Compassion is such an important trait to possess. It implies a caring for others which includes understanding, awareness and identifying with others. It is the acknowledgement that you “get” them. You clearly understand not only who they are but also their pain and hurt. You are the person who feels what others feel. With your compassion you not only feel what others feel but you are compelled to do something to help them. Your compassion is a word of action because you are a person of action. But it is this action that puts your trait over the top.
This is the point in which your compassion spills over…out of your cup and into the cup of someone whose cup may be empty. For someone who is pathological, your compassion is what they need. They do not have compassion for others so they take yours, using it to manipulate and strengthen their mask. They mask the horror of who they are with the fantasy of who you need them to be.
Herein lies the risk: He is just looking for someone to believe his story, and it is usually a really good one. He needs someone to believe that he is the victim and he is worthy of “compassion” and “help” so you will cooperate. Once you listen to his story, your compassion kicks in and you will do everything you can to help him and join the team. Compassion is the feeling which drives your helpfulness and cooperation. Remember, for you, compassion is an action word.
Herein lies the benefit: Once you realize who and what he is, your compassion shifts. It is hard to have compassion for a thief and a liar. It is hard to have compassion for a con-artist and a manipulator. So, when the day finally comes when you see who he is your compassion shifts. Again, your shift of compassion combined with knowledge and resourcefulness leads you to get out of the relationship. You are no longer willing to participate in his charade, no longer willing to feel his pain. But the most interesting part about real compassion is that it will evolve into compassion for his disorder.
The truth is that he has a disorder which will never go away. He is missing something that others have and he has lived his life compensating for his deficiency. The symptom of his disorder is inevitable harm for those who end up in an intimate relationship with him. His disorder is incurable.
After a while, you will learn that the best way to leave the relationship and begin your healing journey is through compassionate disengagement. You will begin to understand how you would never ask a blind person to see anymore than you would ask a pathological to feel. You will accept the unchanging nature of the condition out of compassion…compassion which understands limitations. Compassionate disengagement means you have chosen to see his disorder, understand his disorder and move toward healing the effects of his disorder by leaving. The action of your compassion has now turned toward your healing.
Take a minute to think about the “feelings” you may still have for him. If compassion is still an overwhelming feeling, then take a minute to focus on what you are resisting. Your continued compassion that pulls you toward him is a sign you are not truly convinced as to who and what he is.
Take a minute to list the reality of your relationship. You can list the experiences you have had that led you to believe he was pathological. List the undeniable behaviors or experiences you have witnessed…and even the things he should have done but did not do. When you compare your list of reality to the behaviors that are typical in pathology, the reality will be undeniable. With the facts comes compassion that his disorder is unchangeable and you can begin to disengage.
The trio of Super Traits – Cooperation, Helpfulness and Compassion – are traits that tell us what you have to offer others…and yourself. These traits represent your ability to give back, to care, to share and to understand. They are not the kind of traits you would want to “go away”. They are not the kind of traits you would want to stifle. These are the traits which have allowed you to understand others and make things happen. They have allowed you and driven you to make things better. They have created in you a light that others feel and are drawn to.
As with all the other traits that overflow in you, the solution is not to put the light out but to turn it into something manageable…and something not so bright that those who have NO light are filled with YOUR light.
(**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 information).