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By February 16, 2009 Read More →

A guidebook for recovering from the devastation of a sociopath

Legal Abuse SyndromeI clearly remember the shock of realizing that everything my ex-husband, James Montgomery, had ever told me was a lie. I remember the devastation of discovering the truth: His entire purpose in marrying me was to get a free place to live, take advantage of my good reputation and defraud me of my assets. All the promises, all the assurances, were literally sweet nothings. They sounded good, and meant absolutely nothing.

I remember being paralyzed by my new truth. How could I possibly plan a recovery for my life, when every day I was falling apart? Worse, no one seemed to have an explanation for what happened, or advice on how to handle it.

It’s been 10 years since I left my ex-husband. I’ve now identified what I was dealing with—a sociopath. I read books that explained the disorder, such as Without Conscience by Dr. Robert Hare. But books with practical advice on how to cope with the trauma? They’re hard to come by. One of the best I’ve found, surprisingly, is Legal Abuse Syndrome, by Karin Huffer, M.S., M.F.T., which is now available in the Lovefraud Store.


Eight steps to recovery

The book was written to help victims cope with the betrayals and inefficiencies of the “justice system” after a violent or deceptive assault. Huffer contends that continuous assault by the legal establishment creates post traumatic stress disorder in the victim.

Well, the egregious assault of a sociopath created post traumatic stress disorder in many of us, whether we got involved with the legal system or not. So in the course of laying out a plan for overcoming legal abuse, Huffer also lays out a plan for overcoming sociopathic abuse.

Huffer identifies eight steps to recovery:

1. Debriefing. That means telling someone what happened, and that person listening without judgment.

2. Grieving. It is legitimate to grieve the loss of possessions, or our lifestyle, or our place in the community.We didn’t just lose things. We lost part of ourselves.

3. Obsession. Huffer suggests coping with obsession by compartmentalizing it—only allowing yourself to dwell in it for specific periods of time.

4. Blaming. This means putting blame where it belongs: on the perpetrator. The guilt, anger and rage needs to directed towards the person who deceived us.

5. Deshaming. The dreadful experience has taught us that some of our prior beliefs are false and need to be changed. When we do this, we change our attitude from “I was a fool” to “I’ve been wronged.”

6. Reframing. At this stage, you can look at your experience, define it differently, and then articulate the wisdom you’ve gained.

7. Empowerment. You take ownership of your problems, determine how you are going to cope with them, and go into action.

8. Recovery. With recovery, you are able to move forward in your life.

Protocol works

I spoke to the author, Karin Huffer, at the Battered Mothers Conference in January. It was the first time I’d seen her since finishing the book. I told her that, in my opinion, the eight steps she defined for recovering from legal abuse would also work in recovering from a sociopath.

Huffer agreed. In fact, she said that her program has now been out long enough to have proven itself. “The protocol works,” she said.

When we decided to add the Lovefraud Store to our website, one of the books that I really wanted to offer was Legal Abuse Syndrome. It explains why other people—even those who care about you—can’t listen to what you’re saying. It tells you how to place blame where it should be—on the predator. It tells you how to handle your obsessions. Oh, yes, and it tells you how to cope with legal shenanigans.

Legal Abuse Syndrome is now available, and I strongly recommend it—even if you aren’t in court with the predator who assaulted you.

Legal Abuse Syndrome in the Lovefraud Store.


Hi Donna. You write:

“I really wanted to offer was Legal Abuse Syndrome. It explains why other people—even those who care about you—can’t listen to what you’re saying.”

This is a very intriguing sentence, to say the least. Would you expound on this some more in a future blog item?

People who care about us cannot listen to what we are saying?
Why not? Is it that they listen but cannot comprehend the devastation because they have not experienced firsthand damage from a sociopath? Are we destined to share our stories only with those who have “been through the fire” themselves?

And what about professionals? Are they unable to listen either?

I’m very interested in knowing your additional thoughts on this.

I, too, have felt that many people are loathe to believe or to accept the true nature of a sociopath or abuser. I don’ know if it is a personality quirk in itself to deny the reality of the sociopath when they are confronted with it. For example, as you say, some family members and friends responded skeptically to my initial reports of why I was divorcing.

On the other hand, I admit I sometimes feel skeptical when confronted with a person’s “story” about the socopath in his or her life. My ex-husband, after abusing me, blithely turned around and came up with the story of how I was the abusive one in the relationship, I was the deceptive one, etc. It was unbelievable at the time, but a few people believed it. The experience of how readily my ex could lie (bend the truth) about our experiences together made me realize that from the point of view of an outside observer, it would be very hard to know who was being truthful. Is that what you mean?

Dear Alina,

I have experienced the same thing, and many others have posted on this blog, and other blogs, about others “just not getting it” It seems to be almost “universal” and the rarity of finding someone who DOES “get it” if they haven’t been “through the fire themselves” is sometimes disheartening.

Our need for “validation” and their apparent inability to comprehend, or to avoid comprehending maybe, the devestation we have endured makes a kind of a “Catch 22.”

To me, finding ANYONE who does get it is very validating and at that early stage in the pain I was NOT able to “validate” myself. As I have progressed on the healing road, I am now able to “validate myself” more. That is comforting too, when I don’t feel the NEED to have someone else validate my reality. I see that as a BIG step in the growth and healing in me, but it was difficult to get to this place.

As I was learning new skills, like setting boundaries, I was so anxious and afraid to set them because I was afraid I would be “unfair” or “mean” so I would talk to my adult son and ask him for his validation that the boundary Iwanted to set was “reasonable” and “Not mean”—-but now that I am calmer, and “have beter sense” and am not RE-acting, but ACTING in my own self interest, I no longer feel that NEED for validation from my son or anyone else.

I can validate my own opinions, my own boundaries, and my own behavior and I am no longer “scared chitless” that I might “hurt someone’s feelings” by putting my own interests into the equation. MY INTERESTS, MY SELF PRESERVATION IS IMPORTANT. I AM IMPORTANT. I no longer have to “keep the peace” at ANY price, and pay that price myself.

It is OKAY to disengage from people who are trying to take advantage of me. It is OKAY to fight (in court or out) if I have to defend myself. It is OKAY to take care of ME! New concept and now that I have figured out how to do it, and realized it is not only OKAY but NECESSARY to take care of me, it becomes easier and easier. Hang in there. If the only people who will validate you are here at LF, at least you have us and I can guarentee you that WE CAN AND WILL VALIDATE YOUR PAIN. There will come a day on the road to Healing that you will validate yourself and that will be ALL YOU NEED. ((((hugs))))

I like this model–it rings very true for me.

For me, the hardest step is “de-shaming.” I still have to work on that one still, and quite often.

Oxy,

I loved what you just said. All of it!

It boils down to this. We count.

Before this, we didn’t count ourselves. That is what it means when we have no boundaries. We don’t count ourselves.

Now I do. It’s shakey at times but I keep practicing.

Thank God for that.

And thank you for your amazing wisdom and all that you give to this community!

XO Elise

Dear Alina,

I read your questions. Before I read Donna’s answer, I was going to say something along the same lines.. so I must have learned something from all of this!

I believe people can’t hear us because hearing us requires a radical shift in their belief systems… the same shift that we have to go through so painfully as we slowly “get it” ourselves. Think of how confronting it was for us…

What happened to us is just not possible in most people’s minds. It’s not possible without the common explanations we use in our adult lives: “It takes two” or “What did YOU contribute to make this happen?”

I got those kinds of tid bits from people trying to help. I also had a friend call me a “stalker” when I was in my obsessing phase. I wanted to stop BM from doing what he was doing even though I still didn’t know for sure what he did to me but it seemed illegal to me because I certainly felt violated! WHEW! (That was a mouth full.)

Your questions are powerful and they are issues we have all struggled with.

Oh Jeebus! We need another thread to deal with the Criminals justice system (it’s certainly not ours).
I was soooo hung out to dry by Crown Counsel. They refused to even talk to me about what was happening. They didn’t talk to me until two days before court, by then N had convinced me to not proceed with the charges. I think they thought they were protecting me, but they didn’t know N had resurfaced.
No wonder N got to me – he knew there was no one else there.

Aloha,

Thank you for that kudo!

That “it takes two to fight” is what is drummed into us as children in first grade. (or earlier for some kids) and that is NOT ALWAYS TRUE, but it is the “politically correct” way that many parents and teachers handle fights among children. I AM glad though that some schools are recognizing the fact that some kids are bullies and are putting a stop to that kind of behavior.

When I was in second grade (and the smallest and youngest kid in my class) I was targeted by a child bully who beat me up on a regular basis. I did not “tell” on her and for some reason actually felt shame that it was happening. Until she broke my jaw by hitting me with a coke bottle, the daily beatings went on. After that they were stopped. The child had probably been bullied herself, she was the youngest of 22 children in the family which lived in abject poverty and so I know she must have had some real issues, but none-the-less she came to school and took them out on me, a smaller and weaker child who did not know how to “fight” (I had no siblings) and I was the perfect victim.

I have often wondered (and still do) about why I was the perfect victim for her, why I felt SHAME at the way she treated me, why I would not “tell” my daddy or my teacher. Because of that experience, though, I taught my kids when they were quite young the difference between “tattling” and “telling.” I taught them that “tattling” was coming continually and “tattling” that “Johnny called me a doo doo” and “telling” was coming and saying “Johnny is hitting or setting the house on fire, etc.” Even at a very young age, my kids grasped the differences in being a “tattle tale trouble maker” and “informing” or “telling” about serious things.

pb: I think the words “criminal justice system” are an OXYMORON.

This article’s timing is amazing. I’ve been sitting here today wanting to contact the S and ask him to come home so we could try again (even though he’s already living with another woman!). I knew he had to get a place to live, but never did I think he would manipulate someone to let him move in let alone another woman! I was hurt, angry and very confused. Then all the lies started coming to light and voila…I researched and found out he’s a sociopath. How did I not see it before? It’s been approximately four weeks and yet I find myself still obsessing. I’ll be glad when I’m into recovery mode. This article helped me get my sanity back. Thanks!

The eight steps are ringing very true to me. I’m going through the grieving and obsessing, I am stuck on the deshaming (I was a fool). But the debriefing? I don’t know anyone I can tell how much money I gave him without being judged, I even judge myself! AAArrrggghhh. I have told all of you, does that count?

Thank you once again Donna. I know I will benefit from this book, as yes I expect to soon be in court etc.

A fundemental aspect of people “not hearing” is I believe the dogma that we all want to cling to that “there is good in everyone”.

It seems downright nasty to try and dissuade a freind from that conviction. Especially if they have been charmed by our PSN. If they have sensed our trauma and unease. If they have seen us practically fall apart. While the predator is calm and composed, rational sounding, unflustered.

The way I see it is if, we, the victims, could not see it, while directly in the flighpath of the PSN, how can our freinds or family, who after all are cultivated as allies by the P, possibly be expected to get it?

People want to be fair, and they understand that a relationship in chaos has the proverbial “two sides”. It goes entirely against the grain to hear only the victims side, and not assume there is another side to the coin. We risk sounding hysterical, or like whiners etc.

We are lucky if we have one or two people who “get it” ..and we are lucky to have LF.

For some unkown reason, even though I was very needy and wanting support, I chose not to tell my story to my freinds. It would have been to “fantastic”, as in must be a fantasy (the bad kind). I kenw they absolutely would not believe me, and I would create fodder for the gristmill so to speak, with my incredible tale. (It was incredible, even to me)

That turned out to be a good choice, because I was able to deal with my recovery without any ones second guessing, and people make up their own stories in any event, based on their filters and prejudices. Time has proven to be on my side, as the ex P has pretty muched ceased getting any supply from the people close to me, and has demonstrated his callous disregard for his family, freinds and so on.

Having said all that, I am convinced that if I did volunteer my story, even now, it would be heard with scepticism, grain of salt, she is angry, he has moved on type of thing.

Are my freinds shallow and insensitive? No. Just conditioned to be fair minded and balanced. They do not know a P close up.

And that is a good thing.

Peace

Thank you, Donna, oxdrover, alohatraveler….

It’s good to be reminded that there is a long journey one takes in order to “see” and “believe” the sociopathy in someone I loved. It took me years. So it does not surprise me that there are many people who have not made that journey and resist hearing information that contradicts their belief systems.

EXACTLY Alina…

“iformation that contradicts their belief systems.”

That is it in a nutshell.

And when our beliefs are tested, it is very confronting.

What would it mean if we (they) gave up what we (they) believe to be true about people?

I’be been reading this blog for over a year and find it incredibly helpful. Today’s post was particularly well timed. I am definitely at the point where I am struggling with deshaming. Thank you for reminding me that I was wronged.
I am so grateful for the fact that technology allows us to find kindred spirits.

Oxdrover your post resonated particularly as I sometimes even feel shame about needing validation! Talk about a catch 22 indeed!

Oxy, Once again, you speak to my soul! I have written these very words! I do Count! My feelings are important! I too have discussed with my 25 year old son about boundaries. Yes, you will find VALIDATION here on LF! Thank God someone believes us. Thank you so much for your words of wisdom and kindness always. It means so much to us all.

Donna. although I hate that you had to experience the devastation of a Sociopath, I am so grateful that you have educated so many others with your knowledge and dedication to Love Fraud. It has been a “life saver” for me. Much appreciation to YOU!

This is really true, and it explains what I went through. The shame!! The obsession!! Luckily it has been a year and I feel neither of them anymore. I am in the recovery stage now. It wasn’t easy and it took a lot of work. The feeling I have now is superiority to my abusers. I feel higher in status and like a saint or mother theresa in comparison to their vagrant unwholesome yuck. I never feel superior to people. I love all people usually. It is a strange feeling for me, but it’s what I feel none the less. I’m not sure what stage I am in, but it’s waaaaay better then the stage of humiliation and obsession. Best of luck in healing to everyone!!

Dear ((((Bird)))))

I am so glad to hear your positive post!!! I have missed updates from you but I continue to pray for you and send you and the Baby Bird my warm wishes.

YOU ARE SUPERIOR TO THEM! It isn’t arrogance to feel that way, it is reality. So many times we are taught that “all people are equal” and that is so far from the truth! People are only “equal” (or should be) before the LAW. Otherwise, we are not. some are shorter, some taller, some more talented in this or that, and some kinder, sweeter, more caring, etc. but we are not in any way “equal” or the same.

The truth is:

There is NO tooth fairy.
There is No Easter Bunny.
It does NOT take two to fight.
There are NOT two sides to every story that are both valid.
There is NOT good in everyone.
Some people are EVIL personified.
NOT everyone can be “helped”/reformed/fixed/understood.
Everyone is NOT equal.
I AM BETTER than a psychopath.

my dear Bird, you are in the HEALING STAGE, the GROWTH STAGE, and you are becoming stonger and more powerful every day. Stay on that road to Healing. I have tears of joy running down my face for you. You have accomplished so much in such a short time and I am as proud of you as if I were your mother! And proud FOR you! You are an AWESOME young woman! Baby Bird is fortunate to have such a womderful, strong, wise warrior-woman for his mother!!!! (((((Bird and Baby Bird)))))) Love from Auntie Oxy!

I have been observing, reading, taking this wonderful site “all-in”…trying to apply it to my story. Some days I can, others I find myself struggling. In my quest to be completely honest with myself, I find myself looking back and realizing that I, too, displayed behaviors that were not that of a true lady. Granted, they were all based on reactions to his actions, but still they added to a completely dysfunctional relationship. While my primary goal is to heal, I also want to learn about my part in this and improve WHO I AM. Not to be mistaken for not putting the blame where it belongs – on the S – but to painstakingly take the time to delve into who I am, who I became and who I want to be. I am struggling with my part in the past 4 years (or does the age old addage “it takes two” not apply to relationships with P/S? If I am as honest and open and vulnerable as I can be – I partook in behaviors that would clearly be defined at times as being deceitful, mean, cold, etc. I am struggling to understand was it a result of the S dysfunction that I adapted in such a negative dysfunctional way or do I have a disordered personality as well? Im very confused..and almost did not post, but truly want to learn the lesson on the past 4 YEARS with a relationship w/someone who took my money (yet I gave it/and at times offered it!) who stole my in-laws money (they had to go to court) and who I allowed to continue to stay in my life to “try to help”.. now Im the one who needs some “help” healing. I would have never thought Id be here…but Im glad I am. Thanks for listening.

Thanks Ox! I couldn’t have done it without you and this blog. It would have destroyed me. Thank you!!! Baby bird is doing really good!

I go back and forth between those stages of healing.

It’s been five years since NC., aside the bday card he sent me 3 years ago.

I just started having rally full blown dreams about the S. I am in therapy and I think I am finally releasing some stuff.

Question- Do you people on this forum have re-occuring, for most part disturbing dreams about the s? In particular I have similar dreams with slight changes, almost every night.

Dear learnthelesson,

WELCOME!! You are already far down the road to Healing by accepting that your RE-action to his Actions was part of the dysfunction of the relationship. Forgiving yourself for that is part of the healing as well.

Finding out why you were vulnerable to him is the part of ourselves we need to “fix” and first we must find out what is “broken.”

Glad you are here, I suggest that you keep on reading and reading and reading, some of the books on here, and also Robert Hare’s “Without Conscience” is very enlightening.

Again, welcome, and glad you are here! This IS a healing place. God bless.

Alina said:

“On the other hand, I admit I sometimes feel skeptical when confronted with a person’s “story” about the socopath in his or her life. My ex-husband, after abusing me, blithely turned around and came up with the story of how I was the abusive one in the relationship, I was the deceptive one, etc. It was unbelievable at the time, but a few people believed it.”

Is in it ironic???? This seems like a common thread with the sociopaths. God, all the shame they try to make you feel. It’s like they tap into something very primal, infantile that lives within us. Shame…maybe????

Alina, you are not alone in this. I have gone through something similar, lost people who I thought were my friends because they thought I was making up stories about the s. These people called ME toxic. They just could not see it. In a way it’s understandable, I fell for the deception of the s myself for so many years.

If I looked at myself from the outside, at the time, would I have believed me? Maybe not. The s was so composed, accomplished, helpful, loyal, up-standing in the community, professor allmighty.

Me, worn down, frustrated, angry, voicing anger, feeling crazy, dismissed, depressed, cut off from the world. Who looked more credible to the outside world?

I even had someone tell me that I was jealous of the s’s success, that’s why I felt angry at him. Ha-ha, this was coming from a so called friend who was a practicing therapist. LOL in retrospect.

Thank you “Ox”… I can certainly see from all the blogs and blog comments that this is quite the place to be for “help” with the healing process. I do feel that I have come “a long way” myself, but that there will always be much to learn from this horrible life experience as well as new beautiful ones to be made in my life with healthier souls. I have been physically out of the relationship for over a year, but we dysfunctionally managed to prolong the dysfunctional interaction via text for well over a year. (That fact, is beyond comprehension, but sadly very true). Ending on Christmas Day, to which I did not reply to his self serving “Merry X-Mas” message. Here is where I am struggling… a week weeks ago he started sending “installment payment” money orders via mail. I almost passed out at the mailbox. I thought it wasnt the “norm” for S/P to actually take responsibility for thier actions?? Granted during and near the “end of the journey” I gave him a heaping dose of “some day sit down and take a look at your history, your past, your patterns and see if you can objectively see that the choices you make are reaking havoc in others lives and leaving a path of destruction…etc. But I cannot make sense of the payments after 4 years. Honestly, it has set me back as its the last thing I expected to have happen at this point. Except that its a blessing to be able to recover some of the thousands I lost…Although the financial loss takes a backseat to the emotional loss and personal “loss of self” I experienced. Im in a place of confusion again, out of nowhere! AGAIN

ps..But I will, read, read. reread and keep reading books as you suggested. As I may find all the insight I need to remain strong and focused on my healing process and not on why he does the things he does… Thanks again.

learnthelesson:

Take the money and run. View it as reparations payments akin to those that conquered nations like Germany had to pay in the past.

And don’t look back to give him a thank you or anything else for that matter.

Dear Greenfern.,

I used to have dreams that had “themes” in them and occasionally have “bad” dreams now. Had one last night. The theme dreams stopped when I realized the “message” in them, of me taking care of others while my whole life exploded around my feet. Our subconscious I think processes things that we need to process and so the dreams sometimes have “messages” in them.

I used ot have a lot of “frustration” dreams where I was trying to do something and never could complete it, I think it meant I was feeling “out of control of things” and BOY was that a right on, atta boy message.

I haven’t had one of those in a long time. I am now taking control, taking back my power.

I’m glad you are in therapy I think it helps many times if you can find a person who DOES GET IT about the Ps.

BTW all S/Ps are Ns, but not all Ns are S/Ps.

Learning, I think the money is a trying to “get back in” at some point. Like “See, I’m really a good guy, I paid you back some of the money you gave me….”Don’t expect it to go on two long, though. I hope it does, but HE HAS AN ULTERIOR MOTIVE.

Matt.. wow did I ever need that chuckle today! 🙂

Indigo… you prob hit the nail on the head too.. the money orders are (sit down first :)… $50. But hey, I am NOT knocking it, I considered it a lucky moment in a long list of many unlucky ones with him. Trusting him can never and will never cross my newly focused brain! The emotional abuse I allowed nearly cost me my spirit. I must stay strong and focused.

Ox.. I think thats why I logged on… I was struggling with some weak thoughts and questioning my decisions and choices to “get out”. It must be normal when we are given reminders (especially in the mailbox lol) of the past and unfortunately mine are STILL those of the “masked days” rather than the “fallen mask days”… my initial instinct was that of – HE HAS A MOTiVE – but learning to trust my instincts again is still in the recovery stages.

So glad to have googled “Sociopath” and learned that Im not losing my mind 🙂 and landed amongst some of the most insightful people who help eachother heal through experience.

Dear learnthelesson. I just can second Matt. Take the money but DO NOT RESPOND!!! They do NOT CHANGE!! A leopard does not change his spots!

I fell for a nice card the X wrote me to thank me end of this January for a book on fear I sent him on October last year, and I was reading between the lines he has gained some insight in his behaviour and he has changed. I WAS NOT SEEING THE ULTERIOR MOTIVE OF GETTING POWER OF THE LAST WORD OVER ME!!!

I wrote him back how the book has helped me, how I saw our “relationship” and why it did not work, that it was the best time of my life so far the first three months, what my hopes were. I was seeing afterwards an abyss I never want to see again, that I for sure do not want anybody treat me in my life to come the way he did in the end. And he should not contact me anymore. But that I can look back to the whole time with him without bitterness as I have learned a lot about myself, the world and my place in this world. That he made me a better human being by holding a mirror, and I hoped to be a mirror for him too.

In short, I told him everything about my healing so far. I made myself vulnerable. BIG MISTAKE!!!

He sent me back a very cruel cold card, stating that the whole “relationship” was merely an “escort thing” to him, and on top he was making me look like a bitter woman who can’t cope with having had a “normal” break up, that it just did not work with the two of us as with many other couples, that it is normal to go on, and he was telling me that he found somebody new that gives him a good feeling (thinner, a psychiatrist; so I also felt inadequate reading it having been writing about fear and psychological aspects of relationships) and that I will find somebody too some day.

I felt very upset, and it gives me still today after 3 days a churning feel in the stomach. No Contact is so powerful! The only good thing is that the bargaining came to a halt, the hope finished and ANGER kicked in very forcefully. Maybe I needed it? But I would not have traded the feeling of anger for the GOOD feeling of being in power over the X. I am really sorry I lost it, and I am not sure to get it back as he had the last word now (I for sure will NOT respond to this card). And he has my email to prove to his new GF, he can delete the unpleasant things and just show off the GOOD parts. HOW stupid of me!!! the more I think about the angrier I get.

Do not trust, the money is just a means to a twisted mind game. (he knows the card did not work!) It is all about power! It is like chess, you give away the little pawn to get the queen.

I wish you a very calm evening. If you don’t want to keep the money, why not donate it to a woman’s shelter?

Libelle. Wow, I can really relate to much you have shared. However, looking at it as an outsider, I would say to you and now to myself …

1. If he was really being honest and gained insight in his behaviour and he has changed… then you would not have received such a disturbing cruel cold card!!!!!

2. You are the one who has gained insight and is changing every day! Your words to him were POWERFUL, POSITIVE, MATURE, and quite frankly my exact words to my “S” during our “texting days”…

3. Be careful not to get caught up on his level of needing the “power” or the “last word” or “winning” – he will never again have any of that with you – except you could possibly consider – joyfully letting him have the last word – as you do not need to be a part of that twisted mind game either.

How glad are you that you are not the new GF, being suckerd into reading a “doctored” email that he will envitably have to use because he will find himself on the receiving end of another one leaving him and will have to prove himself through more deceit!

I will not trust my S ever again. You are all probably so right, and to think I almost texted “Thank you”!! UGH He rarely thanked me and never apologized for that matter. I owe him nothing. He owes me my entire savings for starters!

I have not cashed the two money orders (dont know why..) but part of it was deciding where to donate whatever I get back. A womens shelter is a wonderful idea! Im also considering places that specialize in finding a “cure” for this illness through voluntary therapy and medication. Not for my S – as he would never consent to anything being wrong with him – but for future generations to come who show signs/symptoms in thier younger years. I am an optimist that way. But a realist about the fact that there presently is no cure.

Thanks for sharing that with me. I am proud of the way you handled yourself with your X and you should be too! You REALLY showed him you regained your own power and healthy attitude in your note to him. BRAVO

Greenfern,
I used to have the dreams every night. I was having to get by on 3 or 4 hours of sleep every day. They always contained him shaming or controlling me in some way, or flaunting his OW in front of me. As I have traveled down my own healing path, the dreams have become less frequent, maybe 3 or 4 times a month. That’s better than a constant horror show every night!

Dear learnthelesson;
Cash the money orders! How about starting a savings account for travel or rainy day or whatever you might want to do? Haven’t you paid a big enough price? Just like Oxy said about “taking care of others while her whole life exploded around her feet”, I too was a “life saver” to the detriment of myself. I would give and give and give…. As they say in flight, “put the oxygen mask on yourself FIRST!” and then you will be able to help others”. I am just saying that you deserve that money- do something nice for yourself. Massage- whatever helps. Take care! Glad you found support here too! Stay strong and “no thank you’s or contact”.

Learnthelesson, sounds like you are recently out of contact–a few months, so there may still be some bargaining going on in your mind about whether he is a sociopath. If he is, then the the money orders are a power play. He wants to reel you back in. As far as questioning your own behaviors, I have a slightly different take on it. There is a very good article on this site somewhere called, “Can victims become like the sociopath?”. The answer is yes. You can have severe behavioral changes in reaction to being traumatized. It’s actually a normal response to a crazy situation. Many years ago, I was an exotic dancer. My entire personality changed as a result of the types of people I was hanging out with. It took months after quitting to return to myself again. I think it is normal to have a total personality change when involved with a sociopath. I find the more revealing question is not why you behaved in certain ways, but why did you ignore the first red flags? For me, that question cut right to the chase.

Of course, I still find that no matter how much I analyze it, I don’t think I could have prepared for someone so deceitful. If you had told me these people exist and that they behave like the “guy next door”, I never would have believed it.

Hello, good people! Plowman here checking in and seeing how everyone’s doing.

I don’t want to say I’m ‘getting over the hump’ and I don’t want to say I’m feeling any less angry, but things are becoming a little better now – the operative word being ‘little’. Psychologically, I’m still months or maybe even a year from comtemplating a relationship but it is getting easier to talk to women without bringing up me ex S or retreating into a shell for fear that I’m about to be taken advantage again. The ex S seems to be getting further away from me but at times, I still want to kick the crap out of myself because, in my opinion, she got away with it and her husband put in 6 mos. versus my 10 years and got the prize. It’s been a wild ride, one that I never, ever want to go through again nor see any of us go through again.

Have a great week, everyone and let’s keep our heads held high.

Plowman:

“…her husband put in 6 mos. versus my 10 years and got the prize.”

What prize? Life with a sociopath? Some prize.

You are getting your life back. That’s the prize. Me thinks you need to reframe this issue. 🙂

I was going to reply to AT post from the other day and then read this one.

In a nutshell – I agree with both AT and Donna. It has been 3 years since the bottom fell out. Healing is a process. At the beginning the big question was why me? What did I do wrong? Family and friends told me to drop it, move on. Being the stubborn person I am, I was determined to find out what kind of person would do this to another. I had a wonderful counselor who handed me the book, “The Sociopath Next Door”. Bingo!! That opened the door to a whole new world that I wish I would have known about before. It was hard to wrap my mind around the behavior of these people. Then when I found LF, it opened another world; that there were other people that have been devastated by these people. I was not alone!

Knowledge is powerful, though I will admit that I am saturated by all the reading. I don’t comment much on LF, but I have been reading the posts for over a year. I am trying to wean myself, knowing I can’t dwell on this forever, but every once in awhile I need a booster shot.

I have accepted that my “Bad Man” is what he is, and he will never change. Proof – I tried to warn the last woman I knew of, he explained it away, so she ignored me, and 2 1/2 years later her house is in foreclosure and she has filed bankruptcy; just like I predicted. Now he is on to someone else.

I know I am now in a better place; he was not good for me. I miss the man I thought he was, but I certainly do not miss the man he turned out to be; or the emotion rollcoaster I was on. I am still mourning the “dream”; but the tears no longer come. I was in the relationship for 5 1/2 years, so I am giving myself 5 1/2 years to recoup – I’m over half way there!

For all of you who are in the beginning of your healing or part way though, I want you to know there is a light at the end of the tunnel. It has not been easy. It has been a learning process, especially about me and why I let my boundaries disappear. I have had to refinance my house and I have filed two lawsuits against the BM in an attempt to get some of my money back. (I have seen him 3 different times during the proceedings and now see and hear what I did not see and hear before – bullsh**t.) Things are slowly coming together. Hang in there – time does heal all wounds; and you will be a stonger and wiser person than before.

Getting ready to turn in and call it “another successful S-free day”!

Truebeliever – Tears in my eyes, when I read your comments. I read them twice so they would really sink in. My nature has always been to be there for others and most times it is reciprocated or mutally agreed upon in past relationships that we were just incompatable. This was the first experience I had where it wasnt reciprocated AND it wasnt growing but we were still staying in it. I spiraled in circles trying to understand what was wrong w/me. Tried so hard to “fix” us/him… that I know I almost lost my spiritedness and sense of self. Since I have two checks, I am making a donation to an organization and with the other I am going to treat myself to something special. Thank you for that reminder.

Stargazer – yes, a few months of NC, but a long drawn out year of just texting. I stayed STRONG and never went back upon his numerous suggestive texts and attempts to meet. My friends are all very proud of that, as am I, as well! I will search the article you mentioned. I never thought of it that way, but it really does make sense. And my personality changed toward the end, I was just constantly battling w/my own inner voice telling me to get away. I remember the first red flags, but I had never experienced them before. I confronted him (which I thought meant that I wasnt ignoring the red flags) and he had excuses, etc. But what I did was IGNORE my instincts because to be honest I didnt want it to be true. I fell hard and fast and never before had I done that. EVERY RULE I HAD WENT OUT THE WINDOW! I sometimes cope by telling myself (or maybe fooling myself still) that as horrible as the experience was we both enlightened eachother about good and evil in the world…at a time that we both needed to learn and grow. Perhaps some decide to finally take the path I chose and some continue on a path of self-destruction. But all of us here have chosen to learn the lesson and grow and educate ourselves and others about making better choices in our lives and trusting our own instincts. Im learning that life doesnt always allow us to prepare for our first S/P experience, but we are all now preparing if not prepared ( if we chose to trust our instincts now ) to make sure its our last S/P experience.

Plowman, Im loggin off, and just read your post. Sounds like you too are learning to slowly but surely trust your instincts now and you are more prepared to make sure you never go through that again.

This has been a healing day for me for sure. Thank you all…

Matt.. I thought the exact same thing about “getting the prize” – Plowman you got smarter and he got the “boobie prize” 🙂

EMJ170ORD: I’d like to share what my spiritual adviser wrote me back when I asked him the same question everyone on here is pondering.

********************************************

Answer given me by my spiritual adviser for the question: WHY ME?

But I also understand the need to forgive, to release the offender from responsibility for the way he treated me. I’ve learned an important lesson that Jesus described as follows:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’

But I tell you,
Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, they may be sons of your Father in heaven.”
(Mt 5:43-45)

I have learned to pray for God to bless the person(s)
who abused me, to help him do his/her job well and develop his/her character to be like Jesus.

Pray blessings on the offender.

It’s what my pastor calls “responding in the opposite spirit.” I have discovered that doing so also helps me, because praying for God to bless that person helps me release him from guilt for his abusive behavior.

Any time I sense anger rising up in me toward that person, I immediately pray for God to bless him. Here are some key points:

(1) blessing my offender helps me become like Jesus;

(2) dwelling on my anger and pain strengthens my sinful nature. It’s your choice: you can benefit from your experience and become more like Jesus, or you can allow your experience to make you more ungodly like the people who abused you.

You are not responsible for what those people did to you, but you certainly are responsible for the way you respond.

Peace to your heart and soul as you heal from your heel.

Learnthelesson: Yep, I was nodding reading your post. I too remember when I first let my boundaries slip a little and then a little more to accommodate his inconsistent and bizarre behaviors. I made up all kinds of excuses for him–going through a difficult divorce, has a head injury from fighting in Iraq (poor wounded Iraqi hero….), fighting with the army for his medical discharge….he probably just has a lot on his plate and is out of sorts. He was out of sorts all right. He fabricated the whole story about his head injury and was faking all kinds of bogus symptoms to get out of the army. He was lying about the divorce (there was not divorce). He lied about pretty much everything else. Even after I found out the truth about these things and left him, part of me still wanted to believe he must have had some feelings for me. His lack of shame for what he did to me, his wife, and the army is what drove the nail in the coffin.

Please tell me what stage I’m at. I felt I was moving along quite well with my healing. I stopped obsessing many months ago and didn’t even feel the need to blog here except to drop in once in a while and offer support. Then suddenly, out of the blue, the S appeared on my internet forum (not this one thankfully), and my world came crashing down. That forum was my one release from the stresses in life. It is also where I met him. I thought the army and my friends had successfully driven him off of it. At the same time, I found out that the army probably did not punish him for fraud as I believed they would (my being a key witness in their investigation and all). I am now suddenly thrust back into battle, trying to bring his case to the attention of a higher agency than the army.

I was so hoping he was just out of my life for good. I honestly didn’t even care if he got off without punishment, as long as I didn’t have to hear about it. Out of sight, out of mind. Now he is back playing his games with my internet community and my good friends there. I had to leave. It tears me apart and makes me sick. I don’t want to leave that site. But I can’t be there with him there. I wish there was some other way besides letting him win on this.

What stage would this be? It’s way beyond simple anger. It feels like the stage where I’m ready to go shoot his balls off.

StarG: I think the military is very serious in throwing these characters out of the service. People lives are on the line and they don’t need a superficial jerk in there.

Sit back and watch the court martial.

Peace.

WinE, have you been reading my other posts? I think the army has swept this under the rug for some reason. The sociopath may just be too slick for them. Or maybe he got a lawyer with his hefty salary they pay him to play women and collect snakes. It would be so great if they threw him out without pay. If they did, I could return to my reptile site and hold my head high and expose him with evidence.

star: did you see my comment above regarding the meetup groups? it was just an idea that popped into my head.

No I couldn’t find it. Are you talking about meetup.com? Do you think they have snake lovers groups? That would be awesome. Not the same as the site, but still cool.

star: sorry, I’m a dork, it was on the Healing Part 4 article. I’ll copy and paste it here.

star: There is a web-site for groups of people that want to get together for all sorts of fun stuff, you’ve probably heard of it” meetup.com ” I belong to a couple of groups that are just women and we go to a movie, out to lunch, went to the race track one Friday night” anyway, the point is, you can go to the site and type in your interest and see if there is anyone else in your area interested in snakes or reptiles. My daughter belongs to a group where everyone in the group owns a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel! Or you can start your own group!

Oh wow, I had forgotten all about that. I will DEFINITELY look into that, shabbychic. Thank you so much. Not too many people like snakes. I may have to start a group of which I may be the only member. lol

Haha. If you live in a fairly large city where there is a Zoo… maybe if you hang out at the snake area you can meet the snake keepers and they might know more about the snake community in your area. I just read this back to myself and it sounds hilarious!!

LOL, I was always planning to start a snake commune in the Caribbean and invite all the members of my reptile site. 🙁 Just having a nostalgic moment. With my luck the sociopath would join my meetup group. He only lives an hour away. That would be hilarious in a really tragic way. I wish I could afford to go to the zoo. Our zoo has a great tropical discovery area featuring a giant anaconda and dozens of snakeys!

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