Processing the painful emotions, part 4 of 4

Truth, letting go and the prayer

Did and didn’t
It’s easy to identify what people did. It takes a little more time and focus to identify what they didn’t do. Here’s the Didn’t Do List for the gang at our typical sociopathic extended family holiday event.

Didn’t Do List
♦ Stand and approach us when we arrived
♦ Greet us
♦ Smile when they saw us
♦ Talk to us
♦ Show interest in us
♦ Sit with us

Sociopathic Christmas party ingredients: Silence, a storm and servitude
Yes, I’ve endured three- to five-hour Christmas events where several people said not one sentence to me the whole time, and where Brandon was yelled at in front of everyone. We’re done with that. During a recent Christmas, Brandon was expected to spend mucho time putting together a complicated toy bought for a child who calls him “White Man” instead of Uncle Brandon because he doesn’t even know Brandon’s name. Good grief. (Did you notice the word Enslaved in the List of Sociopath-induced Feelings in an earlier post?)

What attitudes and lies did my sociopathic mother-in-law, Delia, spread about us to achieve such dutiful, well-trained accomplices?
They’re trouble.
We don’t like them.
We don’t want them here.
We have to invite them.
They’re not good enough for this family.

I’m sure I’ve missed quite a few of her mantras, but I’m not a member of Her Majesty’s Gang, thank goodness.

Homework, part 2
In my first post and in Portrait of a Sociopath, part 4, I told you about our Best Homework Ever, and recommended that you start writing a list of disturbing things your sociopath has done and said. If you’ve already written that list, think now about what the sociopath didn’t do and didn’t say…. What basic, normal relationship attitudes, characteristics and behaviors have been missing? Start writing your Didn’t Do List and add to it as you think of new things that never were, but should have been.

This second list—your Didn’t Do List—will highlight things in a deeper way as you continue to process your painful emotions. There’s pain from what was done and there’s also unseen, sometimes-unrecognized pain from what wasn’t done.

Homework assigned wisely and done well can be extremely helpful. Sometimes it can be very healing, as it brings clarity and truth. But maybe you need more than help and healing. Do you need a whole new life?

The cost
There’s something else that will help you in ways that words can’t fully explain, and it won’t cost you a penny. But it’ll cost you everything, in the best way. Like your true investment in your counseling (your willingness to tell the truth, your attention to your counselor’s wisdom, your changes in thinking and living), you’ll reap (i.e., harvest) what you sow (i.e., plant). You’ll get out of it what you put into it. If you dabble in it, you won’t see results. If you dive in, you’ll see a whole new world.

First, let’s explore why we need this “something else.”

Anxiety and a better blanket
What does all this chaos and manipulation do to you? As you grow more and more accustomed to a sociopath’s unpredictable ways, you’ll probably find your anxiety ratcheting up, very gradually, silently, almost undetected. This is normal. You’re dealing with a skilled professional who hunts, grooms and uses victims for entertainment.

Spinning thoughts
You understand that the sociopath in your life creates chaos, and you try to steer clear as much as possible. But it nags you… the last crazy thing Her Majesty did or said. It nags you. It stays with you, whether or not you forgave her. It lingers. Because it isn’t over. She’s still there, even if you won’t see her for months. To forget what she is makes you vulnerable. So you have to remember. You have to be prepared. You have to be on guard for the next attack. That’s the kind of thinking that can spin in your head… until it doesn’t. I know those thoughts because I’ve been there.

Truth without anxiety
Let’s walk ahead with the truth—I’m dealing with a sociopath—without embracing anxiety as a security blanket, because anxiety is a painful, scratchy blanket that leaves us with a chronic rash. We need a warm, fuzzy, comforting blanket instead.

How do we trade in our Anxiety Blanket for a Better Blanket? This is challenging. It’s hard.

Letting go
We have to let go of both our fear and our need to protect ourselves. We have to accept that we can’t control a sociopath. We can put certain boundaries and safe-guards in place, like not answering the door when sociopaths or their accomplices show up uninvited, blacklisting them on our phones and email accounts, skipping certain holiday and social events, etc. But the real bottom line is this. We have to ask and rely on God to protect us, and we have to let go of our fear of the unknown.

Yes, there are evil people out there. If you’ve been dealing with a sociopath, you know that all-too-well. You’ve seen and felt evil up close and personally, as they say.

The verse and the prayer
I have a Bible verse for you—my go-to verse in times of stress and trouble. If you memorize it and really live it, it can bring major change to your life like it’s brought to mine.

1 Peter 5:7

How does this verse help me? When times are tough, I say this verse in my mind and then I actually do what it says. I pray to God silently. My prayer sounds like this: God, I’m giving my worries about this problem to you because I know you want to carry them for me. I’m letting go of the What ifs. Guide me and show me what you need me to do.

In other words, I’m acknowledging that God knows what’s coming, so I don’t need to worry about it. Besides, most of what I worry about never actually happens, so worrying spins me up for no reason. It’s fruitless. It’s bad for me.

Saying and praying 1 Peter 5:7 removes burdens that aren’t mine to carry. I feel so much better after saying this verse and the prayer. A big weight is lifted off of me. I’ve successfully traded my painful, scratchy, rash-causing Anxiety Blanket for my warm, fuzzy, comforting Better Blanket.

When you find yourself worrying about something, give 1 Peter 5:7 a try. Say it. Pray it. And then snuggle up with your Better Blanket.

Comfort, strength and peace
Earlier this year, during a particularly stressful time in my life, I started reading the book of Psalms in the Old Testament of the Bible. I read one Psalm each morning. It didn’t take long each day. Here’s the transforming part. I experienced great comfort and drew great strength and peace from this simple reading each morning.

The author of many of the Psalms, David, was being hunted by King Saul, who was planning to kill him. If you’ve felt hunted in your life, if you’ve felt despair, if you’ve felt lost, you’ll understand all the raw emotions David puts into his writing. If you thought the Bible didn’t have anything relevant to say for your life, I challenge you to check out the Psalms—one per day. The link to Psalm 1 is below. Start today….

Coming next: We’re moving toward Christmas “sans sociopaths.” Stay tuned for a short series on boundaries that includes a fun rewrite of “Jingle Bells.”

Healing through truth and music
Peaceful Readers, I’ve found great healing in my life through the beauty and truth of God’s word and through music. I hope the truths and songs that I share at the end of each post will bless you too.

Truth from The Word: Psalm 1

Song for Healing: I hope you enjoy this beautiful, peaceful bluegrass song.

“A Living Prayer” by Alison Krauss & Union Station

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