By | October 26, 2015 40 Comments

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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Wow, I logged on here today exactly for this reason. Thanks for posting. I was going to ask those of you with past experience, how you dealt with this:

Nearly 3 years after I ended a 26-year marriage to a raging sociopath, I met someone who totally blew me away. I had feared that I’d never feel that great love and simpatico that I had with the (utterly fake) ex. But here I did. We were a better match than anyone I’d ever dated in my 51 years.

I knew he had some issues (abusive mother), but he did not show the signs of a Soc, and I thought things were going to work. Then suddenly, it was done. He ended it cruelly. Altho I was heartbroken, I was mostly disillusioned that there seem to be no sane men. He clearly had way more “issues” than I realized.

After ending the Soc marriage, I was not hopeless and jaded. I felt positive, and expectant. Now, I feel numb and hopeless about another relationship. I no longer have ANY interest, because I have no trust in any sanity in men. I mean, I know a few sane, really good ones…. but not many…




Thank you for sharing. I am so sorry you’ve encountered this experience and such hopelessness. I can identify, at least somewhat.

I too, got out of a marraige and was not hopeless, although I admit I was jaded. I was with my ex husband for only 6 years so nothing compared to yours. However, I ended up with not only one but two socio men following. I took care of myself after my divorce. I was devastated yet I knew it was a good thing. I stayed single for 5 yrs before I met my first sociopath. Or so I thought.

Going through all of this has been an eye opener for me. I’ve discovered so many things about myself. It wasn’t until my break up with my last spath ex that it all hit me, I attribute a lot of my understanding and growth to this site.

I always thought I loved myself and that I had healed from my past. I now know how vulnerable I was (and still am). I recognize now that I lacked boundaries and didn’t truly love myself or have the confidence I needed, even before I got married. I also now know that my ex husband wasn’t the great guy he seemed at the time. I didn’t put the pieces together until I truly began to heal.

I believed in such a life ahead of me after divorce. I could’ve never imagined I’d be on this place. I now know I’m here because I never really looked within after divorce (I thought I did) and didn’t heal as I thought I had. And trust me, I did so much to improve myself! I just wasn’t tapped into the fact that I still had so much to learn about myself.

I’m aware now that my past experiences with these men is a gift. So far a painful gift. I still hurt so much sometimes. Yet I feel like I know me for the first time ever. I’m able to set bounderies. I surround myself with healthy people. I’m able to see who’s healthy or not and I pay attention to how people make me feel before letting them close. I’m starting to trust my gut and it’s become my best friend. Now that I listen to my gut it hasn’t steered me wrong.

That said, I still have my moments. I am still on this roller-coaster ride of the chaos that has been bestowed upon me. I’m looking forward to brighter days.

Please know you’re not alone in this. You feel hopeless because your soul has been robbed. It gets better in time. I encourage you to look into your past and try to figure out what lurks there. It sucks but it’s worth it.

I just hope we can both move forward and fully trust again someday…

As for sane men, try to keep in mind your ex, if he is in fact a narc/spath, may absolutely be sane. These people are usually not “crazy”. Crazy people don’t prey on others with intention.


Good point about my loose use of the word ‘sane,’ thanks! Thank you so much for this response. I believe you and am listening. I thought I had taken plenty of time to heal, got counseling, etc. but you and Donna are right. If I think of meeting a great guy, my immediate, intense reaction is, “I’m not ready.” Kinda back at the same point as after ending the marriage. I need to take care of myself for a while. Thank you!

After 3 1/2 years of litigious entanglement, I now have my son, who turns 6 on Pearl Harbor Day, equal time.

I believed the NPD’s story it would all get better in the beginning over 8 years ago, overriding my gut instinct and that was a mistake. $96,000 later in legal fees, here we are.

As a 66 year young father now, my focus is on my lil’ Irishman. The universe has blessed me.

While a romantic adult relationship would be nice with a woman, the universe has shown me that would be miraculous.

Undaunted, the gym, racquetball and outdoor activities keep me young for my son.

To this day the mother continues to be a hinderance. One must remain vigilant.

Donna, you are a Godsend to so many and I appreciate all you have done and continue to do.

Go forth and prosper. But trust your gut first.

Don in Phoenix, AZ.

Once again, another great article, thanks Donna

I, too, am so sorry for your pain…and I agree with Donna, evil does exist.

I am now 63 and almost seven years out. For me, I no longer seek a romantic counterpart…but I have come into a new form of faith noe, and a stronger sense to let connections end when we are not moving in the same direction.

In the beginning, the pain was excruciating….it took three years to put that to rest…other betrayals csme along as I viewed associated family and even therapists who quite simply did not get it.

Life is very different now…almost like a Reverse Looking Glass.There is joy, but also an odd sense of willingness to reject certain behaviors in my life.

Be kind to yourself…it does get better day by day.


Thank you. Yes, the number of people (including Judges) who have no clue about Pers Disorders, is frustrating. These people are so damaging.


First of all as a refresher, I am 78, solitary and disabled (dropped foot, balance issues.)After having moved here 10 yrs. ago to be near my 40-ish, 5 children, who turned out to be sociopaths like their father, having 2 spine surgeries and knowing no one, I went NC with all the cult-like children and lived a la Howard Hughes. I’ve run low on resources and no friends. After Drs. have cleared me health-wise, everyone agrees that what I now need is socialization! With no one to turn to, all I want is to die. Therefore I’m turning tail and attempting to return to my tormentors for any kind of help…not that I expect them to; mostly in desperation. My caretakers are wonderful but my physical strength is weakening; I just don’t care any longer. I used to be very sociable but am now a lonely, old hermit.


Please Flika what would you say to another if they told you they are thinking of going back to their tormentors? Please do not give them the satisfaction! Please call 211 anonymously.


This is a wonderful, helpful site for discussion…not conflict.


With all due respect Flika I am responding to the person who is thinking of going back to her tormentors. Those people who disrespect and treat you poorly. Those were not fighting words. I was responding to the person who stated that she has given up. 211 operators can hook you up with many options. It does not hurt to see what they have in your vicinity and making that phone call anonymously means you are not obligated. One example is a friendly visitor. A person would come to your home and hang out with you on a weekly or as you desire basis. Many of the services are free in Canada and I see that 211 is also in the States.
I am sorry if my wording upset you Flika.


Thanks for kind words. No authorities, thanks


No authorities flicka.

The tormentors, my guess is, would bring in authorities to take away your independence. That which you fear they use to torment you with.

211 is a service where you make your own decisions regarding your care & recreational activities or just a friend.
There is no area code 211 in North America. The three-digit number 211 is reserved for special services (similar to 411 information and 911 emergency) so cannot be issued as an area code. In many areas, 211 is used as a short code to reach health and human services referrals.


They tried that but failed with committal threat 5 years ago. My athorney and behavioral psychology experts just laughed!


Good. You are going to be alright then flicka.

If you want a friend but do not relish the idea of visitors in your home the friendly visitor programs usually also have phone volunteers who will phone you once a week to talk as a friend with no strings. Nothing more than that. Just friendship / no agendas. Some info should you ever feel that you may reconnect with the tormentors.

I volunteered for a while and am very glad I did because am now good friends with the one lady. You never know.


Hello Donna,
This is a wonderful article. Thank you for the wise and understanding words. I shall copy and save and read over and have joy and gratitude for life.


Me too! I so relate to this article, I’ve just gotten to the frustrating point of – how do I heal myself, how do I find joy again? I left my ex-P almost 2 years ago, our custody battle ended almost 6 months ago with me getting 100% custody and him completely out of the picture. My child has healed, thank God, but I feel nothing. I went through a period of immense sadness and am thankful I’m not there anymore, but now I am just numb. I told my therapist I do not even remember what it’s like to be happy. I think I was so devoted to keeping my child safe and helping him heal that I’ve never processed my own feelings. My therapist recommended writing my story of the P, and I know that’s what I need to do to get it all out, but I’m so scared. Every time I think about even starting an overwhelming since of fear overtakes me. It’s just like Donna said, I’m afraid I’ll breakdown and won’t recover. How do I go through this process of feeling everything and crying and being so open and raw and emotional, when I have to keep myself together to take care of my child alone? I know I’ll be stuck forever if I don’t process it, but I don’t know how to process it and carry on with a life that doesn’t stop and needs me to have my $hit together?


Writing down your memoires is very cathartic and gradually brings forth long-forgotten memories. IF you add to it from time to time.


I found this site 5 years ago. It saved my life. I didnt date for a few years. I made the decision to work on ME.
I finally went on online dating sites. I met a guy that I used to work with 30 years ago. He lived over an hour away but I was planning to move back to the area. We had a phone and text relationship. I met him two weeks into it. He couldn’t make eye contact. Came on strong and got me entangled in a text relationship. Wanted to
Marry me etc. I was in cloud nine. Until … I caught
him on a dating site and he lied about it! I cut him totally off via text. Never answered his texts for months. I was depressed for months about it. Betrayed!
I finally got over him and started to date again. Once again I met someone online who I met after a week of him lovebombing me. I found out that he was in 5 Meds for a ” mood disorder”. Not “one” as he originally told me. He wanted to move in with me. I live with my youngest daughter (18) and I told him we need to get to know each other better. He got nasty and said my daughter just costed me a relationship! He totally blocked me (after 3 weeks of constant texting and calling and telling me how much he loved me!)
I haven’t been right since. I can’t contact him to even tell him how I feel. It’s really sad and I’m so upset! I know I dodged another bullet! And it was only 3 weeks of talking. But it’s so difficult to be discarded so abruptly. We actually made plans to get together sat nite. He blocked me and I can’t even ask why! Really upsetting 🙁


It’s far better for you to not have any further contact with him!


I know that , especially since I was just starting to feel sorry for him. I don’t know if he is a sociopath, but he admitted that he had a breakdown five years ago when his wife divorced him. He has been under psychiatric care since and is on five strong Meds!
The issue is that he texted me all day and sucked me in. The dopamine was firing in my brain and I felt high and thought I met someone who really liked me and cared for me.
I just can’t believe that I still don’t set boundaries from the start! He actually texted me ” I love you” before we ever met in person! He used the pity ploy to make me feel for him. ” mother just died. Ex gf was mean to him… ” etc. I was refusing to see him after our first meeting because he said he had no money to take me out!
It was all bizarre but I still feel upset! Why?????


He pulled you in and made you hopeful. Then he threw his shame on you. You probably think the shame is yours…. but its really his and he makes you feel it for him. Its called projective identification.
On the flip side of brain functioning… we are stuck with an archaic brain that gives us images of past memories to understand our present circumstances. We have the bad habit of thinking those things are dredged up in us as forms of self flagellation/ shame/ guilt. However, we are not dealing with our emotions well when we allow that negativity to work on us. Instead, use the images to place you in time and memory. Figure out where and what the memories refer to. Then you can compare the memories and events surrounding experiences in a positive light. For example: I felt like that when Uncle John harmed me when I was a teen. I responded by doing A B C… This time I feel similarly when Sam did that to me but I got out after only having to do A. I have not successfully had a relationship with someone I want to be intimate with, but I have learned to get out MUCH faster.
Then you can work toward making what you want to happen in the future. Use your knowledge to learn the red flags of abuse, but also use your knowledge to build a better sense of who you are and what you want. Then you wont waste so much time worrying about feeling badly that this nasty swamp creature got away. He really doesnt deserve your time and attention but YOU do!


Thank you. I realized that whenever I end a relationship…even when “I” end it …I spiral down and get very depressed. I can’t function! I have to work on understanding WHY this happens. It must be early feelings that come up. Very painful!!!! I am actually going to a wonderful clinical psychologist next week. I’ve had issues like this since I was 15!!!!
I know it comes from my mentally ill mommy dearest. She abused me since birth. My dad told me all about it. And I remember the abuse also , of course. So I do have severe self esteem issues deep down. And I’m fine when I’m not involved with a man. But I want to have a relationship again. (Married at 35 yrs old for 7 years….to a diagnosed sociopath)
I married my mother. He even looked like her. And I raised my girls alone. Now they are older and I want a compnion/lover again. But I’ve had two sick ones so far!!!! So I am going to fix myself so that I don’t set involved with another one!!!


Excellent post.
Thank you.
I feel like I just received a free session with my doc!

Tobehappy, flicka, gypsies, elizabeth…

It’s soooo important to understand how your brain chemistry works to get you and keep you hooked. Romantic love is a type of addiction. There are neuropeptides and hormones in your brain that make you feel a certain way…. loving, trusting, etc. It’s your natural way of being, but it can be misused by someone cruel.

When you go through a betrayal, you experience the cessation of the chemical addiction and feel it as a painful withdrawal. Unfortunately, especially today with internet dating, people can stir up your brain chemistry without a great deal of effort. And you are no less hooked by the relationship that is evolving.

In the future, you need to be mindful that this hook exists and is very strong. Anonymity is far easier to achieve today than it used to be when society lived in villages and one’s reputation meant the world to them. Internet dating gives people access, and the ability to set up their target. Be sure you carefully research the person you meet before giving your heart away. When you feel that tug of affection, remind yourself that it’s a hormonal effect, and that you need to seriously conduct your due-dilligence before you’re harmed again.


I was just reading about the science of all of this!
It happened to me twice this year!!
I met both online. They both lived an hour away.
So the relationships both started out talking on the phone.
THEN…. The texting all day long started.
It was pure brainwashing. I actually told everyone I was “on cloud nine”!!!!!
Both times, when I met them in person, their actions didn’t match up with their words!

After the first one ended, because I caught him in lies( found him on dating sites) , I even changed my profile
to say… ” not into text relationships”. But, I broke my own rule! Why? Because I got addicted to the feeling I got from the texts all day!!!!!!

Both said ” I love you” before our meeting! Both spoke of living together and even marrying!!! The first week!!! Omg

And both became verbally abusive and angry when I didn’t do what they said. ( ie “drive up to see me”)

Both times I was the one who ended it. The recent one kept calling and made me feel guilty (pity ploy) for hurting him. So I agreed to drive up the next day. Well, the next day I was blocked!!!!!

Both were on Meds for mental issues. The second one took five different ones! Strong cocktail!!!!
He admitted that he’s got a “mood disorder”!!! And has psychiatric history!!!

So these were my first two relationships in a long time. I decided to look for a companion/relationship since my kids are away at college now. ( one home ).

So I became severely shocked and depressed both times.
But now I learned my lesson.

I need to set boundaries and not let them suck me in so fast!!!
Had I stopped them from the love talk, etc. and said…. ” let’s meet and date first” and not allowed them to get me hooked on those texts….I would have saved myself a lot of agony.

So I made up my mind that until I love myself enough to not NEED that affection so desperately and allow them to lure me with it….and hook me… I’m not dating! And if I meet someone online, there will be a physical meeting before I talk and disclose personal stuff, and allow them to sense my weaknesses and then lovebomb me!!!

My brain went from feeling so high on life to crashing and spiraling into a deep dark place!! I’m still recovering from the last one. Trying not to beat myself up for letting it happen again!!!!

Thanks for your response 🙂


You’re still beating yourself up…………..”until I love myself enough to not NEED that affection so desperately and allow them to lure me with it”.and hook me” I’m not dating!”

It’s not that you don’t love yourself enough. It’s that your brain chemistry responds to written romantic overtures. It’s like being an alcoholic and saying “when I drink Scotch I get addicted, so I won’t drink Scotch until I won’t like it so much.”

You simply need to recognize that you absolutely never know who the person is at the other end of a conversation until you know them personally….. and even then, what they say about them self, and who they really are, can be two very different things.

When you’re a person whose brain chemistry is responsive to internet scams, don’t use the internet for dating purposes. There is nothing wrong with you. There is something very wrong with the emotional predator at the other end of the conversation.

Don’t look to the internet to meet Mr. Right, and don’t give your heart away until you know a person well.



I just read a book. Wired For Joy. Best ever!
It explains how the brain works. And why I was so vulnerable
to the brainwashing (lovebombing) esp via text!
It will Never happen again!
Thanks for your response. U r so right!!! 🙂


This article sums up what you’ve learned from those 2 on line dating experiences, and includes some pointers for dating.

still reeling

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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