The question victims of sociopaths most frequently ask is, “Why am I having such a hard time getting beyond this?” I am going to give an answer, but I’m afraid that since the answer is intellectual and not emotional, it may not feel complete or satisfactory. This is how a reader phrased this question:
It’s interesting because it seems like a lot of members on the board (myself included) have mentioned how difficult it is to get rid of thoughts of their sociopath. They seem to haunt us even after they have left our lives. As if the damage and destruction was not enough, they continue to be a part of our lives through our minds.
We have to acknowledge that this question is not only asked by victims of sociopathy. Many people who have suffered the loss of a significant intimate relationship ruminate for a long time. As far as I know there are no studies directly comparing victims of sociopaths to widows/widowers and divorced people. The presence of depression definitely increases this rumination in divorced and widowed people. It is highly recommended that people who have suffered loss, and who have sleep and appetite disturbance with excessive preoccupation be considered for antidepressants.
Many things contribute to the depression that is experienced after a relationship with a sociopath. Depression is learned helplessness. Sociopaths increase helplessness in victims by their exploitive care-taking behavior that is disguised as love. I personally experienced at least two examples of this. While I was pregnant, my former husband drove me to work, saying he was concerned about me. Effectively, I didn’t drive or go any where alone for nearly a year. He also ordered lunch for me everyday. These small things add up and increase reliance on the sociopath. Then, when the sociopath is gone, victims have to regain their autonomy.
At the beginning of a relationship, sociopaths determine what a victim’s most sacred dreams are. They then proceed to convince the victim that they are the answer to those dreams. Victims often feel that the sociopath is their dream come true, not realizing that they told the sociopath their dreams and the sociopath then used the information to deceive. No one wants to give up his/her most sacred dream. Sociopaths know this and count on it. This fact makes victims enter a state of denial in order to preserve the illusion that these dreams have come true. When that state of denial is finally broken, depression sets in. The depression is about a feeling of hopelessness that the things wanted most in life will never be achieved.
In addition to depression, anxiety greatly affects adjustment to the loss of a relationship. In the wake of a relationship with a sociopath, victims are often left with financial problems, fear of the IRS and police, no friends and severed family ties. It is no wonder there is massive anxiety here! Our minds are preprogrammed to seek relief from anxiety through our love relationships. Because of this preprogramming, anxiety will increase thoughts of the sociopath. One Lovefraud reader stated recently, “I am learning that if I can reduce the anxiety which is the most uncomfortable thing to live with, then I can focus on moving forward.” The anxiety experienced during the relationship with the sociopath also enhances the psychological bond. I have discussed this in previous posts.
The bottom line is that in order to even begin to recover, you have to overcome depression and anxiety. If you are not able to do this alone please get help. With all the advances in medicine there is no reason to suffer. Also realize that you cannot overcome anxiety and depression without taking care of yourself. Stop smoking, eat a healthy diet, do not drink alcohol. Alcohol will weaken your coping and interfere with your sleep. You also need at least 30 minutes of exercise a day. You also need to find good social support. Social support is the best natural treatment of anxiety there is.
Although I am a native New Yorker and grew up locally, I only lived in the city for the past 10 years. Prior to that, I was living in Boston. Interestingly, there I had everything I want now: stability, a large circle of good friends, relationships, community service… I remember needing more “excitement.” I also felt that while the guys I dated were very nice, they just didn’t provide me a real spark, save for one, Paul, mentioned above. Little did I know that Paul may be a sociopath…
In 2000, New York City was still edgy, the bars and clubs were interesting. Early on, I met many guys, dated some, but never really found anyone I connected with. After 9-11, both the city and my situation changed.
First Guiliani, then Bloomberg, turned NYC into Disney version of its former self. New York lost its edge and was flooded with the very type of person I disconnect with the most: ex-suburban, yuppie wannabes…
Due to my jobs, I was working more and more hours. Thus, I had less and less time to meet people. Then the job pressure really increased and in 2006, for the first time in my life I went to see a psychiatrist. By 2008, I had not been in a dating situation in maybe 6 years.
Later in the year, when I went on short-term disability, my psychiatrist encouraged me to take that time to reflect on meaningful relationships and put myself in a position to meet such people. Thus, I began my short-term disability with this very goal in sight.
In one of the many bizarre aspects of my story, the first day of my short-term disability was Jamie’s birthday. The following day would set into motion all of the events which led to my meeting him.
I went up to Montreal for a concert. I have loved that city since childhood vacations. My first true romantic gay encounter occurred in Montreal and while living in Boston, I sent many long weekends there.
Instantly, I re-experienced all the things I loved about that city, most important, it still had an edge. I extended my trip one day and began considering moving there. I would go to McGill University and change my career. I would learn French. Most important, I felt I could meet the kind of guy I was looking for, not a poseur, but somebody real.
I returned to New York and started feeling down. When I went out, I saw nobody to whom I was attracted. When I did meet people, they were all the same pretentious, superficial and shallow people I loathe.
One Thursday night, I took a ride up to Montreal just to go to my favorite club, Parking. That night, in one club, I saw more attractive and truly chic guys then in all the New York bars and clubs combined. I met one of them. We really hit it off in a way that I never connected with anyone in New York.
Thus, I began I long-distance relationship with a guy in Montreal. I will spare the details, but needless to say, this was not going to work out. Initially, I was very, very upset. However, I took the time to reflect, not only on why this relationship was wrong, but the good aspects as well. Most important, I regained the desire to have a meaningful relationship, something I had given up on.
On the last Saturday on my short-term disability, I reflected on those last three months. I was relaxed and no longer depressed. I was sad my relationship did not last, but happy I had finally found somebody with whom I had a connection.
I thought about many things. Not meeting people drunk in seedy bars. Not rushing into sex. Taking time to know somebody.
As Saturday night turned to Sunday morning, I was in a cab heading to a club to meet a friend. I remember thinking that I had one day left before having to return to work with everything accomplished except the meaningful relationship. Minutes later, I met Jamie.
I am finally back to the same position I was in that day. I am sad, but no longer depressed. Fortunately, all the days of the past 1.5 years have not been dark. I met many nice people. I met honest people, including those up-front honest about their HIV status. I also learned again what a relationship is like when you meet a normal, available person.
Since coming back from Europe last November, I have dated nobody. I have abstained from alcohol and sex. I have focused on physical and emotional recovery. I am aware of all the reasons why I never seem to met people in New York for meaningful relationships.
With this knowledge, I am giving myself until the end of the year. If I have not met meaningful people by then, I will move elsewhere. While born here, I do not have the attitude that New York is the greatest city in the world, a place where you must to be to prove you are somebody.
I can not tell you how many times I’ve been asked this question… “Why is it taking you so long to get over this?” It’s hard to get people to understand unless they have been a victim in the past themselves.
I know I did not love my ex-sociopath; I only loved who he pretended to be. I know that he was NOT the person I thought I wanted to spend my life with, he was just pretending to be what I told him in confidence I wanted in a man… that is all. I don’t miss him, and the only time I dream of him, I am fighting with him, or running from him. No loss of love here for the jerk.
That being said, it’s been almost two years to the day that he hung up on me while picking up his mistress/girlfriend for his 3rd vacation in two years. He had sworn for 2 yrs she was just a friend. He had quite convincing anger fits when he talked about his ex-wife accusing him of having an affair with the woman, when she wasn’t even dating material. Well, she might not have been dating material, but he’d had an affair with her for 5 yrs, “he’d tried for 7 yrs, but it took him 2 yrs to convince her he really wanted to get divorced.”
So why do I care? Not because of what I lost in my relationship with HIM, he was a crummy boyfriend and an even WORSE lover! What I lost was myself. I lost my trust, my belief in love, and faith, and god. I lost a marriage to my ex husband that should have never ended because of the sociopaths manipulation and mind games. And after the jerk finally let me go and I started dating someone else… he ended that relationship for me too.
I’m remarried now, and THANK GOD, I was never married to the sociopath, but there’s still so much emotional damage because of him. One of the hardest daily challenges is that I am forced to go to work where he is in a position of power and honor. I am constantly reminded that there is NO PROOF that he has done any of the things I’ve accused him of, and when I try to provide proof, I am told not only that they can not accept my evidence, but that it is inappropriate to say anything at all!
For 1 and 1/2 yrs of the two year relationship I tried to break up with my sociopath on and off, because he always seemed to be trying to hide the fact that we were a couple. When I would tell him such things, he’d say I was imagining it, and that he was just private. Now at work, I have to deal with a manager and even ex-friends who tell me on a regular basis I have no reason to be afraid or angry at this man because not only was his abuse all in my mind, the RELATIONSHIP was also imagined!
My ex got remarried on the rebound from me, and the only reason he can stay married to the woman he fights with all the time, is he only spends a half dozen days with her a month. I feel responsible for that, even though I know I was manipulated into the relationship and the divorce.
My new husband has to deal with total, “screaming… crying… hyperventilating…” panic attacks even 2 yrs after the break up, because of the office bullying the ex sociopath sends my way. He literally can insult me, and set me into a panic, “fight or flight” with his attacks on me, and people standing around only see how I respond, and swear he’s done nothing to me. His verbal attacks of, “get out of here… she can’t even hold her water,” and other humiliating comments are brushed away by others, simply because he faces another person when he says them to me, and thus it was just him, “joking around with someone else,” and I’m told once again, I imagined the whole thing.
They say the best revenge is a life well lived… however it’s really hard to move forward when not ONLY the memories of the abusive and FICTIONAL relationship keep floating in your head, but when there is someone in your life determined to keep control of your emotions… to your detriment!
I keep hoping to find a job someplace else, but the job market is so messed up right now. Some times I feel like I am making a deal with the devil to keep my home, by working with someone who I know is a sociopath, and with people who would prefer to believe his pretty lies, over the ugly truth. At the same time, why should HE take the only thing I have left of my OLD life, my home and my job?
Why is it taking so long. Why aren’t you over this? Why are you letting something in the past, still hurt you now? It’s NOT because we don’t understand what is going on. It’s simply that the feelings of inferiority, and the lack of trust in our own judgment any more, ad to our fears of repeating the same mistake over and over and over again.
One of my most common questions to my husband is, “does that sound sane?” I’ve heard from so many people that I imagined and am still imagining the abuse, that some times I question my current view of the world, as much as the old fairytale view that got me into this trouble.
Its The Betrayal Bond that is keeping you from moving on totally. It goes way back. I read the book, did ALL of the work in it (its a workbook) and it helped stop all of the PTSD symptoms.
I understood why I felt the way I did. Its deep rooted. I don’t want any of my x’s and I deserve better and I am totally conscious of that.
The “unconscious” part of it was the betrayal bond. For most of us…we were raised by a socio and from that experience, we are still trying to get love from an adult …and since we were put down and abused, we will tolerate abuse in our adult lives. Its learned behavior and we need to REWIRE…meaning build up our sense of self worth and stop trying to get someone that mistreats us ..to love us.
Thats the best way I can explain why it takes so long…its deep rooted and even though we don’t really want the ex’s, we want love and we were fooled again like when we were young children.
I am no longer that little girl trying to get my parents to love me. I recognize that they were f&cked up and that they were incapable of loving….because they didn’t love themselves. Its a cycle. So, I grew up without loving myself.
Now I do love and appreciate and approve of who I am as a person. And, now, the xbf is trying to get back with me. As much as I loved “who I thought he really was” at one time, I don’t want him back in my life. I deserve better.
I only feel sorry for him now. He is damaged and disordered, and as much as he hurt me over and over with his lies, HE is now missing having someone love him as I did. I gave him lots of attention, love, and sex and now he needs to find another supply. Not so easy. Women are getting wise to men like this..older women, anyway. He will have to target a younger one now that he is older. Not my problem anymore.
He did me a big favor by running when I called him on a lie and told him I just want to be friends. His ego got in the way and he zapped me in the end. He bit off his nose to spite his face. And, yes, I broke down for awhile…but I bounced back and have had nothing but good luck since I stayed away this time.
I suggest you read The Betrayal Bond.
OMG. No two words better describe what happened to me than “betrayal-bonding.” I put much trust in Jamie that was traumatically shattered.
I will get the book.
Behind blue eyes…
THAT book pretty much cured me of PTSD. I realized WHY I was so obsessed with thinking of him ….It was NOT because I loved him. I was the one who broke up with him.
Its DEFINITELY an early feeling….Once I read that book and then THE POWER OF NOW…and joined the gym…I was moving forward so fast!
I felt like a million dollars! And stronger than ever.
I started focusing on ME ME ME!
It was miraculous.
And, after reading Alice Millers articles …I actually feel sorry for these socios. They are miserable deep down. Of course, not enough to want them in my life! I want HEALTHY people in my life who are secure and happy. Insecure people will always hurt you. And, socios live on fear and run and are really angry little insecure people.
I have insecurities, but I have raised my self esteem more than ever in the last few months. I consider myself a SURVIVOR now. I WAS a victim as a child…and as an adult.
NO more……As Leona Lewis sings…..”Just want to be happy”.
And, I am.
How’s it going??
Re: “The Betrayal Bond”
This is a great book. It helped me to see that my “conditioning” to being receptive to abuse and all the other mistreatment handed down by a long string of people, culminating in my S-ex, began at the hands of a malignant N mother and S father. The problem was, after reading “The Betrayal Bond” was that I still didn’t understand how my parents were able to take such complete and total control over my life.
Control is the operative word. You have to understand how you let people control you. And let me tell you, you have to be conditioned to allow people to control you. To figure out how that happened, and in my opinion it can often be traced to our upbringing, I recommend “If You Had Controlling Parents” by Dan Neuharth. In the book he breaks down the kinds of control parents can exercise over their kids. At the start of the book he asks you to answer 67 questions. I answered yes to 65 out of the 67. My parents basically exercised every kind of control over me. After that book I understood why I felt like a marionette whose strings were pulled by two martinets.
Of course, I read “Controlling Parents” way before I read “Betrayal Bond”. It was the latter book that finally helped me understand why I continued to allow myself to be abused by the people in my life.
Control leads to betrayal leads to control leads to betrayal. And on and on and on.
Bottom line, read both books. Both will help you to understand and learn to prevent what took place in your life.
Funny, I just recommended that book to someone on another thread! Betrayal Bond is so healing. We need to understand and unravel the confusion to heal.
Once I did the exercises, it was totally enlightening to why I made the choices in who to let into my life…friends, boyfriends…husband. I was so confused before I read this book, among other feelings…hurt, angry, betrayal.
Now I just had some sadness that people don’t realize that they were abused and were victims and then they abuse their children and then the cycle goes on and on.
I’m glad I broke it by divorcing the father of my children. He was abusing me and then the children. I was not going to put my children through the abuse I lived through in my life.
Yes, they feel the neglect of him not being part of their lives, but they understand that he is disordered. I taught them about abuse and why some people make the choice to become the monster that they cannot beat.
Thank you for the book suggestion.
I’m doing great. How are you? …..
I’ve had a crazy two weeks…did my NY film documentary on my life! Watch out for it…we might air it on tv! lol!!!
My daughter has had me running to NY for auditions for film and modelling jobs. Its always an adventure.
I am back to the gym …car repair kept me away for 5 days! I’m on my special diet program in the gym and I am back to working out.
I’m still waiting to go into mediation with my house and hopefully I will be able to stay here.
I’m still in therapy, individual and group and reading alot about life and people and spiritual books too. I learned to meditate and its helping alot.
I did get a trigger … a text from the xbf. He sent me one on April 18 and now one last Friday….
He said “OMG I still miss you and love you so much and I am so sorry”
I had some different reactions to this…
Then, sadness….feeling love for him and that he is stupid to screw things up.
Then anger….even though I was the one who ended it…he zapped me in the end.
I didn’t respond, because it would open up communication. But, I did answer him in my head for a few days…asking questions….telling him off…..etc…
I am not ready to speak with him and I feel that he doesn’t deserve me in his life..not even a text …after how he treated me. I don’t want to deal with disordered people anymore. No matter what I text him…it will make him happy to get my attention and I don’t think he deserves a wonderful woman like me in his life!!!!
So, I’m taking care of ME. If he died, I’d live on….and find a healthy person to love and to love me…eventually.
Right now I am bettering myself in any way that I could. Exercise is the best!!! I’m addicted to my gym!!!
Lots of nice people there too!
I’m working my *.* off and getting ready to move and, and and looking for any one of a half dozen possible miracles with the company I’m helping to start.
Looks like my insult will complete its legal process before mid summer. Goodness its slow.
Power Of NOW is AWESOME, so is Betrayal Bond. And so is just bein’ here.
Glad things are well with you:)