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Getting the sociopath out of your head

Not long ago, I heard from a woman whom we’ll call “Rochelle.” When Rochelle was in her 50s, through a high school reunion, she reconnected with the first boy she ever loved. Rochelle had a crush on him when she was 14. They dated for almost five years, although he always seemed to have an eye out for other girls. When they broke up, Rochelle was heartbroken, but she moved on, married, divorced, and life was reasonably good—until that first love came back into her life.

He poured on the charm, and Rochelle felt like finally, after more than 30 years, she had her chance to be with the guy she always wanted. Rochelle left everything to move out of state with him. They eventually married.

Well, he lied, fabricated, manipulated, accused, took her money, ruined her credit, filed for divorce behind her back, and left her with nothing. It was the type of behavior we all know so well—sociopathic behavior.

Rochelle realizes that the guy is disordered; she was exploited; he never loved her. Still, she wants him. Yet she also realizes that she’s in love with a person who does not exist.

She asks, “When does it get to the point where he stops taking up space in my brain?”

Scope of the question

The first thing to understand is the scope of this question. “Getting the sociopath out of my head” is the ultimate goal of everyone who has been betrayed by one of these predators. Once you’ve achieved it, you’ve achieved full recovery.

So cut yourself some slack. This individual probably crashed through your life like a battering ram. Your emotions, finances, home, health and/or psyche may all be in splinters. This is going to take time to repair. If anyone says to you, “Just get over it,” this person has no idea what you’re experiencing.

Understand what happened

You were probably blindsided by this experience, so in order to move forward, you need to understand what happened. We have lots of material here on Lovefraud to help you. Many people have told me that my two books, Love Fraud and Red Flags of Love Fraud, were especially helpful.

Here are some key concepts:

  • Sociopaths exist. They are social predators and they live their lives by exploiting people. They do not feel remorse for their actions, and they will never change.
  • The sociopath never loved you. You were targeted because you had something he or she wanted. It could have been money, sex, a place to live, business connections or cover for his or her secret life. Or, the sociopath messed with you simply for the fun of it.
  • There is nothing you could have done to make the sociopath treat you any better. The involvement was always about exploitation. You were probably targeted because you were good, caring, giving, responsible, and in some way, vulnerable.
  • The blame for what happened rests squarely with the sociopath. This person lied to you, manipulated you and betrayed you. You were guilty only of being human.

Acceptance

Recovering from sociopaths is a process. The key to the process is accepting what happened. This does not mean that you excuse what happened, or that you try to forgive and forget. But you must believe that yes, he or she did it, and yes, the sociopath knew what he or she was doing.

You can’t make time go backwards. You can’t take back the things you said or did that enabled the sociopath to become part of your life.

Once you come to terms with the fact that yes, it did happen, you begin the healing process.

Addictive relationship

In the case I described at the beginning of the article, Rochelle said that she still wanted the sociopath. This is not quite accurate. The truth is that she was addicted to him.

Relationships with sociopaths are highly addictive. They actually cause chemical and structural changes in the brain, similar to what substance addictions do. Therefore, you need to treat leaving the sociopath like kicking an addiction.

The way to do this is to have no further contact with this individual—no phone calls, no email, no text messages. Certainly do not meet the person. Don’t even go to the individual’s Facebook page.

If you must have contact with the individual for some reason—like you have a child together—do your best to implement Emotional No Contact. That means you remain absolutely neutral in any interaction. Sociopath love to get emotional reactions from their targets, and will do whatever they can to engage you. Do not take the bait.

Staying away from the sociopath can be really difficult. But the longer you stay away, the stronger you’ll become. If you give in and have contact, you’ll have to start all over again..

Processing the pain

This was not a normal relationship, and it’s not a normal break-up. Even if you weren’t physically or sexually assaulted, you suffered massive emotional and psychic injuries. You have losses that need to be grieved, including your loss of trust.

I believe that you must allow yourself to feel the pain of the experience, although you may not be able to do this right away. In the beginning you may just be numb. This a protective measure taken by your psyche, because the injury is just so massive.

Eventually, you need to let yourself feel it. You cannot bottle the pain up within you. It will either poison your life, or it will make you ill. You must get the pain out of your system.

Cry your eyes out. Stomp you feet in anger. Take up boxing and hit a punching bag. It’s scary at first to face your own anger, embarrassment, rage, humiliation—whatever the sociopath caused. But allow yourself to feel the emotions, honor them, and then let them go.

Let joy into your life

Draining the negative emotions will leave an energetic void within you. How do you fill the empty space? You allow joy into your life.

Any kind of joy will do: Enjoying a sunny day, letting your pets comfort you, having coffee with a friend, letting a waitress be nice to you. Soak up any joy and pleasantness that you encounter.

As you drain the negative emotions, and replace them with instances of joy, you’ll slowly change your perspective. Gradually, you’ll find that the sociopath is no longer renting space in your head. And that’s what you want to achieve.

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553 Comments on "Getting the sociopath out of your head"

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  1. toknowimok says:

    Thank you Tea Light, fight and Donna for your feedback. I know I glossed over many details, but just wanted you to get the gist of it. Tea light, yes you are correct, that is what happened. And I had never considered sociopathy to ever really affect my life. I knew, peripherally, what it was. But I never gave it much thought. Now that I had this experience, it’s ALL I think about. Isn’t life hard enough ? Now knowing how vulnerable I really am (or at least how vulnerable I was 7 months ago) it just makes me wonder that if this is the personality type that I attract, I probably shouldn’t be so openhearted . Well at least not so quickly. I’m approaching middle age, and don’t want to be alone, I would like to settle down. I’m going through that subject in therapy. The thought that I keep having is I may just end up alone because of my trust and abandonment issues. I may just have to accept that as I am getting older. I will definitely be posting and reading on this site often. I appreciate all of the support already, thank you!

    • fight says:

      toknow: I hope you will continue to read and see that you are not alone and it is THEM, not you. We CAN learn to see the red flags as Donna discusses, for future reference. But, often, we can be quite hurt when we are allowed by the spath to see those red flags. They can cover them up for a few months and then we are in their web and pulled in by the love we thought it was. There is a great Archives of articles here, and a lot of support

      • toknowimok says:

        Thank you flight! Yes I’m definitely reading it all. What I’ve found so far is how lucky I am that I didn’t meet the guy face to face. I imagine how much worse it could have been. At the same time, I’m grieving the death of an illusion. I was duped. Not only for the nearly 2 months of seemingly romantic phone chatter, but 5 years of what I thought was a friendship. I think that’s what hurts the most. It was all a lie and I believed it.

        • fight says:

          You’re welcome, toknoimok. Thank you, also. We allhelp each other here.

          You are not alone in feeling the way you do. Many people give decades of their lives before understanding what they are dealing with. The thing about full human beings is that we tend to think that others are like us. If we are kind, compassionate, don’t lie, want to love and please others, we think everyone is that way. What we find with Sociopaths and other personality disordered people in that category, is that they absolutely do not think or feel like we do. The things that make them feel good are “reading” us (in person, by phone, online, etc.) by what we reveal to them in trust as a fellow human being, figuring out how to get any multitude of things out of us, their “accomplishment” a getting us to trust them when they know they are not to be trusted, etc. It is the same as any confidence man. Their only goal is to gain our confidence, get what they can, and get out. A man/woman like that online could have hundreds of people feeding his ego and he is hurting any of them who don’t think and feel like him/her. We get a rush out of feelings of love and care and fulfillment from a job well done, helping others, etc. They get a rush from lying, cheating, tricking, etc. They will do anything to have a bevy of people they are tricking.

          Donna posted a great article here a few days ago. I will see if I can bring it back up at the left with a comment. It was FROM a Sociopath. Donna must be a strong person because I’m sure she gets these people trying to con and play games with her all of the time. In that article, she shared with the rest of us how they think…what really makes them tic. Stuff we need to know to protect ourselves.

          It is definitely one of those growth processes we don’t ask for! Take care.

          • Tea Light says:

            Toknowimok, 5 years…that’s a long time to be investing emotionally, becoming attached to and presumably opening up to this person. The depression is of course, as you know, grief at the loss of the illusion of trust and care this man appeared to offer. It’s such cruel behaviour. What helped me, as I did not want to lose faith in others, was to keep reminding myself most people are well meaning and many are kind and very caring by nature. Don’t allow this pitiful gameplayer to isolate you from others. Be careful, know your red flags, have your boundaries, but lettre yourself continue to love. It will be returned. Stay safe!

          • fight says:

            Well said, Tea Light! Very compassionate as I always see here from you. I am grateful to see you here.

    • toknowimok says:

      Once again, thank you Tea Light and flight, for your words of support. They mean more than you know. I’m definitely taking this time to heal. I’ve come a long way, but still have a long way to go. Definitely need to go easier on myself. I miss the person I was a year ago

      • fight says:

        If you go up to the top red bar here and go to the “About” link, you can click on “Archives” and search and find articles that fit what you are going through right now. I have found that extremely helpful to read a lot of the articles to keep my head in the best place. If I fill my head with the good things, it is difficult for the spath to take up much room. Also, as I spend time here reading and writing, I am too busy to spend much time with him/doing much for him. I am taking care of me here and being who I am and finding other people that are recovering themselves from out of the dark hole of living with, or having been maltreated by, a sociopath.

  2. Delta1 says:

    Hi Jeanie – oh wow – I totally empathise with your situation, because you sound alot like me, you know ‘my’ spath brought out my inner warrior too! You know ‘my’ spath also stacked bottles of pee at one point. Eeuw! But a little advice – It’s completely okay to be ragin’ angry, but….. it kind of keeps you locked in the drama. I guess I’m saying that it’s also allowed to let it go a little and focus on some pleasurable things too. The spaths like to keep the crazy going forever because they literally don’t have the have capacity for pleasure that we do Jeanie and have literally nothing better to do. Negative pycho drama is as close to happiness as they will ever get! So hoorah for empaths and our well developed pleasure receptors lol! We have so many more options than the spath does. But however you feel- bright blessings to you;)
    Delta1

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