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What feels like pain is really progress

Lovefraud recently received the following letter from a reader whom we’ll call “Cassandra.” My reply follows the letter.

I don’t even know where to begin but I’ll try and make it short. Won’t be sweet though.

I am a long time advocate of Lovefraud. I was a victim of a psychopath over 7 years ago. I was with him for 5 years, we had a house together, dogs, like a married couple. Finally a girl confronted me and told me he was living a double life, as well as having sex with both men and women. And I was not shocked. Just angry at myself for not facing the truth for so long. I ended the relationship. He tried to get me back. I got a restraining order. To this day he still tries to email and call me every few months. I’ve accepted that I will have to deal with that for the rest of my life.

Fast forward to now. It has been 3 years since I have even considered dating, or even touching a man. I am a brilliant career woman. I am successful, make decent money … and live totally alone. I am scared of men, afraid to date, but am getting tired of not having any male companionship. So, for the first time in 3 years since I was with the psychopath, I went out on a date. First time.

It was an incredible date. Gorgeous guy, even though he looked like a computer nerd. Glasses, Jewish, intellectual, shy, artistic and unfortunately the kind of man I crave. Incredible connection, incredible sex, and I was the one in fact telling him that we needed to take this slower. Except … he knew exactly what to do. Constant texts, wanting to see me immediately the next day, insisting that he wanted a relationship with me and then changing his tune an hour later saying he wasn’t sure, etc.

At first, I was disgusted and knew I didn’t need any of this crap. I called him on the bluff and told him let’s just back off. 24 hours later, I was the one wondering what he was doing and where he was. He would say “I’m going to see you this afternoon,” and then he wouldn’t show. I would get a text at 10 pm saying his brother was in the hospital and perhaps I am available “tomorrow?” I would fret and stress, wondering if my own paranoia was keeping me trusting this individual, and that this certainly couldn’t happen to me two times in a row that I would date a psychopath. So I gave him the benefit of the doubt and said sure. The next day he did not show. He texted again saying something came up but he’d love to see me that night. With false hope, I agreed but didn’t bet on it.

That night, I was more anxious and worried than ever before. I sat there on my couch, the house all cleaned, the fire going, a perfect romantic atmosphere. I sat there, and 9 pm came and went. I called and texted “Are you on your way?” No response. At 10 pm I turned off the music, the lights, and found myself just staring at the fireplace. I was in what I call a shock of realization.

I turned off the lights, went to bed, lay there until 2 am. At some point I just broke and cried.

Donna, I wasn’t even looking for this. I was not even looking for someone to suddenly “love” me. I just wanted to meet someone who would appreciate who I was on the inside, without being impressed by my career. I just wanted a night — just one night — of being with a man and having good conversation, good talk, and affection. And that one person that I reached out to after years and years of not dating due to being with a psychopath … turned out to be another one.

I woke up this morning with my eyes hurting from crying and just drained, as if I have been up for weeks without any sleep. I got up, did coffee, lay on the couch and suddenly broke down and sobbed again. And I can’t help but sob to myself, even though I know I shouldn’t … that “I’m so stupid.” I am so stupid. I am so stupid. I absolutely hate myself right now, and I hate that I am talented. I hate that I am successful. I hate that I am pretty. I hate that I am a target. I hate that I can’t relate to anyone with the lonely road I take with work. I hate that I am not understood. And most especially, I hate that a psychopath got me the minute I snuck out of my hole after three years.

Now I’m back in the hole. Feeling stupid. Feeling more alone than before. And more hopeless than before. And that I gave all my built up talent and energy to a stranger that got drunk off it, and is doing god knows what with it right now to someone else.

I hope to get over this again as well, but I can’t stop crying and I can’t stop staring at the floor and just whispering, I’m so stupid.

Am I destined to be alone? Working career woman, never being appreciated for who she is on the inside and only being admired on the outside? That means nothing to me. And the minute that I show my true self … it’s a psychopath that eats it up. Why am I here on this planet if this is always going to be the case?

Dear Cassandra,

I am so very sorry that, on the very first time you looked for companionship again, you ran into another psychopath. It is so painful. I know exactly how you feel, because I’ve been there, or at least someplace similar. It really hurts.

You demand of yourself, the universe or whatever higher power you believe in, “Why me? What did I do wrong? Why did this happen again? How long will this go on? Haven’t I paid enough? Am I destined to remain alone and unloved for the rest of my life? Why can’t I catch a break? When will it be over?

I’d like to offer a different perspective of your most recent experience: I think you’re making progress.

Here is what has happened: You were ready to take the next step in your healing. And that step was to access, and excavate, the residual pain still buried within you from your first psychopathic ex. Or, perhaps there was an incident of betrayal the even predates that first relationship — maybe something from your family of origin, or a relationship from your youth. Whatever it was, you were still walking around with negative energy within you, and it was time for the energy to come out.

The universe has a funny way of helping us release our pain: It gives us more pain. It presents us with an opportunity to get our hopes up, believe magic will come, and then it all comes crashing down. With that, the thin dam that was holding back the residual pain bursts, and all we can do is cry.

That’s exactly what you did. You broke down and sobbed.

If you were to look at this incident from a “rational” standpoint, you’d wonder why you reacted so badly. After all, you didn’t spend much time with the guy. He was a jerk pretty much from the beginning, so it’s not like you had a lot invested.

So why did it hurt so badly? Because of all your old pain, the disappointment from the past that you’re still carrying around. Because you so wanted a change.

Here’s my advice: Roll with it. Allow yourself to feel the pain, disappointment and betrayal. Honor the experience. You’re cleaning out the old wounds—and once you do, you’ll be in a much better place to attract a new relationship.

As the negative emotions dissipate, replace them with joy. Notice joy wherever you can — perhaps in a lovely view, the affection of a pet, a checkout clerk who’s nice to you. Then, feel gratitude for the moment of joy.

Eventually, if you keep going, the balance will shift. You’ll feel less pain and more joy. And then you’ll be ready for a wonderful new relationship.

I promise you, this is not a setback. It is a step in your healing.



84 Comments on "What feels like pain is really progress"

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  1. Back_from_the_edge says:

    Off topic: I have been reading this morning about stalkers and their profile and causes and reaction and this is a very informative article I have found…wanted to share.

    It has helped me “sort of” ‘understand’ the dynamics.
    Sometimes understanding the dynamics of a situation
    helps put it into perspective.

    http://bjp.rcpsych.org/content/176/3/206.full



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  2. Redwald says:

    Hi Oxy, nice to hear from you again!

    I have to confess that “Abby Normal” came from one of a number of movies that I “should have” seen, but never did. To me, “Abby Normal” was a woman on another, different message board who had no doubt adopted that handle from the movie you were alluding to. As for which movie, I’m afraid I had to cheat and look it up.

    I did discover that “Abby Normal” was also the name adopted by some actress (real name unknown) who appeared in a 1999 short movie titled Ugly Naked People and another one from 2004 named Punk Rock Holocaust, playing one of a number of “Warped Cannibal BBQ Goers and Dead Kids.” This gal is into weird stuff.

    As amusing as that discovery was, I’m sure that’s not the person you were referring to, and this was really all about Young Frankenstein. Incidentally that clip about Abby Normal’s brain is on YouTube—boy, I recognized the late Marty Feldman INSTANTLY! You can’t miss those eyes! So thanks for adding a little to my education!

    A Happy Thanksgiving to you… and to everyone else here!



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  3. Ox Drover says:

    Redwald, I remember seeing Young Frankenstein in the theaters when it came out new, and HOWLING at the sight gags. For each sight gag there would be a “you are going to get a sight gag” line and then the sight gag,, then a “did you see that sight gag?” afterward….and I must have seen the movie 10-12 times, and each time STILL CAUGHT a new gag…and only found ONE gag that did not have a “you ARE going to see a gag” or a “you just saw a gag” and it was were the Nazi guy was “zig heiling” and he used a different arm…but there wasn’t anything about it that said it was going to happen or that it did happen, it just DID quickly happen.

    Marty Feldman is one of my favorite actors and I think I saw about everything he ever did.

    I heard about the Abby Normal actress in 1999 but hadn’t heard about the others. I don’t even make a pretense in keeping up with the latest media stuff or the “personalities” any more. Never did to any great extent, but sure don’t now.

    Hope you had a pleasant holiday repast….ours was quiet and peaceful…had made plans but at last minute just canceled them and decided to stay home and enjoy the day here without a big fanfare, though I admit we did pig out on pumpkin pie!



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