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Recovering from a sociopath: acceptance and focusing on now

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.

Acceptance

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.

Present moment

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.



110 Comments on "Recovering from a sociopath: acceptance and focusing on now"

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  1. OxDrover says:

    Dear Whattodo,

    I suggest that you go put your arms around your daughter and be honest with her…tell her just what you have told me, and reassure her that you are going to break free from this addiction to this man.

    It doesn’t matter if he is using drugs, or not using drugs, HE IS TOXIC TO YOU AND YOUR CHILDREN. I know you love your children, and they deserve that. Do it for them if not for yourself. YOU CAN DO IT. It takes WORK and determination.

    Go to an Al-anon group, or find some other support group besides your counselor, preferably a group that understands addiction, because that is exactly what you have got. I have been there, I was addicted to a man after my husband died and I was so lonely, but I broke free. So can you.

    My biggest addiction is the FICTION that I had to stay “bonded” to my blood family no matter what they did to me or anyone else—or die and go to HELL. Now, I nkow that is not ttrue. MY God, as I understand Him NOW does not expect me to play door mat to abusers or to take vengence on them either, but to take care of andf LOVE MYSELF.

    If you haven[‘t read my article about The Golden Rule–The Silver Rule, please do so. It explains it all, we must demand that others treat us as well as we treat them, we are not told to love ourselves as we love our neighbor, but to love our neighbor as ourselves. If we don’t love ourselves and demand to be treated with respect….we can’t do anything.

    Start loving yourslef, be open and honest (age appropriate honesty) with your kids. You are still their mother and they are not “your support” they deserve you to support them, but you can lift yourself up FOR them. Let them know that right now you are sad but you will be there to protect them. That you are going to be the “new and improved” YOU and the new and improved Mom that can share her feelings safely with her kids and they can share their feelings honestly with you.

    You would be suprised how wonderful it is to do so. I[‘m just learning with my 40 year old son, and he with me. But it is wonderful and our relationship is so much better than ever before (he was married to a P as well and she had distanced him from me and my late husband and his brother D.)

    Keep coming here and reading and reading and READING! You can’t fix him, but you can fix yourself, GROW into the powerful strong woman you want to be. FAKE IT TIL YOU MAKE IT. DO what you know is right even if you dont’ want to. ((((Hugs)))) You are in my prayers.



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  2. one_step_at_a_time says:

    I was at a profssional assoc. meeting last night; went to network as my contract is over soon. i got through about 2/3rds of the night okay, then the desperation of my situation and the isolation and shame i am feeling started to undermine my confidence.

    I came out of there thinking that thing i keep thinking: if they only knew how utterly fucked up my life is……
    I keep feeling that the ug of my life situation means i am ug.

    I go out and network and i think people can smell the shit on me.

    I have exactly 2 skirts i can wear, and one business jacket. my boots are polished, but there are holes in the heals.

    there is such a dicotomy between what i need to present and how i really feel. ‘please hire me, AND i am almost homeless’ OY!

    anyway, this AM i was following up on new contacts made in the last week, and I got an email from one of the folks I met. he said something nice about me – something i stopped believing in in myself in this last while.

    and i realized that there is SO LITTLE nice coming my way right now. there are fights on almost all fronts. and i can’t take it. the compliment – recognizing that there has been so little ‘nice’ and kind, not only SO much struggle, made me cry. no wonder i feel like shit.

    and it is info about what i want and poses another question for me in my ongoing evaluation of the rightness of my outing the spath/ testifying against her.

    big sigh, or rather, stop holding breath and EXHAAAALE. 🙂

    one step



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