So you’ve busted this person in your life–you’ve put “two and two” together; you’ve researched with tireless diligence the traits of narcissism, psychopathy, sociopathy, the “cluster B” personalities, and voila!–now you know you’ve been dealing with a seriously disturbing liar, manipulator, chronic abuser and exploiter–surely a narcissistic, psychopathic or borderline personality, or combination of these personalities that explain this individual’s shocking behaviors.
Now you know, right? You’ve done your research, right? Yet, let’s be honest, your research continues in various forms, for you keep digging, don’t you? But now it’s time to ask, why?? After all, you’ve done your investigations, you’ve drawn your conclusions, and you’re confident in what you’ve concluded, correct? You know what you know, right?
In fact, you really “have” done your homework, you really “have” come to the right conclusion, you really “have” busted this individual as possessing an immutably destructive personality (and personality disorder(s)). And so (and I cannot stress this enough, for it motivates the writing of this piece)—now is the time to “cease” your investigations…to “call it quits!”
You’ve solved the mystery! The investigation is over, yet you won’t end it? Instead, one way or another, you continue rationalizing the pursuit of a case you’ve already solved?
And so now you face a new, perhaps even more difficult challenge– to trust your conclusions, and detach from the investigatory process. This is quite scary because, if you do, now you are beginning a “true detachment” from the exploitive individual you’ve busted as having been just monstrously terrible for you. And that “true detachment,” which is necessary to really begin to “move on,” is real hard to do.
Yet you must do this, if you really want to heal? For your healing won’t advance with your interminable investigations! Your interminable investigations, meaning “investigations” in any form that persist after the solving of the case (and you’ve solved the case!)–they obstruct and delay your healing. What they amount to now—now, that you’ve already solved the case–is an exercise in obsessionality and fixation with an individual from whom you consciously want to “move on,” but subconsciously won’t.
But yes, it’s time to “move on.” It is. You’re afraid to, but it’s time to. Yet you’ve convinced yourself–being very self-convincing–that your ongoing investigations into this individual’s personality, his or her history, your history with him or her; that all the detailed, retroactive “puzzle fitting” that was all fantastic, necessary work then, but no longer is because it’s work you’ve finished and it’s yielded what you needed to know–you’ve convinced yourself, and now are rationalizing, that this remains necessary work to continue, as if it advances something important when all it’s really advancing and enabling now is your continuing attachment to this individual in the form of your determination to uncover yet more evidence, more confirmation, more damningly conclusive proof that he or she is (or was) what you already know him or her, conclusively, to be.
When we’ve been victimized by someone traumatically, it activates within us a sometimes furious, insatiable, desperate need to “never let go” of our pursuit of proof of the victimizer’s culpability as a reprehensible, incorrigible human being. This need often persists vehemently, insistently, long after we’ve already established that proof.
Sometimes it is self-fueled by our holding onto nagging, persistent, obsessive self-doubt–“Is it possible that I’m wrong? Even though I know I’m not, what if I am? Hmmm….maybe if I can find just another…yet one more…just one more…implicating piece of evidence…then I will have no doubts…no residue of doubt! That’s all I’m looking for…just to nail him or her on this last thing!!” But it never ends, that lust for yet one more extra satisfying, extra reassuring, extra implicating thing!
But this is highly complicated because that “residual self-doubt” is something itself to which we cling tenaciously, as it enables us to “hang on” to the victimizer. whom we really refuse, on some level, to “cast off” as the abusive, exploitive individual we know him or her, indisputably, to be. Thus, it can be self-serving (and always deeply self-undermining) to cling to our “self-doubt” which becomes, in time, less “real” than a “self- contrivance” enabling the rationalization of our endless efforts to build an ever-stronger, more “air-tight” case to “renounce” this individual forever.
This article is copyrighted © 2015 by Steve Becker, LCSW, CH.T