Recently, I spoke with yogi and writer Paula Carrasquillo. Paula is the author of Escaping the Boy: My Life with a Sociopath. During our interview and in writing, Paula shared with me about Escaping the Boy and, also, a new book that she is coming out with. Additionally, Paula is soon to be certified as a yoga teacher and through her work is dedicated to making yoga more accessible, especially for women who have struggled in abusive relationships. Finally, we discussed what Paula sees for herself and hopes to achieve in the future.
Paula started writing in college as an undergrad. “I didn’t really write that much,” she said. “I was still really apprehensive. It was a scary idea to really purge myself.”
“I was inspired by author Kate Chopin and her novel, The Awakening,” Paula told me. “This woman finds herself in a place she can’t escape.” Still, Paula never imagined she would want to publish and wasn’t sure people would see the value in what she had to say. “But people are interested,” she realizes today. And although Paula doesn’t put out everything she writes, she has a dedicated group of followers on social media, including her blog paularenee.wordpress.com.
Paula’s writing process for Escaping the Boy began with recording her own story. She was “encouraged by family and people at work” to keep going and share about her reactions to a toxic relationship.
“I was driven to share my reactions and confusion in order to make sense of what made no sense to me. I was suffering from cognitive dissonance without knowing I was suffering from cognitive dissonance. After 12 months of unsuccessful attempts to make sense of my toxic past by talking about it, my only outlet, my last resort, was to write about it, because I didn’t want to continue to burden my family and friends with my ruminations, paranoia and hyper vigilance.”
“Was it this one person or was it me?” At first Paula was unsure because she’s hadn’t experienced a person like this man in her life before. “I stuck it out in the relationship because nothing made sense. I didn’t want to abandon and give up on a person because of a few perceived flaws. In a state of cognitive dissonance, I was unable to analyze these flaws for what they were. His flaws went deep, deep into a pathology and disorder that had the potential to destroy me and my son more if I remained.”
Paula continued to describe more about the boy in her book: “He seemed on the surface to be well-adjusted, but the closer I got to him the more I realized his life was a facade. I grew more and more frightened by him and his rages and his inability to discuss and collaborate. Everything had to be his way or I was considered hateful, unloving and ungrateful. I was made to feel like all of the relationship issues were solely my fault. He took no accountability and would go as far as making claims that I was sick and needed psychiatric help and possibly in-patient treatment.”
Prior to writing her story, Paula conducted research on psychology, narcissists and sociopaths, “as a result of the sociopath claiming I was the one with serious mental defects,” she explained. “Once I started writing, I put down the research so I wasn’t directly influenced as I wrote and recalled instances of abuse and trauma. After I completed the first draft, I read The Sociopath Next Door, by Martha Stout PhD. It was validating and helped me to finalize my novelette’s title and write my introduction with confidence.”
Paula started yoga five months before she started writing her story. “Yoga came first. If it hadn’t been for my yoga practice, I may not have been at a necessary place of self-awareness to write.”
In the last portion of our discussion Paula shared more about her experiences in yoga:
“Yoga helped me gain more self-awareness and an appreciation for all of my feelings and emotions. The sociopath tried to minimize and squash my value. Yoga has taught me that no one, especially ourselves, should be given the power to dismiss us as humans. When we devalue a person’s emotions, we devalue them as a person. I want to help other victims and survivors learn to recognize when they’ve been devalued and to realize that there is an enormous amount of hope for successfully overcoming all of the abuse and trauma just by allowing themselves to feel and not deny what they feel.”