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Find meaning in the betrayal

Editor’s note: The following article refers to spiritual concepts. Please read Lovefraud’s statement on Spiritual Recovery.

Lovefraud recently received the following e-mail from a reader who posts as “lostgirl.”

I fell hopelessly in love with (read as I would have given him my real heart and died for him) a sociopath/psychopath.

Skip the details.

I am four years divorced.

There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t grieve the loss of the relationship I thought I had. I cognitively know that the person I married was not who I thought he was and I even believe I know how he came to be. Unfortunately, I have never felt anger, only sadness for what I viewed as the person he could have been that was taken from him long ago. I see him as an addict and myself as having been addicted to him.

Somehow, now, I still cannot move on. I have been through many short relationships, all ended well for me and usually I ended the relationship when I noticed red flags, the ones I kept close at heart. Again, I am in a new relationship and experiencing all the anxiety all over again (each new relationship triggers this). Including nightmares of the ex-sociopath and agonizing over how to know when someone is genuine. Good words are empty and promises of future fall on my deaf ears because I was disheartened so gravely before.

I have become cold and detached. I feel less emotion for every single thing in my life than at any time ever. All things I own, animals, family, I feel as though I am in a stage of suspended life, I cannot bond. I take care of my animals, I take care of my parents, nothing I own feels as if it’s mine, only borrowed, including relationships. I feel fake and alone.

I truly liked the person I met that I am in a relationship with now, but as with all the others after a short time (three months), I begin to feel less and look critically at their words and life as if I am subconsciously talking myself out of taking the risk of succeeding because of the pool of “thought I had’s” that live inside my head.

I know that a good relationship takes time to grow. How can I give myself the time to grow a relationship when I am so busy still flashing back to a relationship that was agony? He compliments me and I toss it aside. He talks about his life and experiences and I’m trying to assemble timeframes in my head to make sure he isn’t lying to me. It’s as if I’m trying to analyze my way in to a sincere relationship by slicing and dicing all the input/information I’m given. In the meantime I’ve dehumanized the relationship in my head and nearly severed any chance at bonding.

I have read post after post from people and articles all over the internet. What I haven’t found is any truly helpful advice for someone like me.

I fear I have lost the ability to connect permanently because I cannot logically define what is not deceitful at the moment it occurs. What is unselfish, I look for selfishness in. All good is lost because I have become obsessed with what is wrong with what is right.

How do I get back to identifying reality and trusting when it is proper? I feel that my mind was raped and I have lost the ability to connect on any level with anyone. I feel like a shell and I can see through everyone in my life, it would be so easy to be just like him (the ex) but I am not driven to “want” like he did. I see the holes in people and it is so easy for me to identify what is exploitable.

I hate this person I’ve become. I want to climb out of the shell and return to who I was before I fell in “love.”

Help I’m lost.

 

Realm of Numb

A very wise spiritual counselor once said that unresolved anger becomes rage, and unresolved rage becomes numbness. I think that’s what has happened to Lostgirl—she has moved into the Realm of Numb.

She was so in love with the sociopath that she would have died for him. In effect, that is what she did. Her life spark is gone. She no longer finds joy in her family and animals. She looks for deception in new relationships. She no longer trusts herself to know when she can trust another human being.

The Realm of Numb isn’t a place of pain. It’s a place of emptiness, of nothingness, of void. And it’s a place where none of us should be.

But how do we escape? How do we leave behind the feeling of fakeness, and recover the feeling of authenticity?

Search for meaning

One of the books that Lovefraud recommends to everyone who has experienced the trauma of a sociopath is The Betrayal Bond, by Patrick J. Carnes, Ph.D.  The book explains the circumstances that can cause us to form traumatic bonds with an abuser, and provides exercises to help readers unravel those bonds.

When I read the book, I highlighted only one sentence that Carnes wrote, and this is it:

My experience with survivors of trauma is that every journey of recovery depends on the survivor coming to a point where all that person has gone through means something.

This is the key. This is how we truly recover. There is always meaning in what has happened to us, although it can be difficult to find. In fact, that’s what makes the destructive relationships with sociopaths so excruciatingly painful—we can’t figure out why they happened. We did nothing to deserve the betrayal. Our intentions were honorable. So why did this happen to us?

Answers in the past

For many of us, the answer lies in our past. If we’ve experienced an abusive relationship, and were not able to recover, we are primed for another abusive relationship. The problem is even more insidious if we were abused as children, because our whole idea of what is “normal” in a relationship is terribly skewed.

But issues of the past need not be as overtly damaging as abuse. Perhaps our childhoods were basically okay, but we’ve always felt somewhat insignificant, or undeserving of love. We may have had “good enough” parenting, but our parents focused on achievement, and we grew up believing that we were loved for what we could do, not for who we are.  Beliefs like these, even when they’re unconscious, can create vulnerabilities for sociopaths to exploit.

It’s also possible that there is a deep spiritual reason for becoming involved with a sociopath. This is what happened to me. I believe that we all come into this life with lessons to learn, and sometimes the lessons are painful. I discuss this more thoroughly in another blog article, Why did this happen to me?

Some people may not be comfortable with the idea of searching for the meaning of the entanglement with a sociopath. It may feel easier to think we were just in the wrong place at the wrong time, and ran into the wrong person. We just want to brush the encounter aside.

I think this attitude is only a band-aid, and sooner or later, if we don’t find the root cause, we’ll repeat experience. There is meaning, and discovering it leads to healing.

Research, therapy, introspection

So how do we do this? How do we find meaning in what may appear to be a random victimization?

Here’s an important point: True healing doesn’t just happen by itself. True healing requires personal effort.

The first step is to be willing to look for the meaning. Sometimes this, in itself, is difficult. We may be afraid of the painful memories. We may have tried to shove the experience into the past. We may be afraid that if we start crying, we’ll never stop. By being willing, we face these fears, and we may discover, to our surprise, that we can overcome them.

The actual process of finding meaning will probably involve some combination of research, therapy and introspection.

Research: This means educating ourselves not only about the sociopathic disorder, but also about the characteristics and attitudes of a whole, healthy person. We need to understand what we’ve been through, and what we want to become.

Therapy: By therapy, I mean seeking support from other human beings. This could mean working with a therapist or counselor. Or, it may simply be seeking the advice of an understanding, trusted friend, or other members of Lovefraud.

Introspection: Somewhere, deep within us, we know the answers. If we can quiet our minds, with meditation or just sitting in stillness, information will bubble up into our awareness. We may become aware of the mistaken, limiting beliefs that we didn’t know we had. We may receive intuitive guidance about what we should do. If we allow ourselves to seek the truth within, we will find it.

Emotional experience

We cannot expect the process of finding meaning to be simply an intellectual exercise. The bottom line is, we are in pain, pain that may be so entrenched that it has become numbness.

Pain is emotional. The release of pain is also emotional. Therefore, the search for meaning is an emotional experience. The meaning may be buried under anger, hatred, disappointment and fear, and we need to plow through all those emotions in order to find it. And this isn’t a one-time event. We may release anger, only to find more rise up to take its place. This may happen again, and again, and again. The truth is, we are all walking around in pools of pain, and draining the pools takes time.

The expression of these emotions is not pretty, and many people may not have the strength to be with us as we do it. I found that I could only do it with my therapist, or alone. So I sat in my spare room, which I call the meditation room, crying, pounding pillows in rage, and recording my rants in my journal.

But once we release the emotions, they’re gone, leaving room within us to fill with other emotions—like hope, love and joy.

To Lostgirl

Lostgirl, here is what I want you to know: You were betrayed by a sociopath. This is an experience that happened to you. It is not who you are. You are you; the experience is the experience. Do not confuse the two.

There is a meaning for the experience, and it will help you to discover it. This will require effort and commitment on your part. Take the steps. Make a commitment to yourself, to your own growth and happiness. What better commitment could you make?

Find the meaning. But don’t go on a self-help expedition to the exclusion of all else. Here’s a secret: When you focus on any joy in your life, no matter how small, and feel gratitude for the joy, you create an internal energy that attracts more joy.

Healing our hearts is always the answer. To heal, unearth the pain, and replace it with joy. The process may take time, but eventually the life spark will return, brighter than it ever was.



330 Comments on "Find meaning in the betrayal"

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  1. tobehappy says:

    Sorry for the double…I hit the button by accident! 🙂



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  2. bluemosaic says:

    I am gald I found this post, I have felt like I may not heal, like “lost girl”, I have felt myself numbing. I have felt deep convictions to just shut down, never allow another relationship, and stick my pain away, facing it is so shattering. Why face it? I feel like my pain will kill me~ But I know that it is the pain not faced, that kills us inside.
    Thanks Donna for these words,

    “…to heal, unearth the pain, replace it with joy…”

    I once knew joy. I knew pain well too, before I knew joy. But my joy was not built on bedrock, it laid on soft ground…like a qiucksand that “he” pulled me down into.
    I do want to heal, why let him be the last experience I have of being close to another human being? If I do not heal, he will have succeded in taking from me the possibility of ever having joy of any form… just as a matter of who I am and how I live and that will be the ultimate loss…to throw away my life since I was used as a toy by a predator.
    If I choose to go numb, and not try to heal, then I will have let the darkness in his heart and soul drain me permenently…and therefore everyone I touch, for the rest of my life. Darkness wins if I go numb. Waking up today, I want joy back, someday.

    Bluemosaic



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  3. Bluemosaic – You are right that going numb means that he has permanently won. The alternative to numbness is allowing yourself to feel.

    Because of what he did, what you feel at the moment is pain. There is a saying – “The only way out of the pain is through it.”

    The betrayal of a sociopath leaves us with a deep internal well of pain, disappointment and sadness. Recovery means draining the well. The only way to do this is to allow yourself to feel the pain, disappointment and sadness. It’s good to cry. It’s good to hit a punching bag to get out your anger.

    What will happen is that you’ll release some pain, you’ll feel ok for awhile, then more pain will rise to the surface of the well, needing to be drained.

    It’s a process. It will take as long as it takes. But to make it less overwhelming, you may want to set time limits on how long you will allow yourself to cry. Maybe you cry for a half-hour, then you force yourself to stop.

    This is where the joy comes in. After you make yourself stop crying, you then make yourself do something that makes you happy. Maybe taking a walk, listening to music, petting your cat. Anything.

    The idea is to go through the process, without letting it overwhelm you. As you go along, you’ll get better and better. And then, one day, you’ll realize that you’ve shifted internally, and you’re feeling happy more often than sad.



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  4. behind_blue_eyes says:

    I believe that the combination of mirroring, trauma bonding and betrayal makes getting over a sociopathic relationship particularly difficult.

    I very much relate to “lostgirl” even though my relationship with the x-spath was very short. I too have had many short relationships in the 4 years since then, but none seemed the same. I regret that in at least three cases, I very much hurt the feelings of the other person, and in one instance, the other person’s relationship with me was on the surface very similar to mine with the x-spath, except that I was genuine.

    Start with the mirroring. Here, using cues from us, the sociopath constructs a mask that matches our idea of a “soulmate” — I can remember several instances where he even mirrored back my very own words in response to something I said. Since only sociopaths use this tactic, unless we are fortunate to meet somebody who really is a “soulmate,” nobody seems right.

    The trauma bonding occurs when we become victims of their maltreatment followed by the inevitable charm to keep us hooked until they no longer need us.

    We are betrayed when we learn the truth, which leads to 1000 questions that only the x-spath can answer, but never will, at least honestly. We are good and respond to the *APPEARANCE* of good in them and want to fix them. Since the betrayal often shatters our lives, we are left with too much time to think.

    What is the meaning? First, we learn that we are good and that evil people actually exist. We can help others. And we can hope that being good person will one day have its rewards.

    For me as a gay person, my experience with the x-spath made me more conscious of something very important: HIV.

    For those who are new here, my x-spath dumped me two days after my being hospitalized for Shingles. But Shingles was not my real concern, as various other symptoms had the doctors very concerned that I was HIV+. Since there was no rapid test then, I could not get any fast results.

    When the x-spath asked me about the prognosis, I was honest and told him everything. I was embarrassed and apologetic, but he seemed to take it all well. All he said was that he agreed with the doctors. He did not say anything else and took me to the Pharmacy, for lunch and stayed with me until it was time for his flight back to London.

    Then he dumps me, by email, while I am bed-ridden with Shingles and fearing that I might be HIV+. Due to his mask of “British reservedness” I blamed myself but missed what should have been obvious.

    He was HIV+ and did not tell me.

    That may be my best lesson. There are many dysfunctional gay men and research I did showed that anywhere for 33% to 50% of HIV+ gay men with engage in sex without disclosing their HIV status.

    In two instances since the x-spath, I met people whose “MO” reminded me of the x-spath. Interestingly, one was flight attendant of very similar look, age and initial charm of the x-spath.

    We he pressed me for sex, I point out asked him if he was HIV+. At least this flight attendant was honest…



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    • Gaia says:

      ‘I can remember several instances where he even mirrored back my very own words in response to something I said. Since only sociopaths use this tactic’

      Wow, when I began the untanglement with my father and let him go, he panicked and began to use the exact words I had used in a text, to text me back. He even said that drawings and visualisations I had done / had during therapy were exactly the same as he had always had and he was hell bent on saying that his new girlfriend and I were exactly the same. Creeeeeeeeeepy. Thanks for drawing my attention to this ‘mirroring’ aspect. Keep well, love & light G



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    • dorothy2 says:

      “Start with the mirroring. Here, using cues from us, the sociopath constructs a mask that matches our idea of a “soulmate” — I can remember several instances where he even mirrored back my very own words in response to something I said. ”
      Me to…..over and over I see it now…..my words said to me by him but mine didn’t exactly mean the same thing he was saying with them.
      Me too……I got shingles when I was with him……HUGE stress indicator. I was also constipated and gained like 10 pounds, couldn’t sleep……… Red flags but it was too late, the hook was set in my lip.



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