For the first time in 12 years, we’ve had a dog in the house. Terry and I have been watching our nephew’s dog while he and his parents are on vacation.
The dog, Cade, is a frisky 15-month-old mix. I don’t know what breeds are in the mix, but Cade looks a lot like Beau, the dog I had while married to the sociopath — and the dog who kept me company as I recovered from my ex-husband’s destruction.
I’ve been having flashbacks.
Cade follows me around the house the way Beau did. He curls up in the same spots on the carpet that Beau liked. And he gets in the same kind of trouble that Beau did when he was young.
I’m loving every minute of it (okay, I could do with a little less chewing).
Cade touches that part of my heart reserved for furry friends who want nothing more than to be by my side. I remember how much I needed that unconditional love and loyalty while coping with the betrayal of the sociopath.
When I left James Montgomery, I took all five of our animals with me, even though Montgomery had brought four of them into our household.
Beau was mine — I’d had him for several years before I met the sociopath. The other pets were Herbie the African pygmy hedgehog, Chuckie the chinchilla, and Donald and Jamie, Australian sugar gliders (who were eventually replaced by Hope and Mojo).
You can see photos of the pets here.
Montgomery liked exotic animals. Of course, with the short attention span of a sociopath, he brought them home, but I was the one who took care of them all.
Stability and support
When I finally learned the truth of my husband’s deceit, and my life crashed down around me, the pets provided me with a bit of stability and lots of unwavering emotional support.
Their need for me to care for them was what created a bit stability in my life — I couldn’t ignore them and wallow in my own misery 24/7. They were my family, other living beings in a house that would have been lonely without them.
They comforted me. When I collapsed into tears, time and time again, Beau did his best to lick them away. Even the little pets cuddled with me.
Unlike humans, the pets were not judgmental. Their love was pure and simple, with no strings attached.
In the moment
When we discover that we’ve been thoroughly betrayed by a sociopath, we typically go into mental and emotional overdrive. We dwell on everything that the sociopath said and did in the past, trying to figure out what else was a lie. We obsess on what the sociopath is doing now with his or her new target. And we despair about the future, fearful that we will never get over the pain, and never feel okay again.
One approach to getting through this firestorm is to focus on staying in the moment — not dwelling on the past or projecting into the future.
Pets are great for this. Animals want to be fed now. Or walked now. Or petted now. Yes, sometimes their antics in search of attention can be annoying — but I think they may know that we’re in pain, and are doing their best to distract us. Giving in, and focusing on them, gives us a bit of respite from our troubles, at least for a few minutes.
Bringing joy to our lives
As I’ve written many times, I believe that, as bad as it is, the betrayal of a sociopath presents us with an opportunity for internal growth. I believe the best way to deal with the painful emotions is to allow ourselves to feel them, so that we can purge them from our system.
Releasing the emotions creates an empty space within, and the best thing to do with the space is to fill it with joy. But in the midst of the trauma, it’s unlikely that we’re feeling much joy.
And that’s where the pets can help again. Even just a few moments of unconditional love from a furry (or feathered, or whatever) friend can be a soothing balm for a broken heart. Pets can also offer us a safe place for us to learn to love again.
How about you? Did a pet help you recover from your devastation by a sociopath? Please share your story.