First of all, those reactions are all totally normal. When someone makes us feel “lesser”, it’s in human nature to stand up and try to reclaim some dignity. As we all know, psychopaths don’t just make you feel “lesser”—they try to make you feel completely worthless. They brag and display a lot of superiority, which inherently makes us not want to give them any satisfaction. And so a big part of healing is putting them down (labeling all of their bad behavior for what it was) and pulling ourselves up (recognizing our own good qualities & values).
That process helps to create boundaries and self-respect, allowing us to feel above this idea that the psychopath “won”. But for me, that was not a long term fix.
The fact is, I was deeply hurt by what happened. The cheating created intense feelings of unworthiness and insecurity. The criticisms left me feeling ugly and not good enough. The silent treatment made me feel needy and inherently unlovable.
No amount of anger or blame or self-respect or accomplishment changed that. When we’re in this mindset of “I won’t give them supply (so I win)” or “I have a conscience & they don’t (so I win)” or “I hope their new relationship implodes (so I win)” or “I hope they see how happy/successful/healthy I am now (so I win)”, we’re not in touch with our pain. We’re distracted from our vulnerability, with a very obscure sense of control.
The distractions are necessary in the early stages of recovery, to avoid breaking contact and getting lost in cognitive dissonance. But at some point, we don’t need them anymore.
When I put aside my distractions, underneath it all was my truth:
– I feel worthless
– I feel unlovable
– I feel replaceable
– My feelings don’t matter
– I will never be enough
As someone who came from a very supportive/loving childhood, these feelings were foreign to me and I had absolutely no idea what to do with them. Perhaps that’s why my reactions in the early stages were so volatile.
Without my distractions, I was left with only myself. How could I begin to unravel those feelings, when most of the time all I could feel was numbness/tightness?
I’ve documented some of that journey in these threads:
The Long-Term Effects of Psychological Abuse on the Body & Subconscious Mind:
Meeting Fight or Flight Mode with Compassion & Love:
The Heart & Mind:
What I’m trying to say with this thread is, it’s okay to feel devastated. It’s okay to feel hurt. When we focus on the suffering underneath our distractions, “winning” isn’t even a valid concept anymore.
When you begin to identify and care for the wounds deep within your own heart, I guarantee you will not care about “winning” ever again. And I don’t mean “Haha! I’m not thinking about you anymore, I win!” (which is a bit silly). I just mean, the very concept of “winning” will not matter to you.
Your heart needs you, and your heart does not care about fault or blame or winning.