Editor’s note: The following article refers to spiritual concepts. Please read Lovefraud’s statement on Spiritual Recovery.
As I was wondering what to write about for my blog article this week, Southernman429 did me a favor and provided a topic. He posted the following on Dr. Leedom’s most recent article:
I’d like to pose a question to Donna, M.L., and Dr. Leedom…
Is it normal to go on with your life… develop new relationships… have new goals and new ideals… years go by… basically move on from the sociopathic experience… but yet… still feel a emptiness in a part of your heart, or a tugging at your soul… a sort of grieving… maybe partly for them, or about them, but also about yourself… even though in hindsight, you have gained so much because of this experience and have used it as a springboard to a new life with a new mindset…?
Donna, I know that you have since re-married after your sociopath experience… Does that bad relationship ever come up in your thoughts, affect your emotions or thinking… even though you are happily married?… At what point does this “go away”… or does it ever?
My experience with a sociopath
Let me answer the question by providing some background. I met my sociopathic ex-husband, James Montgomery, in July 1996, married him in October 1996, and left him in February 1999. In a short two and a half years, he cost me about $300,000, put me in serious debt, had affairs with six women that I know of, and had a child with one of those women. Ten days after I left him, he married the mother of that child. It was the second time he committed bigamy. I suspect he married her to get health insurance, because he had diabetes and I sure wasn’t going to be carrying him on my insurance any more.
I was divorced in February 2000. The judge awarded me all the money that was taken from me, plus $1 million in punitive damages, plus attorney fees. For the next year I conducted an international asset search for his money so I could get back on my feet financially. I never found it, and in May 2001, I had to bite the bullet and declare bankruptcy.
Those five years were the most emotionally tumultuous of my life. Fear, anger, betrayal, dismay, hopelessness, doubt, rage, numbness—I was wracked by every negative emotion under the sun. My stomach was always knotted. I couldn’t sleep. My face, arms, back and chest were covered with zits. Yet I had to hold myself together to deal with the divorce, get my business going again, keep my few clients happy. Frequently it all became too much and I collapsed into a puddle of tears.
I begged God to help me; I yelled at God for letting my ex get away with his crimes; I prayed to God to take away the pain.
The larger purpose
God didn’t take away the pain—at least not right away. I worked my way through it. Luckily, I had a wonderful therapist, a woman who I refer to as an energy worker. She helped me process the pain and see the spiritual reason for the journey.
I haven’t written this on the Lovefraud Blog (although others have), but I believe there is larger purpose for our encounters with the sociopaths. These traumas are opportunities for deep, profound healing. When our hearts and souls are ripped open by the sociopath, not only are we given a chance to release and forgive the betrayal of the predator, but we are given a chance to release and forgive the buried pain within us that made us susceptible to the sociopath in the first place.
But it requires work. The only way past the pain is through it. We must allow ourselves to feel, in all the gory agony, the traumas of our past that were brought to the surface by the deceit and betrayal of the sociopath.
It is a physical experience. It isn’t pretty. I spent many hours in the privacy of my meditation room, crying, raging, and finally collapsing when a piece of the burden was released.
In time, however, the pain within me dissipated. What replaced it? Love and joy.
Starting new chapters
To directly answer Southernman429’s question, in the past two years, there has only been one set of circumstances that triggered the old pain. It came each time I started a new chapter in the book I’m writing about my experience.
To draw up an outline for each chapter, I’d review my files, with all those massive credit card statements. I’d look at old e-mails, in which I tried to find solutions to my problems. I’d re-read my journal, where I wrote with raw emotion of the moment. Reviewing the materials brought back the knots in my stomach, and the incredulity that I let my ex-husband con me. But as I got going on each chapter, the knots relaxed.
I met my current husband, Terry Kelly, in 2001, about the time I finally decided to give up the financial battle and declare bankruptcy. I told Terry my sorry story on our first date—armed with the information that my ex was a sociopath. On our second date, Terry brought a copy of his tax return to prove that, unlike my ex-husband, he actually had an income.
We’ve been together seven years, and married for three. I have never been so happy. My life is full. There is an aliveness within me that I never experienced before. And it never would have happened if all the walls within me hadn’t been shattered.
The title of my book, by the way, is Cracked Open: How marriage to a sociopath led to spiritual healing.