Finding Happiness Within After the Psychopath by Kelli Hernandez

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.

Why don’t psychopaths let go of their victims?

Several readers have indicated in your comments that the psychopaths you broke up with (or who broke up with you) don’t let you go. They can’t accept that the relationship is over. They still try to contact you even though you told them in no uncertain terms you wish to break all contact with them. Despite this finality, they still harass you with unwelcome emails or phone calls. Sometimes they use your child or children as intermediaries, making the situation even more painful and complicated. So the question arises: Why can’t psychopaths take no for an answer and let former relationships go?

I’ve offered one answer to this question in the post Relationship Boomerang. Psychopaths juggle many relationships at once. Some are in the idealization/luring phase; others are in the devalue phase; yet others are in the discard phase and finally many are in the discarded phase, to which the psychopaths return when they get bored with all of the above.

Since, fundamentally, psychopaths engage with other human beings only because they need idolaters and subjects to use and dominate, an insatiable and obstinate need for control is the main and most fundamental reason why psychopaths can’t let go of their victims. Letting go would mean that they lose ownership over former targets. They no longer can get them to do their bidding. They can no longer lie to and manipulate them. They can no longer use them for supply, be it an ego boost, sex, money, or power. Those targets are out of their reach, out of their hands.

This also means that those former targets can move on and have the opportunity to lead much healthier and better lives without the psychopaths. This is the one thing that a psychopath can’t tolerate: the idea that you are far better off without him. The idea that you can find love again, or regain control of the finances he decimated, or find a better career that he destroyed.

To move on, you need to sever all contact with the psychopath. The psychopath may not release you, but you can free yourself. If he emails you, keep all the emails and once you establish a pattern of cyberstalking turn them in to the authorities. Even rerouted IP can be identified by the police. If he calls, don’t answer. If he leaves messages on the phone, let the answering machine record them and keep them as evidence to show the police. A restraining order may not offer much protection, but proving a pattern of stalking could land the psychopath in jail. Keep all the evidence against him but never engage directly with him (or her) in any way.

Claudia Moscovici, psychopathyawareness

Dangerous Liaisons: How to Identify and Escape from Psychopathic Seduction


Moving On: Life After the Psychopath

Most of my posts have been about how to identify psychopathic traits and patterns of behavior and about understanding what drew the psychopath to you–and you to him–originally. I have also written several posts emphasizing the importance of no contact of any kind, passive or active, in being able to recover from the toxic relationship. But let’s say you now can recognize the features of psychopathy and narcissism. You are maintaining no contact. Yet you still ruminate obsessively about the relationship and you still feel trapped, somehow, inside of it. What do you do then?

My answer may sound somewhat circular: you’ve got to do everything possible to move on with the rest of your life. Fill your life with interests and activities other than thinking about the psychopathic ex. Focus on the relationships with people in your life who genuinely care about you and support you. Make new, genuine, friends. Find renewed energy in your job or in life goals, even those you might have given up on during the toxic relationship. Coming to terms with the truth about the psychopath and your relationship with him is essential to being able to let go of that person and your past together. But staying trapped in your past and ruminating endlessly about it–at the expense of other relationships or life goals–can become just another prison.

It can also foster negative personality traits that you may not wish to have, like paranoia or extreme distrust of all other human beings. In my last post, the review of Robert Conquest’s book on Stalin, I alluded to the atmosphere of mutual distrust cultivated under by a totalitarian dictatorship, where people started accusing family members and friends of deviationism–or of being traitors to the communist society and principles–and turning against each other. This phenomenon can happen anytime and anywhere, even if it’s more acute in dictatorships led by psychopathic tyrants.

Yes, it’s important to be cautious. Yes, it’s important to be aware of red flags in new relationships, or even older ones. Yes, it’s important to be aware of the signs of personality disorders. Yes, it’s important to cut off pathological individuals from your life. But what you want to avoid is you, yourself becoming pathological and living in an atmosphere of paranoia, pointing fingers at others left and right, and becoming consumed by the underlying hatred and distrust that characterized your relationship with the psychopath.

Moving on means, as Aristotle and other Greek philosophers urged, leading a well-rounded life. It means finding support and information about what you’ve gone through, both here and elsewhere, without neglecting all the other aspects of your life–family, friends, job, goals, exercise, enjoyment–that can free you from your painful past and help you escape the mental prison in order to live again.

Claudia Moscovici, psychopathyawareness

Dangerous Liaisons: How to Identify and Escape from Psychopathic Seduction