The Stages of Healing

Healing is a progression:

Step 1: It sucks.
Step 2: It sucked.
Step 3: It sucked, but I’m ok.
Step 4: Life is grand!
Step 5: Let me help others who are at step 1 in this journey.

I think it’s fairly common to cycle through these steps, even irregularly … You might be at a level 1, take a vacation, and escalate to a 4 – then come back down to a 1 or 2. Or you might have days where you go between 3, 4, 5 all day long. Or you might be at a steady 4-5 and suddenly go back to step 1 because of a confrontation with the abuser or the abuser’s supporters (yep, been there).

Don’t get the guilties over it, my friends. Make the decision daily to come up higher, to go deeper in Jesus, from wherever you happen to be. Over time, healing will hold steady.

Never honour dishonour

Never honor dishonor. Mordecai never honored Haman. He was defiant to the dishonor in Haman. Jesus was defiant to the dishonor in the sons of hell. When we honor dishonorable people in our lives we open up ourselves to abuse. Abusers honor dishonor. To honor those who grieve the Holy Spirit is to dishonor the Holy Spirit. The seasons that lies ahead of us is not calling for community with dishonor but communion with Christ’s Order. – Ricardo Watson


You can be happy.

One of the saddest moments in my journey was when the person who abused me said, “You have no right to be happy, and you shouldn’t pursue happiness.” And in a moment of wanting to please, I ditched happiness. Even after things hit the fan and I began to recover, I still somehow clung to the insane idea that something is wrong with happiness.

Then I found this in the Word of God (and this and this and this):

Gen 30:13 – Then Leah said, “I am happy, for the daughters will call me blessed.” So she called his name Asher.

Deu 33:29 – Happy are you, O Israel! Who is like you, a people saved by the LORD…

1Ki 10:8 – Happy are your men and happy are these your servants, who stand continually before you and hear your wisdom!

Job 5:17 – Behold, happy is the man whom God corrects; Therefore do not despise the chastening of the Almighty.

Psa 127:5 – Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them…

Psa 128:2 – When you eat the labor of your hands, You shall be happy, and it shall be well with you.

Psa 144:15 – Happy are the people who are in such a state; Happy are the people whose God is the LORD!

Psa 146:5 Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help, Whose hope is in the LORD his God,

Pro 3:13 Happy is the man who finds wisdom, And the man who gains understanding;

Pro 3:18 She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her, And happy are all who retain her.

Pro 16:20 He who heeds the word wisely will find good, And whoever trusts in the LORD, happy is he.

There are certainly more – but surely that’s enough to convince you that God WANTS you to be happy, isn’t it?

I put the last one in bold because I really believe that the issue of happiness is tied in to an attitude of trust. I also believe that this is a universal principle among sociopaths – to rob their supply of happiness (in effect, leaching it for themselves) and to set themselves up as a false god in whom you place your trust. OF COURSE it doesn’t look like that when you’re in the thick of things … But once you escape, it becomes fairly obvious.

Just like a certain entity in a certain garden, someone came to you and said “Has God indeed said?” And, just like the woman, we see that the fruit being offered is “desirable” … And, just like the woman, we become trapped. The enemy has a hook in you, and it’s called idolatry. (Gosh – that is a hard word. It makes it seem like I’m saying that victims are the ones in the wrong. I’ll write about my thoughts on that in another post). 

Idolatry is simply what happens when we trust in something other than God, including when we use an intermediary other than Jesus between us and God. It happens when we mis-place our trust in man. It happens when a sociopath says, “Did God really say that?” And it happens when the sociopath says, “You weren’t called to that” and it happens when the sociopath says, “Are you sure? You’ve got to be sure.” And the implication is that you shouldn’t be sure at all, that you’re wrong and he’s right. (This is what gas lighting looks like).

Bottom line: You’re only happy when you’re trusting the Lord. If that trust has been systematically eroded, bit by bit over time or all at once (I’ll talk about the tactics used in another post), then it becomes IMPOSSIBLE to be happy … Until.

Break free from all of this, my friend. If you’ve been feeling miserable, if you’ve been feeling trapped, if you’ve been UN-happy, it’s time to make a change. Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. Within the Kingdom is happiness in ever-increasing levels. God WANTS you to be happy.


Lurking behind every corner?

I’ve read statistics like 1 in 25 – 4 percent of Americans – millions and millions of people – are sociopaths.

Sorry, I just can’t buy that. I can’t believe there’s four sociopaths living in our neighborhood. Not accepting that there’s half a dozen in our church. No way are there twenty kids in an elementary school that are sociopaths. Almost three times as many sociopaths as there are kids with autism? NO way.

Could that many people have some sort of personality difference or disorder that makes them have some tendencies and markers for this? Oh, probably. Is it possible this is a growing problem with increasing numbers of people affected? Yes, absolutely, it is.

But that many? I’ll say it again … NO way.

I think it’s important, especially as someone who was so severely emotionally and spiritually hurt by a sociopath that I wasn’t sure I would survive, to say this. Not everyone is a sociopath. Even people who are exquisitely screwed up are not necessarily sociopaths. Even people who have some tendencies toward these behaviors may not be one. Controlling, abusive leaders are not necessarily sociopaths.

  • True sociopaths take delight in pulling wings off flies – and off people – and watching them buzz.  Other control-issue folks take elaborate steps to confine the fly. If they pull its wings off, it’s to keep it from flying – not to watch it buzz.
  • True sociopaths are systematic and consistent in their approach, leaving no stone unturned. They may make notes or mind-maps of different people, especially their supply, and/or have a photographic-type memory. Other control-issue folks seize the moment and twist it to their advantage, inconsistently.
  • True sociopaths, when confronted with their sins and offered forgiveness, will say “There’s nothing to forgive” or even “It’s not about you, it’s about me and how you’ve hurt me.” If cornered, they may offer fake apology or receive forgiveness fakely, but only if someone in authority pressures them to do it. Control-issue folks will either apologize or attack.
  • True sociopaths, according to psychiatrists, cannot change. I won’t go that far, because God does impossible things. Apart from him, the only changes they make are becoming a better, more hidden, sociopath. People with control issues can make a conscious decision to change. It may be messy, but they’ll get there.

Whether you’re dealing with a sociopath or a control freak, YOU need healing. You need to be in a safe place, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. You need to take control of the situation for yourself and get help. You can’t change the person. You can’t change the situation. You can only change your participation in it.

First Steps of Freedom

When you break free from sociopathic abuse, you can expect to go through an exceedingly challenging season. Chances are, you were cast aside as effortlessly and emotionlessly as one might discard a seashell on the beach. You’ve been lied to, cheated, manipulated, gaslighted, and systematically torn down. Simply put, you’ve been USED. You’ve been “supply” for a narcissistic sociopath.

Your situation is probably even more convoluted because those around you still love and believe the sociopath, not you. You may have become ostracized in your family or social group. You may be told that it’s you that has the problem, you’ve had it all along, the sociopath was trying to help you. Others will simply refuse to discuss your situation and will act like absolutely nothing is wrong.

Suddenly, you’re left all alone, and it feels like someone just hit your soul like it was a mirror. Shards flew everywhere. Only a few of them reflect reality now (hat is reality, anyway?) You’re not even sure you can find all the pieces, much less make that glass whole again.

Beloved, I am here to tell you that you can be whole again. You can be free. You can learn to trust yourself and trust other people again. You can become so whole, you’ll never be abused in this way again. And you can do it without becoming an apath (emotionless) or a sociopath yourself.

I don’t believe that these steps below are something that should be undertaken in order, but rather “all at once”. Don’t do one without the other.

#1 – Find someone that you can trust.

This could be a spouse, friend, pastor or church leader, counselor, etc. Yes, it’s hard to trust after what you’ve suffered – but make a conscious decision, and do it. There is someone around you who sees that you are hurting, and genuinely wants to help. This can be difficult to do within your own social context because most people in that social group are part of the life of the sociopath already. Don’t hesitate to consult a professional.

You will want to confine your discussion of the sociopath to this one person, at least at first, especially if you have remained in a family or social group with the NS. There’s no sense in starting a war of words and emotion and pain against a sociopath. They’ll enjoy all the drama, and they’ll win.

#2 – Begin writing things down.

I was very fortunate to have a series of texts and emails spanning years with the sociopath in my life. Once everything unraveled I could look back and see the effects of gaslighting and deliberate manipulation upon my soul. Even if you don’t have communication with your abuser in writing, you’ve probably got it with other key people in your life, be they non-supply, support supply, detractors or people who just pretend nothing is going on.

Writing is therapeutic and easy to look back upon when you have a “moment”. It helps you with step #3. It helps you on those dark nights when you feel like you’re about to lose it. It helps you to become more grounded; things in writing have a level of “concrete” to them that thoughts do not. In some cases, your writing may help with civil or criminal court proceedings against your abuser.

Writing is deliberate.  Write, and read. Read, and write.

#3 – Learn how to play “real or not real” for REAL, and get really comfortable with the process.

I coined this term after reading Mockingjay (Suzanne Collins). Peeta was kidnapped by the Capitol, tortured, gaslighted to an extreme, and then turned loose to kill Katniss. After serious intervention, Peeta begins to glimpse that perhaps not everything is as his mind currently believes. He has memories that he’s not sure are real or false, so he tells Katniss the memory and asks, “real or not real?” over and over again until he has things sorted out in his own mind.

As survivors of sociopathic abuse, we have endured something quite similar. Our perceptions of everything have been shaken to the core. Memories may have been manipulated, thought patterns are askew, right and wrong seems muddled. This is because the abuser has played “real or not real” with us, and they’ve enjoyed the game immensely. We’re not sure exactly what IS real any more. The truth is, NONE of it is real.

Now it’s time to find out what’s REALLY real, for real, once and for all. What is the rock-solid truth?

Something I’ve learned in my journey is that not everything the NS said was false or untrue. Stated facts were often facts, especially when the NS was teaching in the area of his expertise. I believe this happened because he was plagiarizing the work of other people, anot her fact that I have well-documented.

Another thing I’ve learned, related to what I just said, is that the NS will use things that are real and exploit those to the max, making them NOT REAL – he will work to convince you that you are damaged goods that cannot survive without his help (and you really do have wounds that need healing) – convince you that you don’t know certain truths and must rely on him (and you really didn’t know certain things) – convince you that certain people are against you and he can help resolve that issue (and they really may have an issue with you). The best and most effective lies are those with an element of truth, and the sociopath understands how to exploit this principle.

At first, my real-or-not-real was confined to me – he’d told me that I was lacking certain things, needed healing or deliverance in certain areas, had treated people badly, that I needed to change, that I could never achieve the high calling that God has on my life without the help he was offering. NOT REAL. Not even remotely real. The devil is a liar. So is the sociopath (in fact, lucifer was the first sociopath). Then I began to question everything I’d been told about relationships I was in – people I’d allegedly wounded (that turned out not to be the case), people I’d actually wounded (that the sociopath was convincing me that I should hurt in certain ways). CRAP-LOADS OF NOT REAL.  Later, my real-or-not-real began to question everything I’d ever been taught – quite literally, everything – not just what he had taught, but also everything I had ever been taught. This was a maddening, painful, and necessary process, because much of it was NOT REAL.

I’ll say it again – the most effective lies are based upon the truth. They can be just the tiniest bit “off” and still be a devastating lie.

#4 – Repair your relationship with God.

If you were not a Christian before, now is the time. Invite Jesus into your heart and life. Surrender to Him, and He will help you clean up all those shards of broken glass and, rather than gluing it all back together, He’ll make everything in your life brand new.

If, like me, you were already a believer, the best – and the scariest – part of all of this is admitting to God that there was some kind of fracture in your relationship with Him. Believe it or not, you may one day come to thank the sociopath in your life for exposing that so it can be healed. But come boldly to the throne of grace, my friend – allow Him to clean up all those shards of broken glass and make everything brand new again. Allow Him to take you by the hand down the path of healing and wholeness.

#5 – Stay immersed in the Word.

One of the scariest things about the sociopathic process is how the Word of God becomes convoluted in your heart at their hands. Little things at first, and those little things eventually become big things.

Picture the Word of God as being pure white. At first, the sociopath adds the tiniest amounts of black to it – so imperceptibly that probably only God Himself would notice. But just as gallons of water become tainted by one drop of raw sewage, eventually the contagion spreads – the understanding of the Word becomes darkened. The few who announce “Hey, it’s a bit gray” are ostracized, labeled religious, or removed from power. The sociopath’s supply and support supply continue on with him until nobody would notice if it was red, green, or pinkypurple.

NOTE: I believe that sociopathic abuse differs from doctrinal error. That’s way outside the scope of this post, so I’ll just say that all sociopaths have bad doctrine and a fundamentally flawed relationship with God, but not all people with bad doctrine and a fundamentally flawed relationship with God are sociopaths.

You might think this NOT REAL distortion of the Word only happens in church abuse, but people who are abused in the workplace, families, even neighborhoods end up with the same skewed perceptions of what the Word says – even in situations where the Word isn’t being taught or even discussed! I’m not sure how this happens except to say that sociopathy has a unified source that finds many expressions, but each expression points back to the source.

At first – probably for a whole year – I read the Word in context of the abuse I’d suffered. I’d read verses (especially out of Proverbs) and say to myself “Well, he taught that, but he sure didn’t believe it” or “that’s in direct violation of what he said!” Over time, Holy Spirit began to show me that while this was healthy in its season, it was no longer good for me – In the second year, I began reading in the context of the flaws within my soul that had exposed me to this horror. Step by step, He led me to places in the word and healed me. Eventually Holy Spirit encouraged me to simply read and study out of love and enjoyment and fellowship again … And that is the best thing ever.

These are only five steps toward wholeness. Of course there are many more. I believe these represent the starting place.