Editor’s note: This article was submitted by a Lovefraud reader.
It has been about a year since my story was posted on Lovefraud, Not one thing about him was real. It has been two years since I broke off the short relationship with this disordered man. It is a year and a half since he stalked me. I hope to share at least some practical points that have helped me in the healing process. It does get better. And it is a process.
I wish I could say that others may be helped PRIOR to involvement with a sociopath, but as we all know, sometimes the inevitable entanglement occurs before we even realize we have been manipulated. This entanglement would have ended much earlier if I had had clear boundaries, zero tolerance for lies and bad behavior, and the will to walk away alone and create my own closure.
There are many events and bizarre experiences with him, his family, his indiscretions, the pathological lies. I now realize that the ONLY purpose to ANYTHING he did was to make himself look good, please himself, hide the truth, devalue others for his own perceived greatness, impress people and get off on his lies and deceptions. He loves that he manipulates people to admire him as the hero, and to come to his defense as the broken victim that he plays so well. He doesn’t want you to realize he IS the stereotypical villain. He was just good at imitating the qualities that are truly admirable like modesty, bravery and dependability. Telling people he was a Navy SEAL hero, working for the NSA, CIA, using aliases, killing terrorists, giving away fake medals, telling stories of being tortured. It’s always about him. And what he calls LOVE is more like an OBSESSION.
He surrounds himself with people who are weak, easily manipulated and vulnerable. They WILL turn their heads to the truth. He wants them to need him. It’s tantamount for HIS very survival. Smart people will question him. Weak people will live the lie, sometimes because they need something from him and sometimes because they are just too weak to admit they have been conned. It’s tantamount for THEIR survival. I know because I was there for a short time. It’s a vicious circle and a world of denial that feeds his sociopathic hunger. In reality, he needs his victims more. He is only as good as the reflection he sees in the eyes of the victim. When I questioned his veracity, I was disloyal. But I was right. I asked good questions (eventually) and he could not keep up the rotting facade of his fabricated life.
Back to basics
I had to get back to basics in order to trust others, myself, my instincts, my intuition, my belief system, religion and all the rules I used to live by. I had to respect myself, gain back my self-esteem and learn to be tolerant but ONLY of those who do not violate my beliefs and boundaries. I also had to learn to stop accepting bad behavior much earlier and stop the self defeating behavior I recognized in myself.
I made lists of those “boundaries” and used them along with real life examples of behaviors that were no longer tolerable. The will to keep those boundaries safe came from the anger I felt after revisiting conversations and events and learning all of the lies. It was painful. I needed to forgive myself, not him, and I decided I would never allow that behavior again EVER.
I was mind raped. No doubt. I lost an innocence, not unlike being a rape victim. The abuse and exploitation is so ambient at times that you don’t even realize what has happened. It is ridden with intermittent generosity and professions of love while your thoughts, actions and behaviors are so closely controlled through undermining manipulation, guilt and shame. You are in a whirlpool of words and actions that are so inconsistent. And manipulation that has you believing you are wrong, and that everything you learned to date is wrong and that what you are witnessing must be real, while all you know to be right and good has defied you. My intelligence and good rationale failed me. Still I wanted to believe and have hope and faith.
I made lists
It was therapeutic for me to make lists:
- Things he took from me.
- Things I gave up to him.
- Lies he told.
- Red flags I ignored.
- Names he called me.
- Things he did and said to violate me and my children and friends and all the things he did (behaviors) which were inconsistent with the things he said.
I was too manipulated for far too long. NO MORE. Finally I understood that there was nothing of substance there in him to begin with. I thought he had more to offer me than I had to offer myself. But it was I who had what he wants and needs desperately. Perhaps he saw an innocence, a vulnerability, a naïveté about me and he knew I could be conned.
As much as I read and studied narcissism, sociopathy, and any number of disorders, I still could not comprehend why he lied and cheated as he did and why I allowed him to keep coming back for more. Someone told me that normal, healthy people cannot make sense of irrational, impulsive and sometimes delusional behavior because we simply rationalize. People who are disordered and impulsive just do what they do because they can and it benefits themselves in some way. It truly is that simple.
There are things I have learned to practice that have allowed me to find closure, take my power back, regain my confidence, which hopefully will keep me from EVER making this mistake again. I don’t need someone else to provide closure to a bad relationship or situation I never did. It was in me all along.
Creating Boundaries: These are mine:
- HONESTY … I ignored my instincts and the facts even when I caught him in lies.
- INTEGRITY … He was not and never will be a man of his word.
- FIDELITY/LOYALTY … The best indicator of future behavior is past behavior. (He cheated constantly on his previous wife, on me and on his current wife. I have been told she is wearing the same engagement ring I wore.)
- RESPECT … (The verbal abuse, the cheating, the lying, the inability to do as he says are ALL encompassing of issues of respect). The bad behavior, spitefulness, drug abuse and allowing all of the above with his adult daughters.
I learned all over again to verbalize my rule of zero tolerance. I didn’t always speak up in the presence of the sociopath because he HAD to be in control and raged or had a tantrum for days.
The closure I seek these days, which I learned as a practice from my therapist, is that when someone is disrespectful, lies or doesn’t treat me well, that I need to close it off with direct communication about what I think and feel and to NOT let them back in again. When I do, I feel like I am in control of my life, my beliefs, and displaying respect for myself (and in an appropriate way). I have truly taken my power back. It is important for me to say, “Don’t contact me again. You are behaving inappropriately. I am not interested in you any longer. I don’t like what you just said to me.” IT IS ok to protect yourself first. I explain this at the risk of sounding juvenile or patronizing but I truly had to relearn these practices, which came so naturally to me previous to the sociopath.
Recognizing my value
All of our lives are eventually a result of the decisions we make. This is particularly true of the sociopath. In fact, I prefer to believe that his life is like a constant panic of desperation to gain what others have, what he needs to see in our reflection to fill the emptiness of his disturbed soul. He can’t fulfill his own fantasies fast enough and so he scrambles daily to find victims to manipulate in order to feel superior.
Recently, this man’s family and new friends found the truth about him on an internet site where he has been exposed as a military impostor and con man. He has known of the exposure for two years after an investigation. He chose not to respond then. He has dishonored those who served and gave of their lives. Other women/people have now come forward and also identified him and his stories. Justice comes in strange ways sometimes. He counted on all of his victims to cower to his intimidations but HE is the coward. Those who continue to live the lie are the cowards. Yet he still has potential to be prosecuted for his crimes. HE IS EXPOSED. I prefer to be on this end simply observing the drama that he is creating with his new followers and family, with no involvement.
At some point I saw more value in what the sociopath had to offer me than in what I had in myself. And I was willing to give myself up to be what he wanted, demanded, expected. The abuse I suffered as a target of a sociopath has taken a toll. To recover, I first had to clear the fog, find myself, and understand my value and importance.
There is a kind of confidence that is exuded when we know who we are and what we want and don’t deviate too much from that. People see it in us and respect it as well. The road is long and this experience with this dysfunctional man will stay with me for a long time. I found myself through recognizing my value and making sure it is respected and appreciated, if not by someone else, by ME. After all, I am the one who has to face me every day.