Lovefraud has heard from a woman who we’ll call “Sally.” Sally is dealing with a sociopathic man who threatened to kill her, sabotage her daughter’s career and injure other family members. She says law enforcement either doesn’t believe her or doesn’t care.
Sally has been in touch with another of the sociopath’s victims, and they’ve helped each other through the nightmare. Still, people in regular support groups don’t believe them, and friends and family members have backed away. A lawyer and a therapist have backed away.
Sally recently sent Lovefraud the following e-mail:
You just can’t imagine this, because I can’t either. The person that was me is gone … and no one has taken her place.
I know who I was with all my faults and history … I was comfortable there. I guess this is a journey … but to where I don’t know. There is no light.
For 62 years I was me and now I am gone. What will I be? Will I be able to live with who I end up being?
I’m sitting in my living room and I am crying and I don’t know why. For the loss of hope? For fear? Fear of the future … for breast cancer … for the loss of my two best friends? For being stupid? For losing my children? And I am responsible for these losses.
I am dull, I am inert. I fill my head with senseless TV – I don’t know what I’m watching.
I want to dance and sing and laugh. I want to ride bareback thru the fields and listen to the silence.
But I will do none of those things. They’re only dreams. I am too tired. They are too far away from my new reality. Reality is my home, my prison, the awake hours. My routine – sleep as long as I can – take pills to help me not to have panic attacks – sometimes I eat. Day is night, and night is day … there’s no difference anymore.
I am smothered in sadness – and I am so angry, at myself.
I used to accomplish so much in a day and now it can all wait for another day.
I remember the hopelessness. I remember feeling that I had nothing to hold on to, that everything I knew was gone. I had no plans for the future, no idea of what was to become of me.
And I remember coming to terms with it.
How can you possibly come to terms with the devastation wrought by a sociopath? My healing involved two related and intertwined adjustments in my thinking.
The first adjustment was that I had to accept what happened.
Everything I was told by my sociopathic ex-husband was a lie. I had been deceived, swindled and betrayed. He had convinced me to spend all of my money, and go into debt, to support his grandiose plans. I’d neglected my own business to participate in his schemes. I’d won a judgment against my ex in court, but it was useless. I’d spent money I didn’t have on collection agencies and lawyers, and came up empty. I would not get any satisfaction from my ex.
I was broke and had no prospects for stable income. I did not know how I would survive, and I couldn’t argue with my circumstances any longer. The day finally came when I had to accept that, for the time being, this was my life.
The second adjustment in my thinking was to focus on the present moment.
We all spend a lot of time reliving the past and projecting into the future. We ruminate over everything that happened with the sociopath. We worry about what will happen to our jobs, our kids, our homes.
Although this is legitimate, the only place where we truly live is right now, in the present moment. We can only take action now. So much like recovering from an addiction, we have to take our lives one day at a time.
It’s not easy. We want to know that we’ll be okay. We want to know how everything will work out. But I learned that if we give up our expectations of what ought to be, life can bring us wonderful solutions that we didn’t even think of.
This is one of the big themes in my book, Love Fraud—How My Marriage to a Sociopath Fulfilled My Spiritual Plan, which will be published in the spring.
Suggestions for Sally
So what should Sally do? From her letter, it sounds like she is suffering from depression. This is no surprise. We all know that the devastation wrought by sociopaths, and the callous response of the legal and financial systems, can leave us depressed.
Maybe Sally is strong enough to cope with the depression on her own. But if she feels like she needs assistance, that’s one step that she can take right now, today—seeking treatment for depression.
It would be a step towards her healing. For Sally to continue to move forward, I lovingly suggest the approach that I outline here—accepting what has happened, and focusing on one day at a time.
It’s not easy. Accepting what has happened leads us to grief over what we have lost. The grief needs to be processed, and it’s not fun. Actually, that may be where Sally is right now. There’s no way to avoid the pain; we have no choice but to move through it. But it does come to an end.
The process is much more manageable if we only deal with this day, or perhaps this hour. For Sally to try to sort out the rest of her life right now would be impossible, and probably counterproductive.
Sally has dreams. She wants to sing and dance and ride bareback through the fields, listening to the silence. Sally should hold on to her dreams, even though, at this point, she does not know how they will be realized.
Right now she’s moving through the rough patch. But each day moves her one day closer to the possible fulfillment of her dreams. All she has to do is hold on, and gradually, her ability to accomplish will return.
Who will she be? An even better version of who she was.