By | September 17, 2007 8 Comments

Being vulnerable after the sociopath is gone, does not mean letting go of me

Beginnings. Endings. Closing doors and openings. Stepping into the moment I find a new moment inside, beyond the moment, opening up, expanding this moment into the next.

A weekend invitation. To spend time with a friend at a mountain hide-away. We’ve known each other three years. We first met when I was writing a business plan for a company he was involved with. He was married. I was not interested in men, regardless of their marital status. He’s since divorced. Over the past year we’ve grabbed a quick lunch. A coffee here. A glass of wine there. I’ve never thought of him as someone to date, simply a friend to share experiences with.

But, a couple of weeks ago, my perceptions shifted. “I’ve got a friends cabin for the weekend,” he said on Wednesday. “Would you care to join me?”

There were no strings attached. No expectations. Two adults spending a weekend as friends.

And we did. Spend the weekend as friends. But in the midst of the laughter, the conversations, the sharing of our stories that were deeper than what we’d shared in the past, something shifted. Somewhere between the playing cards, cooking dinner, long tranquil walks along the lake shore and zooming across its surface in a power boat, the wind whipping my hair from my face, the laughter catching on the updraft, soaring up and around and above me, a moment opened up and possibility tumbled into the gap between us. Possibility of something more, of something deeper greeted us with its exciting, and its sometimes terrifying, ability to connect two people through something of greater substance than a lunch grabbed here. A coffee. A glass of wine there.

In my experience, I have attached myself to two types of men. Those who are emotionally unavailable — I spend my time beating against their doors, hammering for entry knowing it will never come. In my insistence they let me in, I remain comfortable in my knowledge that I will never have to step beyond the confines of my carefully constructed wall masking my fear of being vulnerable. The other type of man is the emotional vacuum — like the sociopath. Caught in the backdraft of his heat, the air between us is sucked out as our bodies become fused in a parasitic relationship that leaves me breathless, and afraid. And lost.

I don’t do relationship like I used to. But then, I haven’t really done relationship since getting my life back 4+ years ago when the sociopath was arrested. Somewhere in the journey from then to this moment, I have shifted my perspective. Created a whole different view of who I am and how I am. Turned the corner on my fear of me and embraced me in my truth — this is my one and only life. And I am all that I am meant to be when I stand at centre stage of my own life and spread my wings. The choice is mine.

I still know fear. Still feel it. Taste it at the back of my thoughts in the after-bite of anticipation that someone has entered my space. Someone else is touching me beyond the everyday touch of civility and friendship. That I could open my feelings up to someone else and be vulnerable.

Not a happy place vulnerability. Scary. Shifting sands. Lost-in-time walking through fear to that place where courage awaits with open arms to expose my senses to fear, to joy, to the exhilaration of stepping out of my comfort zone into a place I’ve never been before.

This is new turf for me. A new terrain. A place where I have held myself away from. Protected myself from. In this space, I risk becoming blinded by fear, carefully tapping my cane, searching the ground before me for potholes, loopholes, any type of hole that might suck me into believing someone could be who they are and in their truth find me enchanting, appealing, exciting, interesting.

Since the sociopath was arrested 4+ years ago, I have dated two men, both within the past year. One had possibility — but timing was definitely off and as time together opened the door to time future, our directions changed and we went separate ways without fearing hurting the other. The second, I knew from the get-go the possibility would not open up to the vista of more simply because red flags started falling at our first hello and lasted through our two dates and one dog walk.

This time. This time I feel the difference. I feel the pull. The lure of possibility there’s something out there, someone in there, in here, around the corner, inside the moment opening up to something beyond more.

To be whole, to be safe without fear of drowning, to be free, I must ground myself in this moment, this place where I am okay with me. With my life. With who I am. I must stand in this moment, right now, open to what is, confident that I am who I am, regardless of the passion of the wind swirling around me. Regardless of who he is and who I think I could be with him. I must be me inside, outside, within me. And leave space for him to be who he is, inside, outside, within him.

It was a lovely weekend. As I fell asleep the night I returned to the city, however, tiny tears prickled the back of my eyes. I felt anxiety rising and thoughts of what if…? What if he’s not real. What if it’s all a lie. What if he’s just like the sociopath….? The what if’s of time past. Of fear and terror and knowing I was dying through living my life in the web of someone else’s untruths.

That was then. This is now.

Regardless of who comes in, or out, of my life today, my truth is, I am a fearless woman living her life completely, being all that she is meant to be. I am me. Exactly as I am. A bundle of nerves. Of cells united. Of cells dividing into beauty, courage, passion, fear, anticipation, determination, trepidation and a host of other feelings that pull me from my centre — if I let them. My responsibility is to be true to me. To stand centered in my values, beliefs, morals, dreams.

The choice is mine.

In this moment right now, I choose to surrender and fall into love with me, all of me, warts and all so that I can be free of the expectation that someone else’s life entering mine will make my dreams come true. My dreams are mine to create. To set free. To share. In my surrender, I open myself up to the possibility that relationship is not what I thought it was, or what is was when I experienced it in the arms of a sociopath, but rather, what it becomes when two people step freely into the arms of possibility, confident in their ability to be whole, exactly the way they are. Knowing the possibility of more is an exciting journey of a relationship unfolding in time.

No one else has the secret to my happiness. To my dreams. To my life.

The choice is mine.

For today, I choose to be vulnerable to this moment where I am fearfully and fearlessly stepping into waters I’ve never swum in before.

In making the choice to experience this time the way it is, and not the way my memory pulls me, I make the choice to free myself from the past so that I can choose life.

Posted in: M.L. Gallagher

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I SO hope for your sake that this is just simply a good, sweet, loving, nice guy- because really- that’s what we really all want- isnt’ it? no cursed baggage, no psycho dramas, no horror, no lies, no deception.
Good- honest- employed- empathetifc- loving- clean- THERE.

i’m not sure i’ll ever find it again- i sure hope you do.

let us know. kathryn


The beauty of this post is it isn’t about HIM…or THEM…it’s about HER!

Almost a year later, and I can’t even fathom trusting a man again…but I know…trust comes from inside me…I KNOW I can stand…just haven’t found someone worthy of standing with. I’m ok with that…

Amen…GOD bless…and be TRUTH.


Are you a professional writer? Are you looking for a job?

You are truly brilliant.

There are many kinds of brilliant. Essentially, brilliant is as brilliant does. The brain does what the mouth says.

Your writing is superb, insightful, and just plain beautiful.

My sense is that you have made your journey. You have learned the lessons that needed to be learned.

Ten months after my four and one half years of self-imposed incarceration, I share many of your thoughts.

There was a need to fall in love with myself first, before I could enter a healthy relationship. I needed to grow up, stop believing despite all the red flags popping up, I needed to realize no one was going to save me, I needed to listen, really listen, I needed to realize that there are humans in this world who do not speak the truth, and many more lessons.

I don’t hate him, I do not fear the future relationship I shall have — I merely honor the lessons. Sure wish God sent me a letter. But life doesn’t work that way. I am stronger, happier, calmer, more emotionally intelligent now because of this horrific parasitic relationship which took me to a place of sheer terror I did not know existed within me.

I am also a better mother, a better physician, a better chooser of friends — now.

Thank you times infinity. If this relationship doesn’t blossom, it shall be your choice. Because you are listening. You have learned the lessons. You are not blaming. And it sounds like you would be the kind of friend I would invite in my life. You are full of positive energy. You don’t blame. You take responsibility. You know you are responsible for your journey.

Reading your thoughts has been a Sunday morning treat. I am a lucky woman as I write this on my deck which looks upon the ocean. Alone, not lonely, calm — and dare I say happy.

Yes, we can unlearn and relearn. We do have neuronal plasticity. It just takes time. And courage to watch the movie of your life and take responsibility for the future acts. Your post is a testament to the book The Brain That Changes Itself by Norman Doidge, MD. We can emotionally rewire those neurons. You are proof.

And I plan to follow your dust. Please let me know how the movie plays forward. You have a beautiful mind.


Yes, I am a lucky woman. I did not marry him, have children with him, or allow him to enter my business.

It is the following sentence that makes me feel fear, taste it as you say — he said he wanted to spend the rest of his life with me but would not marry because we were not going to have children, but he wanted to be my business manager with a salary in order to help me realize my potential. Oh, and he wanted to move into my home, without any financial contributions, and pretend it was his.

Although I am unraveling my neuronal circuitry slowly, and incorporating the lessons……..there are definitely moments.

I realized who you are as I have read about Dandelion Spirit in previous posts. I ordered your book and will read with much interest, and probably cry.

Thank you for your beautiful mind.


I admire all the strength that I am reading about. I’ts been 6 months and I still haven’t gotten over the pain. I still can’t believe that someone so loving could could be so decietful. I want to go foward although it is so difficult. I concentrate on my family and my life. What is left is an empty place in my heart. I just hope some time in the near future. This will be just a bad dream and “Questo a tavola dovere passar”…
An this too shall pass.


Dear Wounded and optimisticpd,

I completely sympathize with the idea of never knowing when the hurt will stop or when you’ll be able to trust again. My sociopath was with me for two years, and was never just wtih me. He had serious long-term relationships with five other women (without me knowing, of course) over the course of our relationship, and was physically, emotionally, psychologically, and financially abusive to me. He hurt me in a way that I never knew was possible, but when things were good in the beginning, he also opened up a side of me that I didn’t know was there…. a secret to the world I didn’t know existed. And now, three months later, my sociopath has actually married one of the women he cheated on me with! Which is amusing to me, actually, since he lives in her college dorm room! But I have found myself on shakey ground. Like so many of us who have gone through this, I’ve found myself completely shattered and desperately trying to pick up the pieces, and had on a few occasions even attempted to take my own life. I have actually begun seeing a hypnotherapist, which I think will really do me some good. I have not begun the hypnosis yet, but will begin in my next session, and I truly believe this will help heal the emotional side of me that feels that it’s been doused in gasoline and lit up in flames. I would honestly recommend this to anyone who is feeling the same way. I am suffereing from PTSD from my encounter, and I feel it truly is important to not let go of yourself…. to remember who you once were, the person whose spirit was nearly killed in the encounter….

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