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After the sociopath: How do we heal? Part 2-Painful Shock

Imagine a book, a novel, that begins with an explosion on the first page. The explosion disintegrates big things into fragments moving away faster than the eye can follow. There is no way to understand what it means, or know what the world is becoming. The people in the book are either immobilized, their stunned brains on autopilot, trying to gather information. Or they are rushing everywhere, trying to find something to save before the dust even settles. In the background, other people may be fainting or crying. But this book is about the people who are alert, struggling to maintain their identities in a falling-apart world.

This is where traumatic healing begins. The trajectory of healing begins at the point of trauma.

The essence of trauma is loss. We may not understand our trauma as a loss at first. It may feel like a painful blow. Or an experience of confusion or disorientation. Or possibly being stretched beyond our comfort zone, and then beyond. Or we may perceive one type of loss, and then discover a more important loss that only becomes clear later. These reasons are hints of why it takes so long to process certain types of trauma.

The personal stories at Lovefraud give evidence of many types of losses. We have lost money and possessions, jobs and careers, family and friends, years of our lives, physical and mental health. And we are the survivors of relationships with sociopaths. Many of us know someone or know of someone who cannot be here with us, because they gave up on their lives through suicide or got lost in depressions, psychotic breaks or self-destructive behavior.

In some ways, what happened to us is like a situation of unrequited love. We loved someone. They didn’t love us back. It’s a sad, but everyday occurrence. In some ways, it is like an investment that did not work out. Another everyday occurrence. There are certain types of losses that are considered “normal,” expected, and things that people just get over, preferably sooner rather than later. Because they are just part of the randomness of the world that sometimes gives us what we want and sometimes does not. And we are expected to have the everyday skills of dealing with losses and moving on.

But this is not what happened to us, and we know it. We may not know what exactly happened, but we know it was momentous. To us. Because we can’t snap back. Our everyday strategies to minimize losses — saying it didn’t matter, turning our attention to something more positive, making a joke about it, finding some quick fix of our favorite “little drug” to make ourselves feel better — don’t work. We are destabilized at a fundamental level.

What happened?

If asked about what happened to us in a love relationship with a sociopath, most of us would probably sooner or later use the term “betrayal.” Or being conned. Or being used by someone who didn’t care about us. Or being led to believe in a love or partnership that never really existed. Or being targeted for exploitation.

But all of these descriptions of what happened emerge from later thought, after we try to figure it out. To understand what happened at the time, it might be easier to just work with the terms “shock” and “disappointment.”

Like the people in the first chapter of the imaginary book, something happened that simply astonished us. In a bad way. The explosion took place in beliefs that are fundamental to our identity. A destruction of the most basic source of our emotional security — our ideas about ourselves and our world that we take for granted.

Reactions to trauma

Whether or not we consciously grasp the fundamental nature of this trauma, our primitive survival system does. And it reacts instantaneously to restore a semblance of stability so that we can go on. Instantaneous emotional responses fall into two basic categories — expansion and contraction.

Anyone who has ever been attacked by verbal or physical violence is familiar with the “contraction” reaction. There is a feeling of retreating inward and condensing our consciousness to a small, tight, still, watchful point inside us. We shut down emotionally and separate from what is happening to us.

If this state continues, we become split inside ourselves, often at war with ourselves because part of our experience is not acknowledged as part of us. The parts that “don’t count” or “aren’t real” can become internal restrictions on what is safe to remember or feel. The fear of experiencing the trauma becomes converted to alienation, anger and aggressive defense.

The “expansion” reaction is related to awareness that our previous boundaries of identity have been breached and partly demolished. Our relationship to the rest of the world, in we were defined by our boundaries as separate and “owned” by ourselves, becomes diffused. We may initially feel euphoric, “spacy” feelings as endorphins flood our brain to counteract pain. Our sudden difficulty in determining where we end and the outside world begins may be perceived as ”˜destiny” feelings of being chosen or that we belong in the abusive drama.

If this goes on, our separate feelings, values and desires may become increasingly difficult to identify, articulate or defend. In our dealings with external reality we may becoming increasingly ungrounded, “fleeing to higher ground” where we cling to high moral or spiritual principles with a diminished ability to recognize or integrate information that does not match our view of life as it should be. Except for these principles, we may become increasingly dependent on others for information about who we are or our role in relationships or the world at large.

One of the reasons that relationship experts strongly suggest terminating a relationship in which we are shocked and disappointed more than once, is that each time this happens, a trauma occurs. They may be relatively small traumas, and we may think we are managing them. But these little explosions can do more than hurt our feelings. If we internalize their implications about who we are or our role in the world, they literally undermine the structure of our identity. Whether we expand or contract in response, we are slipping farther away from an open, healthy understanding of ourselves as separate, self-governed beings with full use of our emotional resources.

These instantaneous reactions occur at a deep layer of consciousness, where we may not be aware of them. Even though we are adults who, in reality, are free to act on our circumstances and to choose the meaning we ultimately assign to a trauma, these first reactions are the equivalent of the emergency workers who rush to the scene of a fire, extinguishing it no matter what kind of damage they do to the structure in order to stop the blaze. They provide temporary re-wiring to help us get through the immediate disorientation. Later comes the clean-up and rebuilding.

Why we are vulnerable

If we have early history of trauma, as many victims of sociopaths do, that emergency rewiring may already exist as a result of earlier events when our higher levels of thinking were not yet developed. That primitive adaptive wiring may still be in use, because we did not have the independent circumstances that enabled us to act freely or assign our own meaning without concern about outside influences. First-response emergency reactions may still be embedded as the “best response” in the working structures of our personalities, coloring our fundamental views of our position in the world and our life strategies.

The model of trauma response that I am describing to you is based on a synthesis of early childhood development theory, neurological research, and theories about the environmental basis of personality disorders. It is also the beginning of the entire model of grief processing, where the nature of the challenge that we face is to learn something.

In the event of trauma, the first thing that we learn is that we are surprised and disappointed. The context of this learning is that something happens from outside of us that challenges our beliefs about who we are and our role in the world. Throughout our entire life, every person goes through these challenges. It is part of growing up and maturing as a human being in this world.

However, certain types of challenges are especially painful and difficult to process at any age, no matter what internal resources we may have. The characteristics of these events include:

1. Disrespecting — we are not recognized as worth caring about

2. Devaluing — we are used for someone else’s purposes or experience a “force of nature” event, and therefore not separate or special

3. Abandoning — our world does not prevent this from happening

One of the reasons that an understanding of early childhood development is so important to this model is the concept of “good enough parenting.” The infancy and early childhood years are the period in which we separate and develop a separate identity from the “source of all good,” our mothers or surrogate mothers. In developing this separate identity, we also learn freedom to explore and develop independent knowledge and skills.

Ultimately, we come to recognize too that we are not the whole world. And that we live with people whose feelings and intentions are not always the same as ours, as well as material circumstances — like traffic, the force of gravity and things that are not good to eat — that limit what we can do without damage to ourselves.

If we make it through the “good enough parenting” successfully, the “source of all good” that was in the beginning survives in our view of the world and our perceptions of ourselves as part of it. We learn that we have the power to transform vision to reality through our own efforts. Although our world places limits upon us, sometimes discovered in pain, our foundational belief is that we live in an essentially loving and supportive place. The style of nurture we receive is internalized to become skills of comforting ourselves after an unexpected disappointment, extracting meaning that empowers to better navigate the world, and moving on to new goals.

Unprocessed trauma — that is trauma that is not treated with comfort and support of learning and moving on — literally stops that developmental process. Or throws us back into regression, undoing what we may have already learned. If we don’t have the internalized skills of “good enough parenting” a resource, for whatever reason, our built-in need to complete this developmental “thread” of growing up makes us like homing devices seeking the missing pieces to complete it.

Seeking security. Seeking encouragement and support. Seeking freedom to act without risk of abandonment. Seeking emotional comfort. Repetitively seeking the same missing elements and recreating the same relationship patterns as we try to “make right” something that failed in our histories.

Fast healing

In trauma at the identity level, there is only one way to resolve it immediately. That is to fully recognize that the “problem” is external. To activate self-comforting mechanisms to soothe the pain of the shocking disappointment. To extract meaning from the event that empowers us to better navigate the world. And to move on.

These skills are what we see in people who react quickly to everyday traumas, who recognize threats to their wellbeing or early hints of dysfunction in systems or relationships. These are people who respond with apparent coolness, clarity or rationality to suffering around them, or to other people’s projection of meaning upon them. They are centered in their own identity maintenance processes. It occurs naturally for them. Because they are compassionate with themselves, they have no lack of compassion for others. But they also have perspective about what is “about them” and what isn’t.

All of this depends on unshakable belief that the world, including ourselves, is essentially a benevolent place. As all of us know, the learning opportunities of life become increasingly challenging. As our lives progress, we invest ourselves in relationships, careers, children and possessions. Every life includes losses and failures. The more we have invested, the more we believe that something is part of our identity, the more painful a loss or failure is. Every life includes huge challenges to our beliefs that we can survive, that we are good people in a good world, that suffering and pain are the exception rather than the rule.

Unmanageable trauma

Beyond the characteristics of particularly painful and difficult-to-process trauma noted above, there are certain circumstances that magnify the challenge we face.

1. The sense that we have been targeted

2. The intensity or scope of the loss

3. The persistence or repeated nature of the trauma

Of these, the last one is the most debilitating. If we have a pre-existing weakness in our trauma-processing skills, do not respond quickly as we recognize a threat to our wellbeing or cannot escape from the situation for some reason, repeated and continuing identity trauma has the effect of cumulatively weakening both the foundation beliefs of our identity and our ability to process loss.

This is the true risk in an ongoing relationship with a sociopath or with anyone who threatens our core beliefs about the essentially benevolent nature of our identity or our world. Many of us make choices to be educated in ways that challenge our beliefs. Attending a philosophy class or learning to ski or starting our own businesses are all equivalent to volunteering for significant learning experiences that we can expect to push us beyond our comfort zones. But we go into them voluntarily, bringing our identity maintenance skills with us, and have the intention of consciously integrating what we learn into who we are.

A relationship with a sociopath is different. The learning challenges we face in the experience are completely different from what we volunteered for.

Not one word of this piece has discussed the sociopath’s characteristic behaviors. This will be discussed in later parts. But from the perspective of our own wellbeing, in particular our healthy maintenance of our identities and our relationship with the world at large, a relationship with a sociopath subjects us to a series of traumatic blows that become more and more difficult to process, and that essentially cultivate diffusion of identity for the sociopath’s purposes.

The next step of healing

Just as the first step of healing occurs while we are “in” the trauma, the second step is likely to begin when we are still in the relationship. Either literally involved with the sociopath as our partner in life, or still attached emotionally to the sociopath with hope for a good resolution. However it also includes internal activities of trying to reframe the situation intellectually, because its apparent meaning is too threatening to our beliefs about our identity and the nature of the world.

This next stage is when we first begin to process beyond the emergency reactions. In the model I am presenting to you, it incorporates both of the “denial” and “bargaining” stages of the Kubler-Ross grief model.

Until then, Namaste. The deep secure wisdom in me salutes the deep secure wisdom in you.

Kathy

P.S. Here’s a fragment from one of my poems, written in the midst of my recovery process.

They say you can’t learn
until you lose what you love.
They say you can’t get there
until you give up trying.
They say that the way
is through flinging yourself
toward all you ever wanted and loss
that breaks your heart,
dries your spirit to jerking sinew,
and then burns your hope
on the sidewalk in front of you.
They say, through all the waiting silence
you just don’t hear, that it’s not until
nothing is there in the mirror
but a monkey playing its toy violin
that you see
with eyes like windows into another country.
That you see.



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258 Comments on "After the sociopath: How do we heal? Part 2-Painful Shock"

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Dear Kathy,

An excellent article. Not just applicable to the psychopathic trauma either, but to each kind of trauma. I could almost see the trauma of the plane crash that killed my husband and burned my son and 2 friends severely. Your descriptions of the internal reactions mirrored mine exactly.

Hello Kathy – I always enjoy your articles and posts, this one included. Thank you!

I’m wonder about the term “expansion” that you used. This is related to awareness that our previous boundaries of identity have been breached and partly demolished. Our relationship to the rest of the world, in we were defined by our boundaries as separate and “owned” by ourselves, becomes diffused.

This caught my eye, but I’m not quite sure I get it. I know that my ex S pushed very hard in the beginning for me to adjust my boundaries (to merge with him) and I did. I totally let him in and made myself completely vulnerable. Are these the boundaries you are talking about.

After I threw him out (which he manipulated – truth is he left), I had almost two months of walking around my house saying “What happened here? What the hell happened here?” I was utterly in shock and just couldn’t understand what happened. I had no “schema” for this type of relationship hardwired or learned. I was shocked and felt like I couldn’t even cognitively process what had happened. It was beyond my understanding and comprehension. There was no way that it could have happened – impossible, but it did.

Is that related, in anyway, to what you were talking about?

kathleen Hawk – Thanks for the article. I have gone through so many stages of trauma, loss, grief, anger brought on by my relationship with a S, I have processed the pain, I know I was exploited and victimized. But at the age of 54 I can no longer ignore the truth of my childhood. I have always said that I can look around and find someone in worse shape than me, there are children abused and neglected everywhere, so I should just be grateful for what I have and my parent’s did the best they could. They didn’t burn me with cigarettes or tie me to a bed for years, but damage was done and until I recognize and try somehow to repare that damaged child I can’t move forward.

I don’t describe my “separation” from a sociopath as anything as benign as divorce, separation, split, or etc. When referring to that time in my life it is, “When my life shattered, when everything exploded, after my nuclear holocaust…”

One morning I got up and went to work like normal and by that evening I KNEW everything that I thought my life had been for 8yrs was a lie. Everything that had ever given me pause with him became crystal clear. Quite simply, everything I knew, I didn’t. My life had been a farce, a mirage…and it was obliterated. (my story=x’s betrayal involved money, infidelity, claims of higher education, being a SEAL, secrecy, chaos, drama and all the regulars from the S playbook. He had also been sexually abusing my young daughter and running the S playbook on her too. She had to go through all of this confusion and betrayal too. Sigh.)

The pain of discovery didn’t even arrive right away. I was shocked, numb, and confused. I couldn’t make a grocery list because I couldn’t “think” of anything for dinner. I couldn’t make the smallest of decisions. I ran on autopilot. It was almost an out of body experience. I was THERE, but it was like I was standing in the corner, watching me going through the motions. And when I felt anything, I felt empty. Lost and empty.

Kathleen, I went looking for more info on the “good enough parenting.” Thanks.

Dear Glinda,

“Good Enough Parenting” has become a buzz term for parenting in the “real” world, where none of us are perfect. In a nutshell, it’s about prioritizing. You give your kids what they really need, (Love, discipline, education and adequate food/shelter/cloths/health care). You don’t worry much about a clean house, impressing others or winning at competitive parenting games.

One of the concepts that is integral to Good Enough Parenting is the quality of genuine empathy for your child. This is not to be confused with projecting your own childhood needs or personality on the child. You must know your child well enough to understand their TRUE perspective. When you do this, you pick up on subtle emotional cues and are able to be appropriately responsive.

Here’s an example of failure to correctly discern someone’s genuine perspective: I am cultivating a closer friendship with and acquaintance. She and her pre-teen daughter have seemed glum to me recently. I took her aside and asked her if something is wrong. She insists nothing is, and I believe her. She’s just not the bouncy, vivacious type. I’m going to have to know her better in order to correctly gauge her moods.

DEar Kathy,

The above post is GREAT and explains a great many things about our NEEDS as humans (the naked ape) and BTW the book “The Naked Ape” is another great book from years ago about how we (humans) are as primates, not as “civilized” beings. Some good insights from that book on our body language and our primal needs.

From reading your post above, it reinforces some things that in the past I “knew” but didn’t APPLY to myself.

I know that for any “choice” we make, or any “exchange” we give up one thing for another. It is just like when we go to a store and we see an item we want to buy, we “give up” the money which could be used for a different purchase, so if we go and have X amount of $ to spend, we can buy the RED SHOES or the BLUE SHOES but not both. Or we can buy the PINK Shoes AND the GREEN shoes BOTH. We have to make the choices.

Our resources (besides money) of time, effort, energy, etc. are also LIMITED and if we spend the day reading, we cannot also spend the day running. Or we can choose to spend half the day reading and half the day running, but we have to allocate our energy and time in some manner of choosing what is important to us, or compromise some.

I want to spend the day with you. I don’t feel like running. You want to spend the day running. so there are several options, depending on our relationship in how to structure that day. I can run half the day with you (even though I don’t like it) or you can give up the entire day and be with me sitting and talking when you would rather be running. etc etc. Or, I can sit all day and read, and you can run all day. How each of us feels about the compromise or lack of it is up to us as individuals.

When I was teaching my sons about how to budget money, I turned it into a “time” thing. I make $5 per hour. Therefore if I spend $10 I am “spending” 2 hours of my time. Do I want the object I am buying enough to spend 2 hours of my time at my job to acquire it?

If I buy the radio, I will not have enough money to pay the electric bill when it comes due. If I save the money for the electric bill, I will not have money to buy the thing I WANT, because I spent the money on things I NEED.

My son C is quite good at budgeting his funds. Son P just started stealing! LOL

A few years ago before my husband died, I made a deliberate decision to budget my TIME vs MONEY in a different way. I took a job that I worked only 2 days a week, but allowed me to have insurance and 2/3 the previous salary I had had working 60 hours a week.

Now, I was home M-F and worked only saturday and sunday. In order to do this , I had to give up the weekend living history events that I cared about very much, but I decided that spending time with my husband and son D and with my dogs and animals was more important to me than the extra 1/3$ in salary. As it turned out, 6 months later my stepfather got diagnosed with cancer (which wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t been able to spend more time with him than I had before I changed jobs as I picked up on his early symptoms that he had been ignoring) it also gave me time to go to his physician visits, time to spend quality time with him, time to grieve with him, etc. The job change had also given me the last year and a half with my huband evry morning M-F fixing breakfast for him and his flight students, and our son, time to train my dogs, etc that I hadn’t had before. It lowered my stress level and no matter how bad a weekend I might have had at work, my son D or my husband would listen and then put their arm around me and say “Well, you don’t have to go back for 5 more days.”

Looking back at that decision to cut down to 2 days a week, I think it was one of the smartest moves I ever made in my life and I am SO glad I got to spend that last year and a half with my husband and my step-father. I also at the same time made a deliberate and thought out decision to spend more time with those I truly felt close to and to let other more casual friendships “drift” away. I also don’t regret that decision in the least either. Spending more time with the ones that are really CLOSE to me is much more meaningful than spending time with people I am only superfiscially attached to.

I literally “quit taking applications for friendship” for a year or so there, and if I met new people who “applied” for a “close friendship” I was nice but rejected their offers because it took away time I wanted to spend with those I LOVED.

IN taking a “business-like” approach to meeting our needs, and looking at what works and what doesn’t (and actually APPLYING what we know to our lives) I think we can successfully meet our needs for love, closeness, recognition, and all the other basic needs for a satisfying life.

This allowed me to spend more TIME with my family

Thanx Kathleen.

Sorry I confused matters.

Kathy,

I think putting our thinking, reasoning, etc. into words to demonstrate them to others also helps us to rethink these things ourselves and shoot holes in them if we find holes that weren’t well thought out.

I used to tutor various classes in the hard sciences, and I did more and better learning than most of my students (although they were generally very successful as well.)

When teaching, I try to use as many of the student’s senses as possible; hearing, sight, touch and taste if applicable. Since on LF we don’t have hearing and touch or taste, I think the next best thing here is that people can look at DIFFERENT angles of each topic. And just as some people see “forgiveness” one way and some another, by “defending” my perceptions, it makes me THINK long and hard about my own definition, and I may change it, rethink it, or see a different perspective, just as you did about the “good enough parenting” concept.

Words are symbols, especially the written word, and don’t have the exact same meaning from one person to another. Especially the higher conceptual words. Some words, too, in say English have ONE word (depending on the context) that may have 100 different meanings, like the word “love” for instance.

I’m not sure if it is true or not, but supposedly, the Inuit have 100 different words for “snow”—where we have only one with modifiers like “wet” “dry” or “powder.” I know when I was in South Africa the native Bantu had words for things that we would take 20 words to describe in English and still not be as specific as their word was for that thing.

Add in the differences in words, the differences in customs, and even the different interpretations of what’s “right” and “wrong” and so we have to overcome many hurdles in communicating with each other here. Add in the emotional burdens on our individual beliefs and it complicates the matter even more.

It amazes me how little “flamming” and crap goes on here on LF. How accepting of each other and our differences, that we have as a group. How supportive, empathetic and sympathetic the LF bloggers are to each other. It gives me a warm feeling that makes me want to hug each of you in one great big ((((((“group hug”)))))) I have come to “know” you by your writings and your personalities and opinions, your likes and dislikes and in general as special individuals. Thanks very much to you all for letting me share your journey and for the wisdom that you have all imparted to me. I have surely gained 100X more than I have ever given here. God bless you all!

hi all,
well, he’s getting really desperate. NC is working.
spath-boy called again today. didn’t even bother to block is cell number since i NEVER answer when he calls blocked. left message: ”hi, it’s me. listen, you know i didn’t mean my last message. but i really need you to call me. it’s not about anything going on with me, but i have to pass something by you and i really need to talk with you. so as soon as you get my message(!), call me back. and i really want you to know i hope everything is fine with you. i’m doing great and i hope you are too … i REALLY mean that! okay, call me back.”
just like nothing ever happened!!!!
what the hell?
as my mom said, ”you can be the FIRST woman to reject him. the FIRST to tell him NO! the FIRST to put him in his place.” i don’t always get along with my mom, but wiser words were never spoken. i hold on to this when i feel weak.
NC works! he’s squirming. if he’s so ‘great’ why is he calling ME. NOTHING he can possibly say will make me feel anything but AWFUL.
his call upset me. it made me curious to see what he wanted. it made me furious. but it also made me KNOW he is miserable. i WIN!!!
towanda!!
(okay, so there’s a littttle part of me that is DYING to hear what he has to say. i will boink her now. are you there OX?)

LIG, LOL, I remember I started avoiding my S’s calls for periods of time when I started doubting him. It was really the only time I felt a sense of empowerment with him. I couldn’t get a solid answer out of him or make him follow through on his promises. The only power I had was to stop returning his calls. It drove him nuts but made me feel so much better. Really when someone treats you so badly, what is there to say to them? I’m sure if your ex has something he desperately wanted to say to you, he would leave the information on your voice mail and not try to manipulate you into calling him back. He would respect your desire to make a clean break. What he is doing is really sick. I wonder if his gf knows? If he continues to harass you, you might just let him know that if he ever calls you again, you will let his gf know he is harassing you. That should shut him up. Worked for me. Not only did my ex stop emailing me, but he blocked my emails the very next day.

LIG, (continued) I think your ex knows you have a soft spot for him still and he is trying to expoit that to see if he can play you a little more. I wonder if you have ever made it clear to him that you don’t want to ever hear from him again?

Dear LIG,

Yes, I am checking back every so often, and I usually don’t allow folks to borrow my skillet to BOINK themselves, but you can for that one! LOL I do know what you mean thoUgh, the urge to be curious is sometimes overwhelming, but Star is right, it is MORE OF THE SAME, DIFFERENT DAY.

At the risk of sounding like a bossy old witch, (actually that’s what I am! LOL) I suggest that you block him calling you. The fact that you are curious about what he has to say (even though you know:SAM OLD CRAP) means to me that you are in some danger of one way or another getting a STRESS JOLT. To me NC means NO, nada, zip, zero, none, absolutely NONE contact. EVERY Time I have broken that rule, even for a “good reason” it has bitten me in the arse EVERY TIME, so my not so humble suggestion is GO NC FOR REAL, 100%. (((hugs))))

Kathy,

First off I don’t think there has been a “lack of response” here on this article. The rhythum of the postings varies from day to day and sometimes during the week postings will be “slow.”

I got a LOT out of the article. I read it and started to post a LONG reply to it, then got it about half done and deleted it before I hit send.

Your sister is right that the way it is written doesn’t “invite” feed back, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t INTERNALIZE a LOT of the article, because I sure did. In fact, as I read it, it resionated in me on several events and several levels. I actually got tears in my eyes as I read it the first time.

Sometimes articles don’t NEED to have a lot of feed back to do a lot of healing and give insights.

I too tend to be everyone’s “GReat Aunt HIlda” and sound like I am preaching from a podium. I think part of it is our age. LOL Most folks on this blog know me well enough to know that that’s “just me” and take me with a grain or two of salt. LOL

Don’t be so “up tight” about how people perceive you (that’s the skillet calling the pot black) here or anywhere else for that matter. Ever siince you were posting under the old pseudo I enjoyed every post you made, they were literate and well thought out showing good sense. I have never felt you were “holier than thou” or preachy or over bearing with your advice. So, that said, give me back my skillet and quit boinking yourself! ((((hugs)))))

ox: hooooold on there, gal. it is pure, unadulterated (or in his case, un-adultery!) NC …
he has no idea if he’s reaching me. far as he knows i’m a dead woman with a voicemail. i ain’t gonna call him. my curiousity is FAR outweighed by my determination to never let him hear my voice again!
i can’t change my phone number; it is out there in every corner of my life — school, work, family, friends, etc. etc. — and him calling me will not get me to call him back. and as far as i know you can’t block one person from a cell.
my big fear is that i will run into him (saw him last week from afar — he didn’t see me — and i was RUINED (crying, missing him, etc) for four days!) but i got over it and the phone call today just made me rip-roaring furious. sure, there are lots of emotions around him still (after 20+ years), but my mom’s observation keeps me going.
it’s good to know you’re there with the skillet.
i’m good. you’re a sweetie.

Dear LIG,

LOL ROTFLMAO!!! I’m glad that you are total NC with the a$$, and that you won’t call him back no matter what, and that he can’t know if he’s reached you or not. Glad he didn’t see you fro afar or anyother way either for that matter.

I think for me at least it is the SUDDEN seeing them (my XBF oonce and mom once) that is the upsetting factor. My brain just didn’t have time to “engage”–it was like “stage fright” almost. I can stand in from of 1000 people in public and speak without getting “nervous” but I do remember what it was like when I was first doing public speaking and my stomach would knot and I would start to shake. It was sort of like that.

Then pissed, then washed out and wrung out from the stress. It’s getting better and the “down” times are less and last less time than they used to…so it is “progress” at least LOL (((hugs))))

hugs right back, ox.

star: i wrote you two long missives thanking you for your comments, but lost both at the end. my computer is WHACKED!
i’m on percosets right now, so i ain’t gonna try again, but thanks chicklet … i really appreciated your input!

interesting kathleen about the threats being the only type of communication he understood.

threats only garnered me a multitude of pre-epmtive bludgeoning.
depending on the power imbalance, threats can get you smashed into dust…at least, in my experience.

A threat is finally what got rid of my ex S in the end – the threat that I would reveal him to his current girlfriend(s). Also, I finally changed my phone number.

I dragged my feet on that because like you, LIG, I used my number for many facets of my life. Most notably my private practice professional number. And I also didn’t want to change it because I didn’t want to lose one more thing or inconvenience myself any more.

But then, in the end, I had to change it. It was just too much of an open conduit for him to reach me. Even if I didn’t answer (and I never would), just the fact that he was calling me or texting me got me all jazzed up….. I hated him for doing so yet also wanted him to do so, so that I could ignore/reject him. But it was all a hook.

Finally changing it was a big relief. A sad relief, but a good one. I’m not saying you should change yours, but you may have to. I REALLY didn’t want to – but it ended up being for the best.

HH – It was a huge inconvience for me to change number’s. Was not an easy thing to do, as I was sitting next to the phone waiting for him to call and that kept me from letting go, but I changed numbers 2 weeks after his last discard as i knew I would fall for his lie’s again. I think that shocked him that I could do that, He showed up at my door asking why I changed my number’s, the last few times he came here I did not open the door. He will never know what harm being with him did to me, he will never know how hard it was to NOT open that door and he will never know the new person that I am.

Hello All:

The S/P didn’t call, didn’t stalk, didn’t say one damn thing. I left on a business trip with a suitcase and $123 and a airline ticket the client provided. I didn’t have enough money to get home. He never once called.

Why didn’t I call him? Take a guess! I saw the depths of evil, and I knew my life was at risk, and I had no reinforcements, no reserves, no backup, no home . . .

Where I was lucky is that I also had NO CONTACT!! Because I absolutely “got it” as to what a demonic force he was in this lifetime.

And up until just about the last gasp he played the part of the perfect love relationship.

I offer this because it is also a true story about one psychopath’s behavior. I’ve had stalkers before. This one was very different, and perhaps more deadly because “who would ever suspect.”

I’m just catching up on today’s posts. Lots of interesting back-and-forth, with plenty of insight and support all ’round.

Because my experience was so different from most, apparently, my perspective is going to be a little different as well. But there is no doubt about the degree of psychopathy of this individual: he hits all the markers, no matter which clinical definition you want to go with.

And all the stories help in this challenging process of healing. I learn and take comfort from everyone here.

“Because I absolutely “got it” as to what a demonic force he was in this lifetime.” “And up until just about the last gasp he played the part of the perfect love relationship” powerful insight Rune

Henry & KH: This S/P was not motivated by greed. I mistakenly thought that I had some power because I was (his words) “the Golden Goose.” Not so. He actively worked and succeeded in destroying my business, livelihood, source of funds, everything.

I believe it is VERY important to not be fooled into thinking you can control one of these. I’m glad you took him off your life insurance policy. I wouldn’t think that would necessarily protect you if he was an S/P who scored a little higher in certain traits.

Stunned: with this S/P, a threat from me (of even the teeniest sort) gave him a handle on me. He’d then know what upset me, and he’d WORK to ENSURE that I got a whole lot more of what upset me, while he pretended he had nothing to do with engineering it.

Henry–you said “he will never know the new person that I am”

That’s right. But it’s not a sad thing. Now that you are a new person, you’re living/vibrating at a higher frequency and can meet other people equal to the new you!! I think that’s a really good thing.

Kathy,

You said it so well… something happened to us but we aren’t sure what.

That is exactly what I was trying to figure out from the moment I got on the plane to leave until I found LF more than a year later.

I still can’t describe it concisely to people. I have resorted to “I had a stalker.” People get that right away. I rarely talk about it but when I need to package it up neatly and feel understood quickly, “stalker” does the trick.

Aloha

KH: You gave me a wonderful response and the answers are, no I have no resources, yes I tried. Every effort I made to ask for help backfired in some fashion.

Two years ago, knowing I was dealing with someone who had “left bodies behind” (I had no idea how close I was to the truth!) through his weird and ungrounded “business ideas,” I tried to have an “intervention” with the aid of someone I knew the S/P liked who I also (thought I . . . ) had reason to trust. He sat through the whole 8 hours or so while I named bizarre action after strange venture after unlikely repeated destructive behavior (overspending and bounced checks). (I actually thought he was bipolar and really out of touch.) He looked like a man in pain. At the end, some energy leaped up out of him — to me it felt like grief, remorse, love . . . call it whatever you like. I thought that somehow I had gotten through to him. Of course he held me that night, patting his shoulder so I would rest my head “just there,” as he wrapped his arms around me. That was how we slept every night. Eighteen months.

Several weeks later he got up to an early alarm. I asked why. He said, “Busy, busy. Got things to do.” When I got up an hour later, the coffee pot was still warm, but the house was empty in the way that says something more is missing than just the gym bag and the guy. I started a search and found receipts for $5000 course materials put on by scam artists. I found his hidden worksheets showing that he was trying to take a crash course in what I had learned in 10 years in business. When he had closed the door to his office, he had been cooking up even more destruction. God only knows where he got the new thousands of dollars he was shredding in his latest pointless exercise. He had flown to LA for a 3-day workshop that he attended for 1 1/2 days because he had to get back to pick up his children for visitation. He never told me anything about where he went to; I figured it out from the receipts.

Three days later I walked out with my suitcase to go on my business trip. I had spent 15 minutes asking him “Why?” and I listed a litany of space he had coopted, the fact that he was on the phone ordering expensive gourmet food, while I had no money, etc., etc. He looked at me very directly and said, “Maybe you should have made better decisions.”

I had planned to be back within a week. I started to go into shock as I processed all the inexplicable events. Just getting away from him and his words, his influence, gave me space so that I felt like my own mind was coming back. I had suspected that he was capable of some strange mind influence, perhaps from his sales training. I have found reputable research that suggests this is true.

It was more than a month later when I was able to even re-enter the state. I went to the police: “well, we can do a civil standby, but we can only give you 15 minutes. And if he says anything is his, you can’t take it.” I had furnished the whole house: 5000 square feet. My clothes, antiques, oriental rugs, books, writing, . . . I went to social services to try to undo my unwitting support of him when he’d been charged with molesting one of his children. Knowing what I knew then, I knew he was fully capable of doing what he’d been accused of. Social services didn’t care — the case was closed. I tried the DA: “This is a civil case.” (There certainly was nothing CIVIL about it!) I tried the battered women’s shelter: “Have you tried talking with him?” I tried a restraining order: “Did he rape you?” the judge says. “Every moment of every day that he lied to me like that,” I tried to explain.

I was living in motel after motel. 11:00 a.m. is another trauma moment in every day for me. Every effort I made to try to recover somehow fell apart. It was like the little S/Ps showed up to take advantage of what was left. I ran into a woman who worked out at the same gym. She said she had seen him about the middle of March, a week or so after I had left, and she’d asked about me. He had responded with a big grin (his trademark grin, I’m sure). “Oh, we’re not together anymore!” he had said, all bright and happy, as she described it. While living in the house that had my (and my parents) money in it: down payment, monthly payments, new appliances, etc., etc., sleeping on my sheets, using my coffee mugs, with coffee I had bought . . . My clothes, my shoes, my . . .

In some way it’s not even about the things, it’s about how every moment of every day is laced with poison because I’m trying to figure out how to survive, while he blissfully defrauds others from the stage that I built. And I have to figure out every moment the tiniest elements of survival. I’m in my vehicle. I don’t face 11:00 a.m. checkout, but I do want to get to McDonalds for the $3.13 breakfast. (They have a clean bathroom.) I run the engine to charge up the battery to run a small heater, but the exhaust system needs repair and I’m breathing fumes.

The “interventionist” — a man of God — became another predator in yet another chapter of the protracted death of my business. The S/P was a leader in AA. My parents resources were also devastated. Only in the past several months have they realized that I did not engineer this myself to destroy them. They have stopped screaming at me, and are trying to help with the little things they can do. No I can’t live there — no room, community covenants, my battered little van.

I was in the parking lot of the grocery store down the street from MY house a few nights ago. I started to shake at the thought of walking in for just one or two things. If I had seen him, I don’t know what I would have done.

In many ways I’m blessed to have a spiritual underpinning and an intellect to sustain me. But that doesn’t give me a paycheck, hot-and-cold running water. I’m also blessed to have my computer and a wifi location. Unless I told you all this, how would you know?

No I don’t have “muscle” I can bring in on this. Too many years as a single mom, everything I had going into just working and being there for my kid. The S/P picked me very, very well. The only way to go after him to get MY just due is with plenty of reinforcements and heavy artillery (so to speak), and he did a great job of ensuring I had no resources to do that.

Bernie Madoff has done me one huge favor. I now can now say, “This guy was really likable, really believable, just like Bernie Madoff.” And people start to understand how someone like me could have been taken like this. What they don’t get is the rape of it.

When I rise out of my misery, I know that there are others like me who also need help. Devastation is devastation. It doesn’t have to be as extreme as this to be a complete destruction of someone’s life.

We deserve to have help, and we deserve to have some recourse. I have not been able to find it. I wonder if Bernie’s social contribution may be that people will finally understand that these are NOT normal people, and normal avenues of recovery or retribution just do not apply.

Dear Aloha,

Yes, the “I had a stalker” routine does “explain” things for a while to folks that you don’t want to go into any deeper explaination with, and it works. they can “get that”—

Very good article. It speaks to my inner child that went thru such turmoil, abandonment and rejection from my father. I now carry it with me into my adult life (unfortunately). I’m not sure that this is the place to ask; but I’ve been apart from my S for almost six months altho we had contact by phone until a few weeks ago when I found out he had moved in with another woman. He has now filed a complaint against me with the dept I work for (a trumped up charge) so I am now being investigated. Anyone ever have the S come back and do something to them like this?

I was betrayed. My generosity was used. My emotions were exploited.

For me, there was one single moment of betrayal — the details still too painful to recall — when he was laid bare before me for all he was and for all he was not.

That was the end, the breaking point, the moment of realization.

I tend to be a fixer and a problem solver but I save myself from this by telling myself that I cannot fix what I did not break.

Some one above stated that you may have “cared for him . . . better than you cared for yourself.” I did.

Now I try to accept the calm that comes from protecting myself.

I still experience an inclination to contact him when I feel lonely or when I feel empty or even bored.

Then I read LoveFraud to sober me.

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