnerable. Taking the time to learn about boundaries and defining our own is vital, and it increases confidence a thousand fold.
- Learning about trust. Some of us need to go back to square one, and I was one of them. We need to learn how to trust and who to trust, and of equal importance (or maybe even more), we need to learn to trust ourselves. If you’ve accomplished the other things on this list, there is no reason not to trust yourself.
Finding what helps you move from fear to confidence is a worthwhile and vitally important pursuit. There are many resources to help you accomplish it. Explore the links to books and articles in the sidebar of this website. Also, explore this website itself by clicking on the blog page in the menu above and reading the posts that catch your eye. Work with a good psychotherapist. Get back in touch with your spirituality, if that works for you. Adopt a dog from the pound — one that’s right for you — and gain a best friend who’s non-judgmental, and who will protect you to boot. Do whatever you need to do to move to the place you deserve to be, which is one of self-worth, wisdom, personal fulfillment and confidence.
The next post will be about personal protection (self-defense) training. It can do more than expected to build confidence.
♥ Thank you for reading.
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18 thoughts on “After the Psychopath: Moving From Fear to Confidence”
When I did a postmortem on why the psychopath was able to get around me so easily , what i realized was it was because of a lack of awareness and Childhood emotional neglect. I highly recommend reading the book ” Running on empty” by Jonice Webb. I was better able to understand myself after reading the book, and that i think is the first step in healing and regaining your self confidence. Thanks for another “wise post”. I learn a lot from them.
I realized the same thing when I examined my childhood. It’s so important to go back and take a good look, because it affects our lives in the present. Thank you for the book recommendation and for your comment, Ann!
Here’s the link to the book: Running on Empty: Overcome Your Childhood Emotional Neglect
“Running on Empty is the first self-help book about Emotional Neglect: an invisible force from your childhood which you can’t see, but may be affecting you profoundly to this day…”
I cant believe I fell for his bullshit. I am not a stupid person, went to grammer school so cant really be that stupid ? But hey I was , stupid enough to think that everyone is as honest and loving as me. He persuaded me somehoew to leave my home, my job and my 11 year old daughter for him, was under his spell. i moved 250 miles away from my home, my family and friends and my good life because he loved me so much and I was the love of his life ? What is love to them ? I had to marry him or else we were done. I married him , I didn’t want to , but I had left my home , my job and my daughter to be with this man who claimed to love me so much. Once I was there and had given up everything for him and he knew I had nothing to go back t, that’s when the torture began. He was constantly on the internet talking and flirting with women, if I complained then I was jealous and paranoid and insecure, and he hit me. He thaught because I had left everything to be with him, the loving and caring man he pretend to be , that I would stay and put up with his crap. After I married him, he would tell me he was going fishing or he was doing overtime and left me on my own, 250 miles away from my friends and family, all alone! Which is what he wanted me to be Isolated from the people who ltruly loved me. I found out that when he told me he was fishing and doing overtime he was meeting other women. We had only just got married, we were having sex all the time. i am slim , very attractive , loving , a good cook and yet still he chose to cheat on me with other women who were far less attractive than me. After less than 5 months of marriage I had enough, because he ignored me , critisised me , played mind games with me and made me feel insane. I had to go or else I would have died. Wanted to kill myself the pain was excruciable. Thank god I didn’t, I left him and came back to notthing, thank god my mum helped me, she rented a house for me to live in, till I could get back on my feet again. i wanted to die, but I couldn’t for my children and grandchildren’s sake I had to go on because they truly love me. I faught with all my might not to engage with him once I left , it was so so hard, I was addicted to him, but I had to do it , because if I didn’t then I would be dead now. Thank god I faught because now I am back on my feet again I have a lovely job a lovely home and all my lovely friends and family back in my life. I was vulnerable when I got involved wirh him, had been recently divorcedI , but was not in the least bit looking for another man, had been with my husband for 27 years . I was at last free and had my own place to live with my then 10 year old daughter, went on a game sight called king because I was bored and I like to use my brain. Didn’t know when I went on it, that other people can start sending you messages, didn’t want to know, but the man I married was very persistant and eventually I responded to him and that’s when I fell under Satans spell. There are men out there I know that are just prowling for vulnerable women to take advantage of, kind and loving women is what they are looking for. Wanted to try and stop him from hurting and doing the same thing to anyone else as he did to me because hes ruthless and toxic. Reported him to the police, he denied assaulting me, I had no witnesses, hw did it while we were alone, had pictures of my black eyes and other injuries ,but still he gets away with it. Don’t know if there is a way to stop him, or others like him. Just want other women out there going through the same thing to just run, run for your life, run for your future because despite what he might tell you, you are special , you are lovely and the future will be good for you once you can get away from under his spell. And it is a real spell and it takes guts and it takes help and it takes faith, but you can do it. I did, its so so hard bur its really possiblej, please believe me and please just do it, Satan cannot win, and I truly believe these men are evil beyond belief , truly the work of Satan. We can beat them , Good always triumphs over evil, the light will outshine the dark, don’t let them win , be strong and believe in yourself. He chose you because you are special, don’t let him believe your not. Lots of love and hope and faith and fortune to you all , who have suffered the living nightmare of a psychopath xxx
Jacqui, I read your story with my heart in my throat, and not until I got to the part where you returned home and had your friends and family back did I breathe again. It is a spell we are put under, and you’re right when you say “it takes guts and it takes help and it takes faith” to get out of it, but it can be done. Lots of love and faith and fortune to you, too XXX
Thank you jacqui, xxx I’m breathless and I have tears running down my face, reading your post, it was like reading my story. I’m so glad of the happy ending and you were so brave to leave after a few months. I’ve noticed over the past 18 months the support group I attend that younger women have shorter periods with their abuser than the older women. I hope it’s a sign that younger women are less tolerant of their psychos perverted behaviour and get out earlier, they are so brave, they usually have babies or young children and have to deal with further abuse by their psychos in the awful family courts. They are real heroes. It took me 20 years, and even when I learned that he was an abuser, I was going to help him, now that knew what the problem was ( I was sooo sure it was me that had the problem) how naive I was, I hadn’t a clue what I was dealing with. But over weeks, months and years, I learn about the horror I unknowingly introduced into the children’s lives, for this I am still hurting, for the evil I brought into their childhood. They are all adults now, they all have big hearts and love their brother and sisters I bore him, I like to think that love won out. He has all the assests, money and material things but we have the important things, the unconditional love of each other. It’s nearly 3 years since I first discovered what he is, 16 months later I moved us all out of family home, the best move ever, watching them thrive and live their lives free of him. I’m still in the courts, but we are away from him, my lawyer is looking for everything, we will receive what is right for us. And he will get what he deserves. Life is good, still lots to do, and a way to go but I feel this is the year that’s going to be extra special. Admin was there just when I needed her, thank you, it’s so difficult to articulate the massive affect you and your writings had on me, it seemed each post was written especially for me. xxx
What a journey!
Keep shining a light, and wishing all a happy st Bridget’s day. The first day of spring and we are still standing. xxx
Love has won out, Nearlybel! Jaqui said it so well, “Good always triumphs over evil, and the light will outshine the dark.” We know this is true. It is a journey, one we never planned to take, but here we are. I’m very happy that I was there for you and able to help. Thank you. I will keep shining the light long as I can. Happy St. Bridget’s Day to you, too XXX
Just found this site…was married to a Narcissistic/Social Psychopath for 25 yrs. It changed my life forever. We had two children together, who think their dad is wonderful & I am the bad guy. The betrayal, lies, manipulation, con games. I met him on the beach at Waikiki when I was only 19 and a nanny. Nanny family was in Hawaii for vacation. Although we have been divorced for 23 yrs. I will never be the same. I also live in fear, hyper-vigilance, and the aftereffects of trauma. I can spot a Psychopath a mile away. I went on to graduate school and received my MSW & am in the beginning stages of writing a book. I have spoken by phone with Stanton Samenow, and have also spoken with Madalyn Tobias & Janja Lallich who wrote “Captive Hearts Captive Minds, which is probably currently not as popular. I purchased the book while at in-patient treatment at Wellspring in Albany Ohio. They call what we who have been taken hostage by Psychopaths “one on one cultic relationships”. Although we who become involved with Psychopaths have been labeled Co-Dependent, it is my belief that what I have experienced falls within the boundaries of Stockholm Syndrome. Will be posting on here in the future and am very greatful to have some “peeps” who “get it”.
“One on one cultic relationships” is a perfect description. and I completely agree with the idea of these experiences being within the bounds of Stockholm Syndrome. They’re experts at creating that bond. These creeps do change our lives forever, in so many ways. I’ll be looking forward to your book, so please let me know when it’s published. All the best to you, Sally.
I didn’t know you had another book, More Psychopaths and Love. I just ordered it, and am sure it will help me to move from fear to confidence. Every book I read seems to help me have a better understanding of the truth about this disorder. I tried to order THe Emotional Rape Syndrome, and it said it wasn’t available in book form, only kindle. I don’t have a kindle yet.
Thanks for these excellent books and blogs that are teaching me so much.
Hope, you can download a kindle reader app for your PC on Amazon for free, and read ebooks on your computer: Read Everywhere with our Free Reading Apps
Yes, there is a new book…More Psychopaths and Love! I haven’t announced it yet but a few people have found it. I’m glad you got the paperback. To me, there’s just something different about reading an actual book you can hold in your hands. I organized it in a way that I hope will bring about a deeper understanding. Let me know what you think!
I agree with the “One on one cultic relationship”. When I broke up from my psycho, I felt an enormous release and sense of freedom. I told him that I felt like I had been in a cult. He laughed, he just didn’t get it. But that’s exactly how I felt, released from the pressure of all those mind games so I could be myself again.
I had the same reaction — it was such a relief to be free from that intense mental pressure, which I didn’t even know I was under until it was gone. It really is intense mental pressure, and it leaves no room at all to be yourself.
Now that the light is shying again in my life, reading and empathising with the pain of recent abuse targets brings it all flooding back in graphic colour. Only the smallest details differ, but our stories are all so much the same. Like you, this site and these posts could have been written just for me. At first, it is so hard to even believe that such monstrous creatures exist, that what happened to us really happened – especially when friends and family are blaming us for ‘being the bad guy’ when he is so charming and carefree and we are reduced to angry, fearful, confused wrecks!
Mine is really a serial psyche killer. The fourth wife to be love bombed with lies and charm, the person I was is now long dead. I was a ghost for a year, but after learning via Buddhist Mindfulness practice to become calm, detached, lean into the suffering he caused, thinking deeply and studying psychopathic behaviour, I am just taking my first baby steps as an entirely new person. One who knows how to love me, be my own therapist (although a real therapist is a must, in my opinion too), rely on no one, trust no one until they earn it, and live like a person free from the restraints of living to please others in the hope of getting love and validation from outside myself.
The good DOES come. It feels like forever, but it comes. Staying stone cold sober stopped me from slipping into my habitual denial too, but that’s just my thing. Not for everybody. My heart goes out to all you poor, poor targets. No one but a target can possibly understand the depth of pain. Shucks, most people don’t even BELIEVE us! Just hang in there. You’ve been to hell, but there is a path back from there. There really is.
Thanks for sharing this, Nicola. Like you said it takes time, but the good does come. And ‘living as a person free from the restraints of living to please others in the hope of getting love and validation from outside myself’ was one of my biggest gains, too. That’s enormous! Unfortunately, we had to go through hell to reach that place, but at least it is possible to get through that hell, come out the other side, and actually make some incredible gains from the whole thing.
Learning Mindfulness is very powerful. I highly recommend it! I took the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction course locally, but there is a free course online for those who are interested: Online Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR)
The teacher is a fully certified MBSR instructor by the University of Massachusetts Medical School and has been teaching live, in-person MBSR classes for more than 10 years. He’s also a professional psychotherapist.
“MBSR is a blend of meditation, body awareness and yoga: learning through practice and study how your body handles (and can resolve) stress neurologically. Through the online MBSR course, you will learn skills that can increase your ability to:
Cope with stress, pain, and the challenges of everyday life
Deal with disturbing events with grace and composure
Be fully present and alive in this moment
More than 30 years of research, much of it specifically studying MBSR, indicates that mindfulness training can have a significant therapeutic effect for those experiencing stress, anxiety, high blood pressure, depression, chronic pain, migraines, heart conditions, diabetes and other ailments. In addition, participants typically report feeling more alive, more “in-tune” with themselves and others.”
Learning more on the subject of psychopathy has helped me. That and another ex of his approached me and we began to compare notes, which I could also compare with anything I was reading on the topic.
Learning about psychopathy helps a lot. I knew absolutely nothing before I was victimized, and as I learned, I found out he was a prototypical psychopath who did everything but come right out and tell me. Another thing I didn’t realize at the time was that I was surrounded by several of his former victims. It’s obvious now, and very sad that they never figured out the truth. If they had, they wouldn’t have continued hanging around, being relentlessly ignored and leaving in tears. Those of us who learn what really happened are the lucky ones, because the alternative is horrifying to consider.
Best wishes to you, JGB. I hope you’re doing well. Thanks for your comment.
That is what perplexes me, that many victims don’t even realise what’s happening. My psycho was in a marriage (3rd one) for 35 years before he met me. She died of cancer, my heart weeps for her because she must have suffered much more than just the cancer. Apparently she was a lovely caring person and they had 4 children who she single handedly raised. Life must have been hell for her, but she’s at rest now.
I think his second wife discovered his condition because he said she took him off to counciling where it was discovered that he didn’t love her and was too domineering, but he said he was misunderstood?!
I should have seen these red flags, 3 marriages, two of his children hate him and won’t talk to him, umpteen affairs. I’m out now, that’s what’s important. Never, never again will I trust someone like that.
“That is what perplexes me, that many victims don’t even realise what’s happening.” I’m willing to bet that more don’t realize it, during or after, than those who do. They buy the whole charade, hook, line and sinker. Just imagine if you believed you found your soul mate, your greatest love…and then you weren’t deemed worthy of that love, because your numerous ‘faults’ wrecked the whole thing….and you believed that, along with all the horrible crappy things he wanted you to believe about yourself…and then you never figured out the truth. How awful is that? It could permanently destroy someone’s self-worth. Not everyone has the wherewithal to google down to the bottom of things. I feel so sorry for those people who will never know what hit them. This kind of thing has been happening forever, and before the time information was so available or even known, many more were left in the dark.
I’ll never trust someone like the psycho I knew, either. But as you said, we’re out now, and that’s what’s important! And we figured it out, and that’s important, too. My obsessive googling turned out to be more than just a waste of time.
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