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By September 25, 2012 52 Comments Read More →

Love After The Sociopath

I’m finally beginning to properly ‘get’ the age-old adage that life is a journey not a destination. Let me assure you, my particular journey continues to be filled with the most bizarre ups and downs, and I’m coming to realize that truth really is stranger than fiction – well, in my case at least.

Many peculiar happenings and coincidences have been going on over the past few weeks, most of which I am not currently at liberty to share. When the time is right I will put pen to paper, but until then I’ve decided to fulfill my urge to write by focusing on my own personal experiences around the subject of love after the sociopath.

Being Human

As you’ll know if you read my last post, I am now in a relationship with a wonderfully caring soul who is the polar opposite from my ex-husband. He’s been through his own tragedies, losing his previous partner to breast cancer. He is real, he has feelings, he cares and, most importantly, he is human. That means that like me, he has his failings. It means that his responses are not always perfect. Along with letting me know how much he loves me he also freely shows his confusion, demonstrates his hurts, and tells me when he feels in any way upset.

My own responses though, I am coming to learn, often stem from learned behaviours that I came to know from my time with my so called soulmate. Life with him was so darned perfect that there was never a cross word nor anything that caused me to even consider that our relationship was anything other than a dream come true. That dream, of course, turned out to be a living nightmare – but I didn’t know that at the time.

So when Patrice (my Frenchman who speaks no English) becomes quiet or reserved, I instantly question his motives – wondering whether he, like my ex, is trying to manipulate or control me. Of course when my ex was around, I had no such internal guidance or red flags. I just took everything that he showed me to be true, and I continued to shower him with unconditional love. By the time his mask was slipping, I was so far hooked in to his trap that I believed his strange behaviour must be due to something I was doing wrong. And I responded by showing even more love and understanding, opening my heart and soul even wider to embrace and reassure him, so that he would know without question that I loved him wholly and completely. I thought that was what marriage was all about – my ability to love him through whatever issues or problems he was facing, choosing to show more love in the face of his increasingly irrational put-downs and snide remarks.

Trust Without Naivety

From the beginning, the only thing I have promised Patrice is complete honesty – and that is what he gets. In barrow-loads! I continue to do my best to explain to him why I am no longer that naively trusting soul. To clarify why when there is something that happens to concern or rattle me – no matter how small – I will not brush it under the carpet. Instead I will meet it head on, gently in the most parts, and get to understand what it is all about.

The first few times this happened, I felt myself shutting off to him – and I told him so in no uncertain terms. I guess in hindsight mine was probably a pretty harsh comeback when all he was doing from his point of view was sharing his frustrations. For me, it was also incredibly challenging to really speak up for myself. To ‘go there’ when the circumstances seemed in many ways to be fairly petty. But I did it because I felt there was no point if I kept quiet – where is the honesty in keeping a painted smile?

And I’m pleased that I’ve learned to do this. I’m proud of myself for questioning every tiny misunderstanding, so that together we can understand, learn and lay solid foundations. This is the first time in my life that I’ve felt able to behave in this way with someone who is so close to me. So what has changed?

Courage To Be Real

Well, I think that once again it’s an opportunity for me to feel gratitude for all the unpleasant and sometimes downright ghastly experiences that I’ve encountered over my life so far. When I became an orphan I quickly learned how to fit in, shut up, put up and stay quiet – in short how to become invisible. I learned to ignore my own cries for help, and to push down my feelings of pain and loneliness. In their place I chose instead to focus on understanding and helping others – little realizing that through doing that I was simply pushing my own identity further and further within me, until I didn’t even know who I was. Oh yes, I had a mask of my own. But my mask, unlike that of the sociopath, was one created for survival. One that hurt nobody else but myself.

The mask of the sociopath, on the other hand, is a carefully crafted guise of love and devotion, designed to disable their target so they bend to their every twisted whim and manipulation. Is it any wonder that I fell so completely, hook line and sinker, for his practiced act of adoration and love? Having been starved of such connections for so many years, my ex was like a breath of fresh air. I truly felt that I had come home, and that life would be forever rosy. Looking back I can’t help but have a wry smile, realizing that I must have been a particularly easy target for him. They talk about rose-coloured spectacles… well, mine must have caused me to be blind, deaf and dumb to his scheming ways. I was so wrapped up in the dream of finally finding happiness that I simply couldn’t see what was right under my nose.

It’s only in recent years that people have shared with me their own views on my ex-soulmate. I’ve heard many words to describe the man I thought was handsome, charming, charismatic, and the life and soul of the party. Opinions such as ‘cheesy’ ‘fake’ ‘annoying’ ‘a braggart’ and many more are now being voiced by the people who knew him. When I ask why they didn’t tell me at the time, I receive the perfectly reasonable reply that they didn’t think it was any of their business. That I was quite clearly in love and happy with this person, so they didn’t want to rain on my parade.

I Still Believe In Magic

Hmmmm…. My own worst enemy? Well, perhaps so… but only now with the insights I have learned through my own journey to recovery. Do I blame myself? Far from it! I am deeply proud of what I have survived – and I also believe that it was because of my stubborn belief in magic that I didn’t allow myself to go down when all around me was falling to pieces. Ironically, I now believe that it was those very same characteristics that kept me so blinkered to his ways (including my innocent belief in love and happy ever after) that eventually proved to be my salvation. Through the bleakest days weeks and months following the meltdown, I still held strong to my conviction that everything would work out in the end – even though there were many times when it would have seemed the more sensible option was to just give up and give in.

I remember consistently telling people that if I could feel so in love and so fulfilled with someone who was nothing more than a conman, then when a real man came in to my life, the experience could only be many times better! I confess that for a long time this was more of a mantra than a strongly held conviction – but you know what? It has worked wonders for me.

Because now, in the company of Patrice, I am able to check and double-check on everything that happens between us. I can ask what’s wrong when he seems to be less bouncy than usual. I can speak up for myself if I feel he’s being unreasonable. I can ask what he’s feeling when he seeks reassurances. I can tell him I need space when I feel too squashed. And I can let him know every time he makes me feel like a princess – and that feels great.

So, no, it ain’t always easy being in a ‘real’ relationship after the false perfection that I knew for so long. But goodness knows it’s healthy and it’s honest. And through continued talking, sharing, hugging and learning about each other, I am feeling more settled, safe and loved than ever before in my life.

Does it mean I’m going to become a pushover with him? Heck no! I shall probably keep questioning even the smallest details for however long we stay together. I refuse to say ‘forever’ anymore, because the last time I did that I lost any hope of remembering who I really was. Nope. This time it is day by day, and let me tell you that right now, with each day that passes, this particular relationship is more fulfilling, exciting, rewarding, challenging, and loving than anything I ever experienced with my ex.

As I said at the start of this post, I am finally appreciating the joys of life’s journey. I do not need to focus on a destination, because I will never be ‘there’… I am here. And here is exactly the right place for me right now. However long this particular ‘now’ lasts doesn’t even matter in the grand scale of things. Because whatever happens in the future, I know I am at last able to be true to myself and to those around me.

So in actual fact the real love I’ve found is love for myself – and with that, no-thing and no-one can ever harm me again. As Patrice keeps saying to me “que des bonnes choses maintenant” which means “only good things now” – and you know what? I fully agree.



52 Comments on "Love After The Sociopath"

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  1. Truthspeak says:

    Betsybugs, I have to say that I think your LF name is so cute – it makes me think of ladybugs in pink skirts. Sorry, I digress….

    Am I reading correctly that you are still bound to this man by contract of marriage? If so, I’d like to gently and strongly urge you to consider the questions that Kim Frederick asked and give yourself some honest and truthful answers.

    There IS a “WIN” for targets and victims: survival, recovery, and healing. I posted this on another thread, but I am grateful (NOT happy about it, but grateful) that I had the experiences that I did and that I’m learning so much about myself. I’ve learned that I don’t ever, ever, EVER have to put up with stupidity, cruelty, abuse, or manipulations, ever again, from any man, woman, or child. Not ever.

    And, I’ve lived in spath entanglements for about 30 years, in total. Went from the abusive fire into the simmering doube-life frying pan. This second experience relieved me of everything that I brought into that marriage, and left me financially, emotionally, spiritually, and sexually gutted.

    But, Betsybugs, there really and truly is Life Beyond A**holes, whether they are disordered or just stupid. And, I cannot describe how intoxicating it is to realize that I have the power to CHOOSE, even if I make a “bad” choice, I still have the option to choose what I will, and will not, tolerate.

    We’ve got one shot in this lifetime, and we’re given so many signs on the road that it’s often too much to decipher which direction we should take. But, you can rely upon this one, single truth: the compass of your Life’s Path is firmly in your own hand. Once you know what you are dealing with, it’s then a choice whether or not to use that compass.

    Brightest blessings



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  2. Back_from_the_edge says:

    My ‘experience’ was so ugly,
    I don’t care if I EVER have another MALE
    (or FEMALE) relationship in my life, EVER.
    THAT is how bad it was and I still feel the
    same way.

    I want MY LIFE back.
    I just GOT IT BACK.
    I had to FIGHT to get it back.
    I am NOT just blindly handing it over to
    another “MAN” to do with, what they wish.

    I am determined to be the strong, self centered,
    self sustaining, intelligent woman I KNOW I am.
    I don’t need a man or a woman there in my
    life to make me ‘whole’ – I am already whole
    and have been since I was born.

    I don’t need sex nor someone to hold me at night
    as much as I need a good strong firm realization of MYSELF.
    Sure: it gets lonely but it beats the alternative.

    They can all take a hike.
    I am on a journey to ME for a change.
    That’s some place I haven’t had any time for
    since I was 16 years old. Now that I have been
    ‘put out to pasture’, so to speak, the rest is MINE.

    That includes NOT doing a man’s laundry; dishes nor
    living by their rules. I have MY OWN rules.

    I am ever so THRILLED for people that can ‘make it work’.
    I don’t have the patience, the time nor the inspiration any more.

    How’s that???

    My compass seems to work fine when I rely upon myself
    and don’t trust others with my life and make choices and
    decisions on direction for me.

    I do fine when I trust MYSELF.

    xxoo



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  3. Truthspeak says:

    Dupey, I think that’s what’s so cleanly eroded by spath entanglements: the ability to trust our own Selves.

    I put trust into someone else when I should have learned to trust ME, first. And, I paid the consequences for that error in judgement.

    As far as sex…..LMAOLMAOLMAO!!!!!!!! I often wonder if I will ever be able to separate what I discovered from normal, healthy interactions. Quite frankly, I become uncomfortable even during a loving and gentle scene in a movie – I wonder if I will ever be able to identify with what should be a normal, healthy, and wonderful aspect of a normal, healthy, and wonderful relationship.

    Yepper……maybe, once I get beyond this angry protective space, I can “love” myself better. I’m beginning to “like” myself a bit better. I don’t necessarily “like” the cynic that I’ve become and it’s rather a struggle to STOP looking for the sociopaths under every rock and behind every bush. I have a really difficult time doing that. And, I don’t want to be that type of person, but I see “red flags” that I can’t ignore, anymore.

    This is WAY off-topic, and doesn’t relate to the article, at all, but I’m seeing “red flags” from a young woman where I work and, in a previous life, I would have ignored them and tried to work my way into her good graces so that she would accept me and approve of me – I’m entering into HER domain, so I need to be a peacekeeper to maintain the minor position that I was able to secure. NOT.

    So, I think that the idea of a loving relationship after our experiences isn’t unreasonable IF – and, only IF – we put our personal core issues in their proper perspectives and learn to love and trust ourselves, first.

    Brightest blessings



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  4. Back_from_the_edge says:

    “So, I think that the idea of a loving relationship after our experiences isn’t unreasonable IF – and, only IF – we put our personal core issues in their proper perspectives and learn to love and trust ourselves, first.” ~ Truthspeak

    Well, isn’t that a realization in a nutshell? Hm?
    I have a feeling, that for me, personally, my life shall
    be filled with ‘self realizations’ until the moment I close
    my eyes. ESPECIALLY after this experience.

    There is NO WAY I can EVER trust another ‘man’ around me.
    There is NO WAY I can sleep with someone, not ever again.
    There is NO WAY I will EVER allow ANYONE to ever touch me,
    not ever again. THAT is how horrid it was.

    I find the most ‘loving’ of relationships to be those that allow
    you space to heal. Relationships that understand and are kind
    and considerate. I don’t know if I can ever trust my judgment,
    not ever again. At least not in this lifetime.

    I am not ‘bitter’ nor ‘vengeful’, not even hateful – I am just
    RESIGNED and ACCEPTING and this is what I CHOOSE for
    me and my life. Not ‘because of IT’ but IN SPITE OF IT.

    I think everyone should try to eventually move on and toward
    a loving and fulfilling relationship in their lives. I do. I just
    don’t think it’s for me, anymore.

    Being alone, out of the dungeon, where I have been held for
    so long, by a full fledged psychopath – well, that sort of gives
    you the APPRECIATION for the ‘alone’ and ‘quiet’ moments.
    Know what I mean? Especially with a bad ticker – can’t get
    enough peace and quiet these days.

    I am good with being single and alone.
    Why isn’t everyone else ‘good’ with my choice?
    I am not being ‘anti social’ or anything else….
    WHY DO I HAVE TO HAVE A RELATIONSHIP WITH A MAN?
    OR WOMAN? (As the case may be.) I don’t see where that
    is a ‘requirement’ for LIVING. Know what I mean?

    I am still ‘reveling’ in the joy of having the tyranny OUT of
    my world and my life, once and for all. I just want it gone.
    Never to come back. I want my life back and I have taken
    it back and that makes me a not so popular person, I guess.

    I hold the keys to “IT’s” future in my hands…
    How infuriating that must be.

    Dupey



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  5. Truthspeak says:

    Dupey, I agree 100%. And, when I refer to a relationship with a woman, I mean a generic friendship where I’m concerned. I’m very hesitant to engage in any form of intimacy with any people that haven’t been close friends of mine before the exspath was exposed.

    No, human beings (particularly women) do not “need” someone else to make them “whole,” and I resent fairy tales that blatantly suggest that the “heroine” of the story was born, bred, and raised to be saved and rescued by Prince Charming. Her whole life finally has “meaning” when she’s rescued by Prince Charming, and this is a terrible message.

    Yep – learning that I can rely upon my instincts and decision-making is something that I mssed during my lifetime.

    Brightest blessings



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  6. Back_from_the_edge says:

    Truthspeak: A relationship with a woman.
    My saying that meant that if I were so inclined
    that I would not even entertain a romantic relationship
    with another woman. I am not so inclined but
    I would imagine it would be the same for any
    gay woman in a relationship as well. I have
    been accused of ‘being gay’ because I am so
    dead set against a relationship with a male anymore.
    That is why I said that. I don’t want either one.
    I want no relationship other than with GOD and ME. lol
    I AM REALLY HUGE on ‘family’, though. Them and me kind
    of like come first, without the chaos and drama. Know what
    I mean?

    Generic friendships are very difficult for me.
    I like having NOBODY around me, most of
    the time. I don’t ‘jump’ that way; I don’t have any
    ‘interaction’ problems – just being by myself after
    all of this is very soothing and healing.

    I just want to GROUND MYSELF.
    If I can completely ‘ground’ myself, I will find
    other avenues and ways to fill the void that has
    been left inside of me over all this.

    A lot of ‘habits’ form over the course of a long relationship
    with an ugly spath. Ugly little ‘tics’ and habits that have
    formed through the years, wrestling with what I somehow,
    always knew, was a very sick person. He made me VERY
    sick and he was VERY TOXIC to me as a person. BUT:

    I willingly walked into all this full well knowing what I was dealing with.
    I was determined to not lose my friend to the devil. I lost.
    The devil wins. I have to give up and walk away. Unless I
    would want to stick around and be EATEN ALIVE.

    But: the devil isn’t going to win MY SOUL.
    That’s all there is to it. That is MY CHOICE.

    Intimacy: that is a foreign word to me.
    It has been for a very long time now.
    I still ‘cringe’ whenever someone touches me.
    Even a hug or a handshake can send me into quivers.

    I find myself being afraid to look people in the eyes
    anymore and that was always such a huge flag for me.
    (Can someone look you in the eyes and speak?) I find
    I can’t even look someone in the eyes anymore without
    crying. WHAT IS THAT? I don’t understand it other than
    I am afraid of what I will see in them. So I don’t look
    anymore. I used to look into “IT’s” eyes and think I
    could tell the truth from a lie but I don’t think so anymore.
    I had it proven to me. It can happen so easily.

    I have a lot of things I am working on, all at the same time,
    and still trying to maintain my health and my living.
    Some days it is truly overwhelming.
    I just want to dig a hole in the ground, some where,
    and hide and never come out. It’s safer in my cave.

    YES: learning that we CAN rely upon our instincts
    and our choices in decision making is something we
    absolutely MUST hone within ourselves. The confidence
    of being “WHO” WE ARE. We are just as entitled to feel,
    believe, react, any way we wish. It is up to US to make
    it what it will become.

    The white picket fence, the station wagon, kids in the back
    yard and even the dog and the cat: those are all illusions.

    It IS that ‘fairy tale’ that is fed to us from childhood:
    true success in life means having a loving partner and
    a family and all the toys, bells and whistles. Happiness
    and rainbows abound. Yah, right.

    The ONLY RAINBOWS that truly exist are the ones
    that shine within YOURSELF. The rainbows YOU make
    happen. All the rest are empty anyways.

    There is no Prince Charming.
    There IS a savior and that savior IS OURSELVES.
    There just comes a time, some times, you have to
    SAVE YOURSELF. No rain, no rainbows; hm?

    I believe in the power of change.
    So I completely find ppath/spath refusal to ‘change’
    or to straighten up ANYTHING about themselves: repulsive.

    I just want it all away from me now.
    THAT is a choice and I have NEVER done ANYTHING BETTER
    for MYSELF than I did the day I threw “IT’s” head into a curb.

    PEACE.
    FINALLY.

    Have a great weekend Truthspeak.



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  7. Stargazer says:

    Inner child work is very effective in removing obstacles to giving and receiving love. As mine is younger and younger these days, I enlisted the help of a very good hypnotist who does NLP and regressive work to help me access mine. It was not so difficult because she is not so far from the surface. But the work is extremely powerful. I feel different even after just 3 sessions. I think I am going to continue with 3 more, even though it’s expensive. It’s not easy going back and facing pain from such an early time in life when you’ve been abused and neglected. But our relationships with our parents is really what determines how we relate to others. More specifically, the beliefs and attitudes we picked up from our parents about our deservingness and abilities to love, and our worthiness.

    I am not going to speak for everyone here because people will disagree with me on this, but for me, attracting love into my life in the form of a male-female relationship has been a proactive choice. I have focused in the course of hypnosis on clearing the blocks to this happening. This is happening in two parts: First I’m clearing the blocks, and let me tell you, the work is extremely painful. I had an hour on the phone with a dear friend last night (a very conscious one) who helped me process some of the intense pain from my youth of my parents’ abandonment and neglect. And the work is not done yet. This work will just make me *clear*, ready and available for a healthy relationship.

    The other part is in setting my intention of attracting a partner I can connect with on a higher level, like in the Steve Winwood song, “Bring Me a Higher Love,” which I’ve been hearing all over the place lately. I am setting the intention and then hanging out in places I would meet a great man. Meantime, my salsa friend that I really like is going to be a big part of my life this month, as he is going to be the unofficial photographer for my Zumba/salsa birthday party next weekend. We are also carpooling to a town almost 2 hours away for a salsa spins workshop the weekend after that. And we continue to dance together. The dances are still very magical and I do often feel with him like Cinderella at the ball, which I don’t think is a bad feeling to have – it’s pretty wonderful actually. I have realized that any partner of mine will probably have to be involved in dance. It is such a huge passion in my life that a man who didn’t understand it would probably feel jealous and threatened. So I continue to go out multiple nights a week dancing (salsa), and continuing to set my intention. We’ll see how it all develops. Life is an adventure right now. The dancing is fun in and of itself, but all the better because salsa involves men. And lots of them.

    But the point I was making is that yes it’s wonderful to be alone and on your own. But when you’re *ready* or when you decided you want to make yourself ready for a serious relationship, it helps to really do the work of *attracting* an appropriate mate by setting your intention and by opening yourself up to meeting men (or women). That means going to places where men hang out – the type of men you might have things in common with.

    The whole law of attraction thing is totally working because my neighbor who I crushed on for 2 years has become a steady activity partner in my life. We hang out all the time and have a blast together, though it’s strictly platonic, and we both want to keep it that way.

    In addition, my friend in CA has a son she’s been trying to set me up with since forever. He won the lotto a few years ago and is extremely wealthy. She is trying to arrange a p/t job for me as his personal assistant. Though I’m not money-motivated, gee, it wouldn’t KILL me to meet a multi-millionaire.

    So men are in fact coming into my life. It’s just a matter of time before there will be someone special. I don’t think the salsa guy is ready – I suspect he’s going through a divorce or something like that. But there are so many other men out there.



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