The last few days have been really tough for me. A new illness to learn to manage, my car breaking down, the year of “firsts” without my psychopathic ex, our birthdays and the upcoming holidays…. It’s a combination of unhappiness and feeling overwhelmed. This morning, while reading my emails, the newsletter for Sandra Brown’s “Sandra Says” column showed up, as it does every week. I love her articles, as well as Claudia’s, and find them very healing for me. This article is entitled About face-changing the direction to which you seek happiness. I’ll include the link here:
This article was probably the biggest lightbulb moment in my recovery. Not just concerning my past encounters with pathology, but also the reality that the happiness I was seeking was OUTSIDE OF MYSELF. It dawned on me that while my goal of completing school was somewhat thwarted by my newly diagnosed illness, this was the point where I had changed direction to find happiness. As the article points out, it does not bring happiness, ultimately, it merely changes the focus of my DISTRACTIONS from what needs to be my “new normal” and in achieving genuine happiness.
With this, I also realized that my “dependency needs” had switched focus towards my children, grandchildren and close friends. While they can and do offer support, they cannot make ME happy. Those closest to us can also become distractions because the focus is not where it needs to be, which is within. It is irresponsible of me to expect that my focus on others should create a happiness that I need to create for myself. It is also a burden that they do not deserve from me. Part of recovering from pathology is to build ourselves up from within, no matter what our circumstances are. Along with a genuine happiness from introspection, insight and emotional/spiritual growth, comes a humility based upon having had experiences that can be used as tools to help others seeking direction on their own paths to self-discovery. It is a calm, quiet, PEACEFUL self-reflection that can be shared with others. The hard part is getting there. It takes work. A lot of work.
I have activated my Facebook account again. This time, it’s very different than before. I find myself observing the lives of others, given in bits and pieces, through the FB news feed. Most of these posts are about relationships: finding them or losing them. Many speak of feeling lonely and finding the “right” person to date or spend their lives with. Often, they are depressed because they are in pathological relationships or acting pathological themselves, without realizing it. The common denominator in all of these posts that I observe is UNHAPPINESS. Seeking happiness from other people, or in other THINGS. I’m also noticing that those that have much, have very good jobs, make a lot of money, are also some of the MOST unhappy. Even with all they have monetarily, they are deprived personally and emotionally. They feel EMPTY.
I noticed that those without money were just as UNHAPPY, but the have’s and have not’s have ONE thing in common: looking to find their happiness outside themselves. This is what got us into BIG trouble with our pathologicals. It could have been something as simple as loneliness, or the feeling that while “fulfilled” in some areas of our lives, something was MISSING. Psychopaths pick up on that. Quickly. At first we think we’ve hit the jackpot in love and happiness. It is temporary, and gravely disappointing and painful, not just because the psychopath duped us, but because our lack of personal happiness allowed us all to open the door when the psychopath knocked.
That is the biggest pill to swallow in recovery. I believe we are disoriented, as well as “disenchanted” and in deep pain as a consequence to our involvement with a psychopath, but more so in understanding that the psychopath keyed into our deepest fantasies. We dreamed of finding love and happiness in another human being rather than in quiet reflection and meditation, learning to seek happiness from our own core. The most difficult and challenging thing I think any of us will do in the aftermath, is not seek out another distraction, whether that be work, money, material possessions, school or others, but to look at the darker side of ourselves. We need to examine for what internal reasons we couldn’t be truly happy alone, or without a relationship for awhile; why we were so driven to make someone else happy, believing that was the key to our own happiness. This is precisely what the psychopath counted on to keep his/her power and control over our lives. That drive to attain a higher level of happiness through the another person created the addiction to the psychopath and for the relationship. It was a pointless pursuit.
The adjustments to my life now will be many. It’s fair to say that while I enjoy going to school and pursuing my goals, it does not make me feel “happy” inside. I have a tendency to view the unexpected in life from a spiritual perspective. I believe that things happen for a reason and that my higher power is trying to teach me something about myself, to pay attention to what I ignore when distracted by external things. This is where I now need to learn to welcome life’s adversities as lessons that teach me about the nature of happiness. I think what it really means is the ability to sit alone with yourself and with God, COMFORTABLY. I‘m seeing that the addiction to the psychopath was filled with similar behaviors that accompany other pursuits that I’ve had in life, distractions and drama: ANYTHING but having to face myself and FIX my life.
Sandra Brown M.A. mentions in her article that those that tend not to get involved in pathological relationships again are those who find happiness within. I understand this now. If you’re happy with yourself, if you truly love yourself, “looking” for happiness outside of yourself, no matter what it is–person, place or thing–is all secondary. They are ADDED blessings. They ADD to your life but they are NOT your life and do not define you.
My illness, my car, my home, my children, my grandchildren and my beloved Hercules are all important elements of my life–relationships that I have–but they do NOT ultimately define ME. They are beautiful additions to my life in one form or another and I’m grateful for that and them, but I realize that I need to do a lot more work on creating happiness for myself. This means more time alone, more time in reflection, more time in therapy and more time spent alone with God. Pathology has been my biggest and best teacher. A springboard to the core of self. A catalyst for a future happiness that is far more meaningful and genuine than any relationship with anyone. The relationship with myself.