Redux: The Permanence Of Pathology
I’ve had a week out from both my private client and my corporate work, which has been a great time to reflect on and take stock of where my clients and I are in our co-created journey, as we approach the end of another year. My reflections threw up a theme for me, a theme that has been circulating and percolating over the past few weeks. It is the theme of feeling replaced and replaceable. I work with narcissistically inclined personalities, as well as those suffering from the effects of them. I hear variations on the same tale time and again. If there is a common cry from those left tending to the exit wounds inflicted by a pathological, it is, “Why is he/she so happy now? How have I been replaced so easily?’. Let’s take a closer look…
Nothing cuts deeper than than going through a drama-filled ending of a dysfunctional, pathological, abusive, addicted and/or sick relationship only to then find out that your ex has rapidly moved on and now seems ‘so happy.’ Women especially (so i’ll address the rest of my post to you) tend to conclude it must have been her fault. If her ex can be happy with someone else and not her, well then….it was some shortcoming in her and she needs to figure out just what ‘went wrong.’ and fix it. Ladies, ladies ladies…let’s begin with the ABC of Pathology. Pathology is:
- The inability to consistently sustain positive change
- The inability to grow to any emotional/spiritual depth
- The inability to develop meaningful insight about the effect of behaviour on others
When it comes to pathological behaviour (that of an individual with strong narcissistic, sociopathic or psychopathic traits and tendencies), the best predictor of future behaviour is past behaviour. So, what you have to ask yourself is how were his previous relationships? I don’t mean what he TOLD you they were (all her fault, she was a psycho and crazy) but what really happened in them.
If you developed a Relationship Time Line and wrote out all his relationships from his teen years forward, the ‘quality’ of them and why they ended, what would you conclude? How successful is this man in maintaining healthy relationships? Yup…that’s what I thought. How was his relationship with you? No, I’m not talking about the honeymoon cycle when both of you are living off of endorphins. I’m talking about the guts of the thing….the meat and bones of it.
So, he has a history of his own ‘Trail of Tears’ — a path littered with the lives of wounded women? Your relationship has left you as one more statistic of his pathological heart breaks.
Maybe you see the new person as getting all the good parts of him you always loved and none of the bad parts! After all, the reason it ended was all that bad stuff! Does it make you want to call her up and tell her what’s just around the corner in the relationship? Does it make you want to curl up in a fetal position and cry that he has found happiness with another? Time to stop the drama.
Remember – Pathology is the inability to sustain positive change” “the best predictor of future behaviour is past behaviour” — so just what does that mean? There are honeymoon phases of every relationship. Lovers live on the high of the ‘falling in love stage.’ We already know that pathologicals don’t ‘technically’ fall in love but they do hang around and experience some level of attachment. You experienced the whole endorphin falling in love sensation. Well, no doubt so is she. How long did yours last? A few weeks, months or maybe a year or two of ok-ness? What happened next? Oh yeah, you found out his lies or noticed his inconsistency, or caught him cheating. Once you confronted him then you got the narcissistic rage, then maybe you got the aloofness, or maybe he even went straight for the jugular and packed up and left.
Care to take a guess what’s highly likely to happen again? There will be another honeymoon, then she will notice his lies, inconsistency, or catch him cheating, then she’ll eventually confront him (or live forever with the miserableness of knowing what he’s doing and not having the ovaries to confront him) and then he’ll rage, punish her, reject her, ignore her or abandon her. So here we are – now she is also on his ‘Stepford Wives List of Rejects’. She’s one more tear on his ‘Trail of Tears.’ You haven’t seen behind their closed doors to know what she’s dealing with. He hasn’t changed. He is hardwired, so she’s going to be dealing with the same thing you did. It’s just a matter of when. Sure she may hide it and act like everything is rosy in the garden. Of course it is, when you live in denial and delusion about the very obvious and visible thorns.
If I were a gambling girl, I’d put my money every time on the consistency of pathology and his inability to ever change in ANY relationship–the previous one, your one or the future ones. She’s not getting the best of anything. She’s you. And in a short time, she’ll be another statistic. If pathology doesn’t change, this relationship is wired for destruction. There are NO happy endings in relationships with pathologicals. There are no pumpkin-drawn carriages, no sweet little house with three children…scratch that record! Stop attributing normal characteristics to a profoundly abnormal person. It is tempting to spend your precious emotional energy on obsessing about the quality of his relationship with the next victim instead of using that energy for their own healing. It is tempting to live in a fantasy world where you are deprived of this wonderful relationship and he is off living the life of a normal person. Believe me – this fantasy does not end with “And they lived happily ever after.” The fantasy thoughts of him being happy with someone is a projection pulling all of your focus, while you totally forget how this horror flick is going to end. Take a deep breath and come back…she hasn’t got anything you haven’t already gotten from him, except misery. If she doesn’t have it right now, she will have it shortly.
Once you really get it about the permanence of pathology you’ll understand that his ability to be different in the relationship doesn’t exist. If he was capable, he would have done the changing. He didn’t and he won’t. Whatever exists right now is that short honeymoon cycle until she realises what he is and isn’t and more importantly, what he can never be. Don’t bother trying to tell her what he is and isn’t, or trying to make someone see. A pathological will take care of this themselves. You may not be around to see it, but it is as certain as the sun setting at the end of the day. Your job is to focus your own recovery. From this moment on, it truly is all about you.