Most of you who have been involved with a sociopath have been to therapists either with your partner or individually. Therapy is critical to healing from the PTSD of these relationships from control, abuse, manipulation and deceit, and hopefully you have found a therapist who knows techniques for helping PTSD. There is also the rebuilding of self and the grief of loss that therapy can help with, not to mention the potential stressful impact of divorce on yourself and any children. It would be fortunate if your therapist understands the type of relationship you’ve been in and the person you were with. This is all necessary and important, but there’s a critical piece missing to healing.
When you’ve been through such an unusual experience as that of being in an intimate relationship with a sociopath, it’s so hard to find anyone who truly understands you. Well-meaning friends and family, no matter how supportive and caring, still don’t completely understand the impact of these relationships on body, mind, and spirit. That can be painfully isolating. And if you haven’t been lucky enough to find a therapist who understands, that in and of itself can be retraumatizing and even more isolating. That’s why you all have found online blogs. To hear feedback and stories from others who have gone through the same thing goes a long way in the healing process.
A few years ago I attended seminar by Daniel Siegel, renowned trauma therapist and brain researcher. In one of the talks he said, “Nobody heals alone.” He went on to explain that humans, whose survival is based in social groups, also need the context of relationships to heal emotionally. This can include relationships with a therapist, a significant other, family, friends, and a higher power. There are hormonal and neuronal systems that activate in intimate human contact – when someone listens and talks to you, when they empathize. Without going into too much detail, these systems of empathic connection have the feature of creating feelings of attachment, soothing, security, and safety on a chemical level. It is probably why we seek human connection when we’re distressed. We’ve been doing it since we were infants. The more these empathic neurochemicals and hormones are activated in your nervous system, the more your brain heals from trauma. [Side note: psychopathic individuals have been shown to be deficient in some of these neurochemical systems.]
Point is, groups can be a significant source of healing, especially when you’ve been traumatized by something as rare as a relationship with a sociopath and feel isolated by it. When people come to our support groups they breathe a great sigh of relief. To be in a room with others who get what you’re saying without explanation, some of whom have come out on the other side and can give you hope, is powerful. The physical energy of others’ empathy and support is palpable. It must be those neurochemicals kicking in! You leave feeling a little better, a little calmer, a little more hopeful, a little stronger. The bonding that takes place from week to week increases the sense of support. Another great benefit of the groups is the feedback, resources, and guidance available from others.
If any of you live in NJ and would like to join us just once or often, you can do so through Meetup.com. Search for “Relationships with Narcissists, Sociopaths, Psychopaths” in a mile radius wide enough to include your location, and request to join. We meet in north central NJ. There is an off-shoot group getting started in South Jersey and one starting soon in Clifton, NJ. There are other off-shoots in FL, IN, UT, NC, CA, TX, CO, OH, Toronto, Australia, and South Africa. If you’re in any of those locations, do a search. If you feel called to start a group in your area, we offer a guidebook to starting and facilitating a support group. The guidebook is available through www.destructiverelationshipshelp.com, and we offer free assistance, too, if desired. We all know how much a support group would be appreciated by other sufferers in your area.
We also offer an online live chat room twice a month on the mentioned site. To get details, scroll down the home page to the Services section, and under Online Support Group click on the highlighted (in green) “live chat support group”. The link brings you to the chat page with the date and time for the next chat. At the time of the chat the link brings you to the opened chat room. We look forward to having you!
submited by – Mary Ann Glynn, LCSW