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The six steps of healing from a psychopath

There is no straight line to healing after an encounter with a psychopath. No clearly defined path that says, step here, go there. For most of us, there are no tools in our lifeboats that will aid us in the process of letting go so that we can move on to live and laugh and love again.

Healing from such an encounter takes energy. It requires a personal commitment to doing what it takes to clear your mind, body and spirit of his or her lies. Healing takes time.

When I first got my life back after the psychopath was arrested I looked at the devastation around me and cried. How could a once vibrant, successful, loving woman have fallen so far from her path? How could she have lost her grace and dignity by loving such a man? I didn’t want to believe that woman was me. I didn’t want to believe my life had crumbled to such disarray. But to heal, I had to accept what was and let go of my disbelief that it couldn’t be true. It was true. I had loved a man who lied. I had fallen into his web and let go of all that I had held true.

Stepping Into Acceptance

That was my first step. Acceptance. Acceptance of my life that day, in that moment. It was in tatters. My home was gone. My life savings evaporated. My belongings disappeared. I had to accept where I was at without falling victim to wishing, ‘if only’. I had to accept that I had done things that hurt my daughters, my family, my friends, myself. I had to accept that in order to keep the appearance of that relationship alive, I too had lied, deceived and manipulated. In giving into him I had to accept that I had given up on me to the point that I no longer existed as a separate individual. I had conspired with him in my destruction. I had to accept I was a victim of abuse.

Acceptance was hard. Facing the truth of what I had done and what I had become hurt. But, to be free of the past I had to face myself and love myself for the wounded, abused woman that I was and acknowledge that I did not have to stay there. I had to accept that only I could create the change in my life that I desired, that it was up to me. If I wanted to move beyond his abuse, move away from that painful place I found myself in, I would need to find my courage and turn up for myself so that I could step into forgiveness.

The Gift of Forgiveness

And that was my second step. Forgiveness. For all that I had done and said and become that hurt me and everyone in my life. For, no matter how blind or stupid or gullible I had been, no matter how unintentional my actions, I had betrayed the sacred trust I entered into when I gave birth to my daughters. In my betrayal of that trust, I had broken my commitment to be a conscious and loving mother that they could count on to be there for them when they needed me.

Truth was, I hadn’t been there for them. In keeping myself locked in that man’s unholy embrace, I had hurt them. They too had suffered through what he had done, who I had become and what had become of me. For all of us to heal, I needed to forgive myself and to ask for their forgiveness and be willing to accept their right to be angry without picking up their anger for them. In forgiveness, I could lovingly let them move through their pain without forcing them to let it go before they were ready. And in giving them that grace, I gave myself the grace to feel my feelings, without having to deny them, denigrate them, or escape them through searching for myself in someone else’s arms.

My Commitment to Myself

Through forgiveness, I found myself taking my third step. Commitment. To myself, to my daughters, to those who love me. Through my commitment to do what was loving and necessary to get what I needed in my life, I made a commitment to turn up for me, without fear, without judgement, without hesitation. I made a commitment that I would honour my journey, no matter how painful, and keep myself safe on the path to healing by not falling back into remorse, self-denigration, self-abasement and guilt. By committing myself to love myself, warts and all, I gave myself the grace and space to move into my fourth loving step.

Embracing Gratitude

Gratitude. Yes, he had hurt me. Betrayed me. But I was alive. I had the chance to heal, the opportunity to begin again. By stepping into an attitude of gratitude I chose to create harmony, not discord, with all my words and actions. To bemoan what he had done, to focus on his misdeeds would have held me pinioned to the pain of his passing through my life. I deserved better. And so, I embraced gratitude and let regret and remorse go. I did not need to get even with him. I did not need revenge. What I needed was to find my peace of mind, to create a life of harmony without him in it. Every night I wrote out my list of gratitudes, I thanked my angels, God, the Divine. I gave thanks for my life, my daughters’ lives, the love that filled my heart and the opportunity to make amends.

Making Amends

Making amends was my fifth step. Making amends does not mean putting straight other people’s lives. It doesn’t mean righting the past. It means, staying true to who I am today. To keeping my commitments, my word, my promises. It means consciously choosing each step of my journey with dignity and grace, treating my world and everyone in it with integrity, being honest and open about my feelings, my life, my journey. Making amends means asking those I have hurt what they need and being committed to do what it takes to give it to them. Making amends means knowing who I am today and being the best me I can be so that I can live my sixth and final step without reservation.

Living with Grace

There is no easy way through the pain of having loved a psychopath. But, no matter the darkness of the path, the rocks and potholes strewn across the way, the fierce winds that blow or stormy seas we navigate, living with grace gives me the courage to face life’s ups and downs without losing my way. Like a sailboat aiming for shore, my journey is not a straight line. I continually correct my course without losing site of my objective. Standing in my ‘I’, staying focused on my journey, I am not pulled from my centre by the winds that blow around me. With grace, I turn up, pay attention, speak my truth and stay unattached to the outcome. With grace, I am free to be all that I am meant to be, confident that my best is good enough.



345 Comments on "The six steps of healing from a psychopath"

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  1. rochelle says:

    I try my best not to hate. Hate is not something I do because I feel it leaves a black mark on your soul. But if someone called me tomorrow and told me my ex was dead, I can’t say I’d be sad. I also cannot forgive. Yes, I know he is a sick person. But his sickness had made him inherently evil in my eyes. He frightens me, although we have no contact. I am looking to get past this.

  2. Ox Drover says:

    Rochelle, I find that getting the BITTERNESS against them out of my heart (a constant work) helps, but it does NOT mean I trust them at all again. Forgiveness does NOT mean restoring trust in my miind, just getting the bitterness out of my own heart so it doesn’t eat ME like a cancer.

    Being bitter against them or hating them to me is like drinking poison and expecting someone else to die.

  3. Echo says:

    I too, have such hate for this man. If I can call him that. I never in my life felt hate for anyone, and often told him that. I’m only 5 days no contact after he devalued and discarded me 3 times! He is a horrid cruel being and I don’t know how to even get to step 2 in this process. The pain is unbearable and I struggle to find meaning in any of this =(

  4. Sick@heart says:

    Have just read the six steps of healing, I am almost at 4 weeks of no contact and still feel the pain of all this betrayal and lies. I know I have a long way to go but having this site to keep me strong is such a blessing. Thank you Donna for allowing us to post and for your replies. Very hard time of the year to feel so alone.

  5. Still-Standng says:

    It has been 7mo. Since I have had contact, he has had numerous girl friends but remarried in Sept. After knowing her for only 3mo. Of course I know this game now and they marry fast as they can so You don’t have time to figure them out. I’m still having problems with my feelings for him, I miss the good parts, feel even more rejected that he has married and treated me as an ATM. Him being my High School Sweetheart and deceiving me after me loosing my husband, is just too much to bear. I’m so confused. I still Love what I thought he was and just can’t seem to move on. I hide my feelings from the kids an friends because they would only bless me out.please pray for my healing to come.

    • cannh says:

      Still-Standing….

      I will certainly pray for your healing. In time, you will learn that much of this healing comes from within. The “person” you were dealing with will not change….it’s you that now needs to work on yourself and know that you truly deserve more that what he could ever offer.

      Times like these are devastating and so difficult to work through…but you can do this. Trust me when I say this as I have worked through a very difficult, sociopathic relationship also. It takes time, but you can move on and become much stronger, much wiser.

      You now need to try and focus on you. Do good things for yourself. Believe me when I say I know how difficult that can be…but in time, you will heal.

      Stay strong my friend….wishing you strength and healing.

      carolann

  6. Stargazer says:

    Wow, I was reading some of the old posts on this thread from 2011. I can’t believe how long I’ve been blogging here. The sociopath entered and exited my life way back in 2008. And yet my path of healing has been jagged and filled with roadblocks dating from before I met him. As I’ve mentioned many times, he was a blip on my radar screen. The entire process of getting over him took about a year. It was a 3-month relationship. Not the same as some of you guys who were married to one for many years or had kids with one. I have not been able to relate to that level of mind control since my childhood. And yet, I do benefit from being here and continuing to share about my life and my difficulties. In reading some of the old posts, I see I used to blog here when I would feel stuck or depressed. I stopped doing that a while ago. And my life seemed to move along two steps forward and one step backward. But sometimes the step backward can feel momentous. I am in a backwards step right now. Feeling very stuck, lack of confidence and lack of self esteem. All of the things I have taken pride in – my massage expertise and my salsa dancing – my confidence has taken a hit in all of these areas.

    I had a great therapist for a while. He is still around if I need him. I dropped him a few months ago. The reasons are complex, and I still don’t completely understand, but I think in some way I was acting out feelings of abandonment. He asked me to send him my feelings on the days I didn’t see him. He actually wanted me to write them in an email and send them to him. I did this a few times. But I would feel so vulnerable doing this. When he didn’t answer right away, or when he would answer with just one or two lines, I felt embarrassed for being so open. I found myself being angry at the therapist for not understanding me. In the end, I just stopped wanting to open up because I didn’t feel like he knew me. What a catch 22! How can someone know you when you don’t open up to them? This is where my problems begin. Of course the fact that I am really too broke to afford therapy is an ongoing contributing factor. But I realize that I just abandon people pretty easily. As silly as it sounds, I abandoned my therapist, even though I’m the one who felt abandoned. I always wondered how a person with deep abandonment issues stays in an artificial relationship like therapy when the therapist goes away if the money stops. How can you trust someone when their helping you is tied up with taking your money? This is often a catch 22 for me with therapy and why it is rarely successful for me in the long-term. I wonder if anyone else has ever had this dilemma?

    The reason I’m needing help and the place I am stuck is in….surprise, surprise….relationships. But really this latest episode of depression is keeping me from moving on in all areas of my life. But I want to talk about relationships with men for anyone who has the patience to read. In the past 6 months I have briefly dated two men who were actually good matches for me in many ways. I managed to scare the first one off because I was scared and said the wrong thing at the wrong time back in the very early phases of attraction. And now I may have scared the latest one off. I really like him. I honestly don’t know how to handle my feelings and how to stop doing the things that push guys away. There is one guy in particular that has gotten under my skin. We knew each other 3 years ago. We dated briefly, but nothing ever came of it, for whatever reason. He came back into my life and expressed sincere interest. We had one date (the first of about 5 dates total over the 3 years) where we finally kissed for the first time. The next time we made out a little. He expressed that he could really fall for me. It was all happening a little fast for me. But before I had the chance to slow it down, he left on two pre-planned trips out of town. One was skiing with his friends, and the other to perform with some musician friends (he’s still there). So it’s been a total of three weeks I have not seen him. We have had no communication except liking each other’s posts on FB. I now have developed some feelings for him, and I feel vulnerable, and also I feel insecure. I don’t want him to be seeing other women and I have no idea what he’s doing. I curse myself for kissing him. Already, the bonding hormone is circulating. This is where it falls apart for me. I don’t know what to do from here. I don’t need any advice. I know you guys are trying to figure out your own lives after a sociopath. But thanks for letting me vent. I am trying to figure this all out – how to be myself and be vulnerable without scaring the guy away. How to express myself in a way that gets what I want. And how to be cool about things and not so desperate. I am going to my dance classes and keeping myself busy. But it really feels like we started something, and suddenly it just stopped. I honestly don’t know what to do. We never had “the talk” so I don’t know where I stand or what he wants from me (if anything any more). So I am continuing to date other guys and trying not to close the door on him. Because eventually, he will come back. And if he calls me for a date, I would like to be able to ask him the things I need to know – like what he wants.

  7. Stargazer says:

    Wow, that was a long rant….Shortly after midnight tonight (when Mercury came out of retrograde), the guy I like actually messaged me from out of state on FB and told me he misses me. He is going to take me on a date on Tuesday. It was such a relief to hear from him. I don’t think he’s a player, and he’s definitely not a sociopath – he’s too rough around the edges. But we are both in our 50′s and both used to our independence. He is actually falling for me. I am going to take things really slow with him. I will let him know I have trouble trusting. This relationship – if it works out – could be very healing for me.

    Mercury is the planet of communication. When it is in retrograde, communication seems to get f*cked up for everyone. It has certainly felt that way for me. Funny, it was just shortly after the day ended, things shifted. Astrology is fascinating and uncannily accurate sometimes.

  8. Kataroux says:

    Hello everyone! Tomorrow will be six months since the discard and I have to say – I still hate him with a passion…LOL Personally, I am the best I have ever been and it is like a weight has been lifted and I can finally breath. I am just getting to the point that I feel beautiful, which is something that I have never felt. I feel alive, which is also something I didn’t realize I didn’t feel. It became such a “part of my life” to take care of the men in my life that I truly forgot who I really was. I still have not spoken to him since September 25, 2013 and still have no intention to. Although I have been told that his pregnant girlfriend left him and he moved owing his landlord a bunch of money. Apparently he is having tough time hiding his true self.

    Me on the other hand is doing wonderful. I started the year with the dream job only to be let go Valentine’s Day due to inability to pay me…Figures, right! But, since then my sister’s father became suddenly ill, went into the hospital for “observation” and was taken off life support this past Sunday and passed away on Wednesday. I have been blessed to have been there for her. Today, I interview for a job and got it. Yay!!! I do not believe all of this would have happened had I not found myself and let my own light shine instead of trying to keep his light glowing.

    I still have moments that I wonder why, but I do know it was for the best. I have learned so much about myself and am so thankful I have friends here that understand the hell this does mentally.

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