The last few weeks we have been talking about the necessity of living a gentle life if you are recovering from a pathological relationship. The damage it does to a person is profound and many are often diagnosed with a chronic stress disorder OR Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). These disorders respond best to a 'gentle life' that allows the body, mind, and spirit to rest from the overload of adrenaline and stress it has experienced in the pathological relationship. (Read our previous newsletters about this topic listed on our website.)
We have talked about physically how to 'adjust' your environment if you have a stress disorder and we also talked about the emotional effects—anxiety, depression, and other aftermath effects associated with PTSD. Today, we are going to talk about the spiritual effects.
Dangerous and pathological relationships violate at a deep soul level. That's because it touches on the core building blocks of our concepts about relationships—Trust, Love, and Hope. Deception is evil and sick and when you realize 'who/what' you have been with, there is a violation that cuts to the deepest part of a person: their spirit. Because of this, I devoted a portion of the Women Who Love Psychopaths book to the subject of spiritual evil and it's correlation to some of the symptoms associated with pathology. There's an interesting chart in the chapter that connects psycho-spiritual evil.
Often these kinds of pathological relationships have already 'played into' your soul connection ... leading you down the path of believing that your 'connection' was spiritual in nature. There were probably lots of promises of the 'life together' and all the 'reasons God brought you two together.' In the end, they were lies but before you knew they were lies, they were HOPES.
~ "Hope is the thing with wings, that perches in the soul." ~ (Emily Dickinson)
So many pathological relationships have "an intense attachment" that feels like 'connection' or 'passion' when in reality it is just the intense game of the 'pathological' sucking you in and hoping you will confuse intensity with something healthy.
But Hope, Love, and Trust are all core spiritual values and when you have invested those core values and beliefs in someone and then the heinous deception is revealed that the 'goal' of the relationship was to manipulate you all along, something 'rips' inside of you. This 'soul tearing' brings a spiritual skeptisim, a distrust that permeates everything you EVER believed ... sometimes even about God. It's a disastrous wound to your 'world view' and how you see yourself, others, God, and the world at large.
These mortal wounds to your world view can last a long time because, in effect, they are the ways you have come to 'believe' about yourself (I can't trust my intuition), others (everyone is evil), the world (it's a sick place) and God (He didn't protect me). This profound shift in your world view can increase the symptoms of PTSD—depression, anxiety, alienation, loneliness, isolation, and a fear or dread of the future.
So often the spiritual effects of the dangerous relationship are overlooked both by the victim and by the therapist. This 'world view' earth quake has shaken the foundation of your belief system. Without repair to the foundation from which you build your self concept, healing is limited to only symptom management. Spiritual healing of your world view is paramount to your overall recovery.
I have created a 15-minute audio (mp3) "Spiritual Effects' that goes into more detail about healing your world view and the spiritual effects of pathological. I think the audio will greatly help your understanding of WHY this part of yourself MUST be healed as well and how the unhealed aspects can impact depression, anxiety, reaching out to others, and your future relationships. (LINK TO MP3)
Also, if you are in counseling, please allow your counselor to listen to the mp3 too. This will help them address these issues with you in counseling. This is an area so often 'under treated' by other counselors. I teach on this aspect a lot at professional conferences and therapists are eager to understand this aspect of spiritual side effects and it's impact on chronic stress disorders.
(**If we can support you in your recovery process, please let us know. The Institute is the largest provider of recovery based services for survivors of pathological love relationships. Information about pathological love relationships is in our award winning book Women Who Love Psychopaths and is also available in our retreats, 1:1s, or phone sessions. See the website for more info.)
Gender Disclaimer: The issues The Institute writes about are mental health issues. They are not gender issues. Both females and males have the types of Cluster B disorders we often refer to in our articles. Our readership is approximately 90% female therefore we write for those most likely to seek out our materials. We highly support male victims and encourage others who want to provide support to male victims to encompass the issues we discuss only from a female perpetrator/male-victim standpoint. Cluster B Education is a mental health issue applicable to both genders.