After the sociopath, I still feel numb – what can I do?


Lovefraud recently received the following email from a reader:

It has been about 3 years since I discovered what happened to me. I’ve had no contact with my spaths. Yet I still feel so numb and broken. I feel like I have tried almost everything to get through this dark time. I feel so lost. I feel so robbed of my life and my children have been too. What can I do now? I’m running out of solutions. I don’t want to feel like this anymore…. please suggest something for me.

Many, many Lovefraud readers have had this experience. I know I did.


When you first realize the magnitude of your betrayal by a sociopath, you are overwhelmed. At the very least, the sociopath has deceived and manipulated you. This individual may have also stolen from you, assaulted you, smeared your name and perhaps even tried to kill you.

From the time you discovered what was really going on, each day might have brought shocking new revelations about his or her behavior.

So in addition to coming to grips with what this individual did to you, you likely experienced another major shock to your system. This is it: Evil really does exist.

You may not have believed it before. You may have bought into the cultural myth of “Everybody has good inside.” Now, because of your own experience, you have to admit that some people are rotten to the core. This may totally upend your view of the world.

In short, the impact of a sociopath crashing into your life is so shocking and devastating that you cannot absorb it all. So, as a protective measure, you block your feelings about what has happened. You go numb.

Opening the box

Feeling numb blocks the pain but it also blocks joy and happiness. So although going to numbness is appropriate for a while, it’s not a good place to spend the rest of your life.

So how do you escape feeling numb?

You begin to allow yourself to feel the emotion attached to your experience.

Most likely, you packed all the pain, anger and grief over the sociopath’s exploitation into an tight emotional box that you shoved into a closet deep within you, vowing never to open it.

The only way to get back to your feeling self is to open that box.

It’s okay that you weren’t able to do it previously. When you first learned the truth, you likely needed to deal with all the practical matters associated with sociopathic destruction, such as stabilizing your finances, work, children or housing. Facing these issues could have demanded all of the psychological, emotional and physical energy that you had.

Internal recovery

But perhaps the practical life issues are reasonably stable, and you can now turn to your internal recovery.

You may have been afraid to do it. You may have felt like if you allowed yourself to feel that deep pain, you would start crying and never stop.

But I suggest that you find the courage to open the box. Allow yourself to feel the pain, because by feeling it, you release it.

This will not be pretty. You may find yourself crying uncontrollably, wailing, pounding your fists, collapsing. I recommend that you do this in private, or perhaps with the help of a competent, understanding therapist.

It also will not be fast. You most likely have layers and layers of pain. Some will rise to the top, you will purge, you will feel some relief, and then more pain will rise up. The process will take time.

But releasing the pain enables the emotional wounds to heal. And the healing will restore your sense of vitality and aliveness.

Emotional recovery can be a difficult path to walk. But each step you take is a step towards wholeness and happiness which is much more fulfilling than a life of numbness.



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40 Comments on "After the sociopath, I still feel numb – what can I do?"

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So sorry you’re suffering. “Allow yourself to feel the pain, because by feeling it, you release it.” This statement from Donna is true. Your numbness is natural and serves as a wall between you and your hurt but also innate feelings of well-being, joy and peace which are so life-enhancing.

For me, it has taken about 3-4 years of no contact to finally stop making excuses for the path in my life. So difficult was it for me to allow what I know intellectually to filter to my gut. Finally, I’m beginning to accept the level of sickness and total lack of humanity that constitutes this thing called a sociopath. I have now stopped looking for reasons and excuses.

Letting go is like a death but understand this: He/they were fantasies. They do not exist. They are only skin, bone and hair. Whatever you saw or experienced as positive did *not* exist. They are “Imaginary Lovers.” We fall for them because they seem to good to be true, stimulate your happy hormones but then they let you down. The fantasy remains even though you’re being treated miserably or brutally because you need it. Consider that this individual never existed and let the fantasy go. They are dead.

I have a friend going through this right now and my heart is breaking for her. She is breaking up her 30 yr marriage for someone who has told her to stay with her husband. He plays with her heart here and there by way of innuendo but they have never had more than a few minutes together and he has never said he wants to be with her after the split. My only hope is that she is happy after the split without what appears to be a ‘path in her life and that he was just an excuse for her to get out of an unhappy marriage. If she is truly pinning her hopes on him for her happiness, I foresee a torturous miserable life ahead for her for a good long while. She is so excruciatingly infatuated with what? A smile, a few phone calls, FB exchanges. She is unable to think of anything but him and thinks they will be together. If he were a decent sort, he would let her know that he only wants to be friends and there won’t be a romance. But he is allowing her to pin her hopes on him by being vague and playing with her heart.

Best to you, reader. Remember, you are dealing with sick, emotional dwarves. Do you really want to share your life with individuals who can’t give you anything but a fake high once in awhile. Like heroin, there is nothing in it for the addict but misery and frustration. I wish you the best in your recovery, letting go fully of this fantasy and allowing joy into your life again.

Thank you for posting this. This is just what I needed to read today. I have been doing better since going No Contact with my sociopathic ex-boyfriend. But today I went to unfriend him on FB so he can’t see anything about my life and I won’t see his. It hurt seeing how he removed all of our posts as if I had never existed. But now that we aren’t friends, I won’t be tempted to look at his page anymore.

You are right on about seeing his as a fantasy that NEVER existed. I should picture him as a character in a book. He was never real.

If I had stayed tied up with his drama, I would not be free to meet a REAL man. I am working on myself right now, and it feels good.

Going no contact is the only way to break free. Block him on your phone and email. No texting or meeting “as friends”. This will just draw out the suffering. I read this advice in “Getting Past Your Breakup” – a great book – and it’s been very hard to follow but I am doing it.

Every day that I don’t contact him, I mark an X on my calendar. I am now at 21 days and am going to reward myself when I get to 30 days! I miss his dog and was tempted to ask for a photo of her in the costume I had bought her months ago, but breaking my string of No Contact days wasn’t worth it!!

As a woman with a lifelong interest in psychology, I am doubly prone to wanting to finding reasons and trying to “fix things”. This is a deadly combination.

I went to a retreat with Sandra Brown when I began to realize that the father of my children was a psychopath. It was years after the divorce but he had abused other wives and was still using the children to “get to me”. I confirmed it and began thinking I might have one of the disorders too but Sandra told me it was a common defense mechinism for targets of psychopaths to develop some of the traits for protection. She also said that a real psychopath does not question if they are disordered unless diagnosed. I think she was absolutely correct.

This is a very helpful reference. Thank you

I agree 100% with Sandra. My experience with 6 family members is that they believe they are super-intelligent and a form of super human race. Therefore, just mentioning any form of testing or counseling is usually countered by “you go if you feel you need it but I’m just fine and don’t need it”. I don’t know how you can force testing until AFTER they’ll done a dastardly deed and then it’s court mandated.

Ha. You just described my ex and his family. Ex was ordered 50-50 custody of our son, and to take him to 3 diff types of counseling (joint with each of us, separately, and substance abuse couns). He’s taken him to none, and refused to deliver him to my joint couns with me, and has kept him 100% of the time, brainwashing him. We go to court in a few weeks. Judge gave about 8 orders to him. He’s done zero, and the opposite of all. This should be ‘fun.’

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