How to recognize and recover from the sociopaths – narcissists in your life › Forums › Lovefraud Community Forum – General › Struggling with regrets
February 17, 2021 at 3:53 pm #65264
I’ve posted about my divorce regrets before but am still struggling so wanted to bring this up again.
I was married to my sociopath ex for 15 years. He was a wonderful husband in many superficial aspects but as it turns out he was hiding a degenerate double life (hookers, strippers, alcohol, drugs, crime) and was lying and manipulating me to keep me in the dark and dependent and submissive to him.
Once everything came to light we broke up and I was in a state of complete shock and extreme distress and mental instability for years. Luckily I found material online on sociopathy/narcissism early on so that helped me understand him and resolve the extreme cognitive dissonance I was experiencing.
When it became time to finalize the legal aspects of divorce and divide our assets he became even more abusive and started threatening me, manipulating me, intimidating me, pressuring me, and coercing me to give up my assets. He also had his cronies help him to pressure me to give in to him so I was up against a group of people. He also had been in extreme mania with extreme spending and squandering of our joint assets.
My regret is that at the time I was not strong enough to stand up to him. I was afraid of his threats. I was exhausted from the years of emotional abuse and financial abuse. I was mentally unstable from the years of lying and manipulating and gas lighting. My sense of self was completely diminished. I was trauma bonded and still felt loyal to him. I had lost my agency and felt brainwashed and coerced by him to just give in to his demands. I was not strong enough to go to court and get protection against him. And I ended up just giving in to his demands so I could get away from the abuse and finally rest.
Now several years later I have rested and am stronger and now look back and regret my weakness at the time. I wish I had been strong enough to stand up to him. Not just financially, but also emotionally I think it would have been healing for me to finally stand up to him and say: NO YOU WILL NOT TAKE THIS FROM ME. But I never got the chance because I was too afraid and too weakened.
I have discussed this in counseling and with family and friends and everyone says I did the right thing at the time given the circumstances. They are glad I did not fight him because they say he would have destroyed me in retaliation. But I cannot find peace with this. And it’s too late now to go back and change anything.
February 17, 2021 at 5:31 pm #65265emilie18Participant
sept4 – I totally understand your feelings. My ex left owing me about $15K. He, too manipulated and coerced me out of loans and cash for things he claimed were for “us”. When he got what he wanted he claimed he had paid me back and could “prove it” — of course I had never seen a cent and since all was in cash, and he had changed ownership records and title registrations behind my back, I couldn’t prove anything in court. I regreted not insisting, demanding, suing him – but he, too, scared the beejeebers out of me with his threats. It was not worth my mental stability and well being to pursue it. Sadly I had to put up with well-meaning friends and family who just did not understand my passivity, which did not help the regret and anger. It took a while to come to terms with the financial losses – and even more time to deal with the anger and guilt. What helped me most was to imagine the “what ifs” and Worst Case Scenarios … What if I had stayed with him? (That daydream ended with me shooting him (grin)). What if I had forced him to sign an IOU? Or give back the trailer, tractor, RV, tools and gun? (That one ended with him shooting ME). What if I had taken him to court? (That one ended with me holding a worthless writ of judgment AND him shooting me). With every imagined scenario I came up with a Worst Case Ending – and that helped me see what a wise and judicious decision I had made. Now he is totally OUT of my life. He doesn’t live in my head. I don’t have to chase him all over looking for money. I am alive and not in jail. Money is just money – but peace of mind – that is worth a fortune! I wish you peace!
February 17, 2021 at 6:08 pm #65266
Thank you so much Emilie. I love your perspective.
Funny my family and friends actually had the opposite reaction from yours in that they encouraged my passivity. They did not want me to fight him. They just wanted me to get away from him.
Actually I feel some resentment toward them for not encouraging me to take him to court. Even though I know they spoke out of love and just wanted to protect me. I still wish they had encouraged me to be strong and fight.
- This reply was modified 1 week, 4 days ago by sept4.
February 18, 2021 at 3:36 pm #65271
sept4- I can understand your regrets, especially now that you are stronger. The timing of everything comes in stages. At the time of your divorce you were still reeling from all of the lies and manipulation and were in no condition to put up a fight. Your main concern was to get out of it with your life in tact – you had the strength to realize that and at that time especially with threats and retaliation you had the strength to walk away, seek therapy, become informative and find your strength and happiness without your ex. If you fought him in court a judge may have awarded you a piece of paper that said you were entitled to this or that, yet collecting from your ex would have brought on another fight that may have thwarted your recovery. You did fight……for your sanity and peace of mind and as emilie mentioned that is priceless.
I love the “what-if’s ” that emilie presented. We all need to see things with more humor.
When you start ruminating about the regrets just look at how far you’ve come – that is the definition of strength!
Hope you can find comfort in your own strengths knowing no one can take that away from you now.
February 18, 2021 at 10:20 pm #65279
Thank you Funluv 🙂
February 20, 2021 at 5:30 pm #65289Donna AndersenKeymaster
sept14 – when we realize we’ve been conned – and by believing the sociopaths, we’ve been conned – we tend to be very hard on ourselves. Why didn’t we see what was going on? Why did we fall for the lies?
But that’s what is coming from our thinking brain. Recovery and peace come from our hearts.
It sounds like you need to do more processing of your emotional pain. Yes, the took your assets, but the real, deep wound was the emotional betrayal. You married this guy. You trusted him. You thought he had your best interests at heart. He violated your love and trust.
You’ve probably cried a lot already. But if this is still eating at you, my guess is that there is another layer of emotional pain within you. If you can allow yourself to feel that deep pain, feel and release it, I think it will help you.
February 21, 2021 at 12:04 am #65294
Thank you Donna.
For many years I only suffered from the emotional pain. I did not care about the money at all. Only the last year or so did I move on to feeling loss and anger about the financial part. Delayed by many years in which I only focused on the emotional part.
I was actually hoping that maybe that meant I finally processed the emotional part. And that the feelings about the financial part finally surfaced after so many years because maybe I processed the emotional part which then finally allowed space for the financial part.
I wish the financial part would have come first because then I could have gathered strength to fight in court. But while we were going through the legal aspects I was still only completely focused on the emotional pain and did not care about money because I just wanted to be safe and free from him.
February 21, 2021 at 11:39 am #65296
sept4- I feel the thing that is most upsetting for all of us sociopath survivors is that we’re left with the pain and regrets while the sociopath goes about business as usual without any guilt or remorse. This causes me to be angry and I struggle with releasing my anger as well as my emotional pain.
Since my relationship with my sociopath was long distance I feel fortunate in dodging the bullet – I was not financially taken advantage of nor was he in my presence 24/7. However, he projected and fabricated our future together and allowed me to feel love. This is where I stall in healing my emotions. I wanted that future and I wanted to love and be loved and that was manipulated and stolen from me. My feelings were real and in the aftermath my emotions are still raw.
I’m not sure what the key is to releasing our pain as it comes in layers as Donna previously mentioned. What I do know now is that I’m angry and I don’t want to live with anger same as none of us want to live with regrets. It’s all very intricate and complicated to be sure. It certainly is unlike any normal breakup. I look at my divorce from a man I was married to for 21 years and that does not compare to what I am going through right now. Perhaps the key in our healing is that we will certainly recognize the sociopathic red flags going forward. That certainly is a step in the right direction and our path to healing.
I guess I just needed to vent a bit this morning and that too is part of our healing. I truly feel we all could become good friends if we ever were able to meet- perhaps an annual “sociopath survivors convention” – destination TBD 😊 Thanks everyone for listening to me ramble this morning….it helps ❤️
February 21, 2021 at 11:24 pm #65297
Thank you Funluv. Yes it is all so unfair.
Yes these sociopaths are just everywhere and it is very important to learn the signs so we can protect ourselves.
Just read an article today on CNN saying that online romance scans were up tremendously last year. Because people were lonely during the pandemic lockdowns and scammers took full advantage of that by building trust and connection and then asking for money.
And the victims would send the money because they were kindhearted people who fell in love and who felt a genuine connection and genuinely believed they were helping out someone in need. Only to find out later they had been scammed.
The forum won’t let me post the link but if you google this title it should come up on the CNN website.
Scam artists lurking on dating apps and social media made away with a record haul in 2020
- This reply was modified 6 days, 22 hours ago by sept4. Reason: Tried to add CNN link
February 22, 2021 at 10:12 am #65300
sept4- It doesn’t surprise me the increase in scams during the pandemic. It is “open season” for con artists to seek out the vulnerable and isolated community relying on their compassion to provide them with what they want. It sickens me to think these cons are skilled at what they do and don’t care about anyone else except to manipulate for their own gains. It’s not surprising that we lose faith and are not quick to trust.
February 22, 2021 at 10:46 am #65301
Funluv yes it is sickening that con men use the wonderful quality of compassion against people. Romance and the need to be loved and compassion seems to be the biggest vulnerability that fraudsters target. So basically the more kind and loving and compassionate you are, the more you will be targeted by romance fraudsters.
February 23, 2021 at 11:34 am #65304ina91Participant
I had to put a restraining order in order to stop him contacting me. That in a sense, made me feel like I took my power back. I finally told him I will not allow you to continue manipulating me. Yet, I still feel he needs to be held accountable for my financial loss. I know he will never pay me, worst cause I cant prove it legally. Nevertheless, I have decided that as long as I don’t talk or see him again, I am willing to take the financial loss. I get emotionally worst when I hear or see him. Il take my mental peace over anything. I am just exhausted and tired. I think you need to focus on that. Your sanity is more important.
February 23, 2021 at 2:47 pm #65308
Sept4, Not from CNN, but a good article from the FBI (if you haven’t seen it) about steps to avoid & to spot online romance scams.
Sept4, I understand your desire for justice. Is it safe for you to be in contact with your ex?
My divorce atty told me in 2016 that financial awards by the family court judge were were near to impossible to amend. (We had no kids and I didn’t ask for support.) An appeals court would only hear cases if the attorney or county judge made a legal error. I did read recently a woman won an appeal for an increase in her financial award; it didn’t mention legal errors in the divorce case. The tide is changing.
At least you got away from him if you chose to let things stand. That began your healing and journey to a better life.
- This reply was modified 5 days, 7 hours ago by thesmiths.
February 23, 2021 at 3:09 pm #65311
Honestly, it’s enough to make me want to just crawl under a rock in order to avoid these con artists! I met my ex sociopath in person purely by coincidence. Although he lived in another city he had relatives in my city and was visiting my city for one of his cousin’s birthday celebration. We both were taking in a music event and he stopped me after the event. He flirted, we talked and I met his cousin who seemed to be perfectly normal. They walked me and my friend to my car and we exchanged numbers and agreed to meet in the next day or two before he would be heading back to his home state. We are only about 450 miles apart, so visiting each other was not a huge deal, although it was perfect for him if he was leading a double life. As we got to know each other by way of long phone conversations it took about a year before he actually asked me for money. My heart sank, yet I told him in no uncertain terms a man does not ask a woman for money. His response was “he sometimes poses questions just to see what my reaction would be and that tells him what I’m all about.” At the time I didn’t take his response to heart, but now it says so much about how he operates.
Where he did con me was my emotions and my heart. He projected a future that I bought into and am now trying to heal. Financial ruin is devastating, yet emotional ruin is equally painful.
February 23, 2021 at 5:05 pm #65313
It feels that way, I know. In my opinion, red flags can come right away or later in the relationship.
I had some right away (he pronounced he loved me & wanted to marry me a few weeks after we met) or they can come slow like yours.
The key may be taking a red flag and breaking things off right then regardless of the time and emotions invested in them. That red flag is a sign that a person is a sociopath.
I thought my late ex-h was a little weird for his pronouncements. I was lonely living in a new town & wanted friends. I thought no romance but platonic friend would be safe with him. I could control it since I had no romantic interest. It served another purpose. Another man who lived near me was harassing me for a date. He told me he was just released from prison for selling drugs. He was living in a halfway house near me. 🙁
My late ex-h was 6’2”. I needed someone to scare off this drug dealing jailbird. He saw me with late ex. I never saw drug dealing jailbird again.
I kept hanging around with late ex because he was so nice. He got me with his charm & persistence. We started dating 6 months later. Late ex-husband started to talk me into giving him money two years after we married.
In hindsight, I should have stopped seeing my ex-h immediately after the quick love & marriage talk. I should have quietly moved to another place to avoid that weird ex-con.
funluvmusic, sorry this happened to you. If you don’t know about these sociopaths, anyone can be conned! I know I won’t be so trusting any longer. Lesson learned.
PS. Another weird thing I saw early on was gay men staring at my ex-h on public transportation. (I live in a city with a sizable LGBTQ population.) He was nice looking but not the buff, extremely handsome gay men go for.
My first thought upon meeting my ex-h was – what does this gay man want with me?
The gay men staring at my late ex-h thought he was gay. That’s what he really was.
- This reply was modified 5 days, 4 hours ago by thesmiths.
February 23, 2021 at 7:02 pm #65316
thesmiths- I think these predators come in all different packages, yet they all can be very calculating when it comes to manipulation. My ex sociopath used to talk a lot about his late sister who was a nurse – he would say she was the only woman who truly understood him. Many times I talked to him about taking a break or stepping aside while he got his act together and he would protest saying our distance from each other was already a break. And so we’d continue on without ever resolving anything. The day I ended it was like an out of body experience. It was if I was possessed and could not delay another minute telling him I would not allow him to treat me this way any longer. I think someone on this site described it as the “snap” – that moment in time where every part of your being realizes enough is enough.
There were truly tender moments when my ex would patiently listen to my frustrations and logically tell me things were going to be all right. When my mom was near end of life he listened to me sob on the phone and quietly calmed me even calling later that night to check on me. These are the moments I get stuck in missing him. I know that was his way of further endearing himself to me, but at the time it was exactly what an needed. I try not to go down this lane and try to keep the chaos, lying, probable cheating, etc. uppermost in my brain so I don’t relapse in a moment of weakness. Had his fake projecting of our future ever materialized I think I would have seen everything up close and personal and that picture would not have been pretty. I’m sure he would have enjoyed spending all of my money saying “it was for us.” I guess I’m lucky the distance in miles and the court system kept us apart.
February 25, 2021 at 7:00 pm #65333
Ina yes I wish I had been strong enough to go to court and get a restraining order to stop the threats and harassment and intimidation.
At the time I just really couldn’t because I was still so trauma bonded and loyal to him and afraid of him. I really couldn’t gather the strength or courage.
Now looking back I wish I had because that would have helped my self esteem so much if I had stood up to him. Instead of letting everything just happen and letting him just take everything from me.
Now that opportunity is long gone and I’m stuck in the past ruminating about all the ways I could have stood up to him and said: NO.
February 25, 2021 at 9:34 pm #65336
funluvmusic, I had that snap moment with my ex. You’re right – it was like an out of body experience. All the pent-up anger comes to the surface and you find the strength to scream enough and push him away forever.
Sept4, restraining orders can have the opposite affect. I had one & it enraged him. I left my job and moved away out of fear he would harm me. I received an email from him saying his brother threatened to do away with him during this time. I knew my ex was using this as a veiled threat against me & avoid going to jail by directly breaking the restraining order. It was a blessing that he passed away. I feel that every single day in my heart.
If your ex is not as extreme as mine was, could you ask for support and stay safe? I don’t blame you for wanting what you deserve and should have had. I’d feel the same way.
Stay safe though. If it opens you up to stalking & harassment, don’t do it. Remember the “Gift of Fear” by Gavin de Becker. Words to the wise.
February 26, 2021 at 12:14 pm #65337
Yes, in the “snap” moment you feel so strong and so in control for a change, yet almost immediately I felt some regrets and sadness asking myself, “what have I done?”
After sitting with it for awhile I knew it was for the best and I was not about to go groveling back to my ex. That would have given him the upper hand which he would certainly relish and throw in my face.
In my moments of sadness I realize I am grieving what I thought it could be. That was the delusional, fake fairy tale he created and I bought into. Had he moved to my state and moved into my home it would have been a living hell and another short lived relationship – the kind that he was known for. I would just be another fatality like all the others in his past. I have to remind myself that past behavior is a good predictor of future behavior. I was not the “special” one that could turn him into a decent human being. I was just one of many. Thankfully, the distance in miles and the court system kept us apart……I need to keep that in my thoughts when my emotions try to win over my logic.
I agree thesmiths……time heals all wounds and time wounds all heels…….Perfect!
February 26, 2021 at 5:59 pm #65338
funluvmusic, Am glad you left and are staying away. It wasn’t hard for me to stay away because of the financial, physical & emotional abuse. It’s been hard to grasp that his intermittent nice behavior was only to keep the free money flowing to him. No love for me at all.
That’s taken me the longest time to accept & heal from, tbh. How could I not tell? Am not a dumb or gullible person. How can I tell the next time? Will I overreact & think something that’s quite normal is a red flag? I am still learning how to trust my impressions & instincts. It’s a tall order.
Yes, it is so important to keep our reality check on. That’s painful for me due to the loneliness. COVID shelter in place for almost a year hasn’t helped. I’ve been tempted to throw caution to the wind. It is staying on. My marriage & divorce were the worst things to have ever happened to me. These people are something else. Just terrible. I felt like my insides were burned. It feels painful still some days. It’s decreased a lot, but still hurts. Today is one of those days it seems.
Thanks for letting me vent. I wouldn’t want to wish this experience on anyone. Am glad we have a safe place to do this and have great people posting.
February 26, 2021 at 8:22 pm #65341
Smiths thank you and yes my ex was very extreme also. He was a felon and involved in the drugs world. He was involved with very shady people. He had his “friends” pressure me and relay threats to me.
And also a veiled threat exactly like you said, his friends told me that he was plotting some revenge against some shady guy who took money from him. So in an indirect way warning me also to not stand in between him and “his” money.
This is all many years ago and everything is final in court so I can’t turn that back. But mentally I have not found peace in that I did not stand up to him. Even though I had very good reasons not to: fear and trauma bond.
February 26, 2021 at 9:08 pm #65343
the smiths- Yes, this is a very safe environment allowing us to express our feelings and vent when we need to release some of our pent up emotions. I’m very grateful we have landed in this space.
I think we all are left with a void feeling empty and sometimes lonely – it’s natural. I also feel that was, in part, the vulnerability that our ex sociopaths preyed on.
I often try to compare my empty feelings post-sociopath to how much more empty and lonely I would feel staying with someone who blatantly and intentionally took pleasure in making my life a living hell. That life might have a living and breathing body next to me, however I’m guessing the void and loneliness would be a day to day routine that would literally drive me to an early death. That said, I can live through this with my integrity in tact and end up with a much richer life without the sociopath and all his excess baggage.
I do think going forward we all will be better at picking up on red flags, asking more questions and making an early exit if something smells foul. We will instinctively listen to our gut. If there is a silver lining I feel I now know how important an emotional connection is for me in any relationship going forward. In the past I may have dated someone who was good looking, but could not make an emotional connection if their life depended on it. There were others who were very bright and intelligent, yet could not connect with their emotions instead using humor to deflect anything they thought was too serious. My ex sociopath displayed, or should I say pretended to display vulnerability. Even though I now know it was fake, it was something I connected with and I now know that I need that vulnerability in a relationship.
I guess you could say I can now look at it with a “glass half full” outlook. Funny how when life throws us lemons there still might be lemonade to be enjoyed somewhere down the line.
February 27, 2021 at 12:19 pm #65346
Your life is what’s important. Getting away is standing up for yourself. The alternative is dangerous. Stay far, far away from them.
It sounds like you’re in an early part of the stages of grief of that piece of your former relationship. There’s lots of avenues for healing – psychotherapy, meditation, yoga, training for a new career, volunteer work for you to take on
I tend to like reading plays and novels for insight into the human condition and healing. There’s one Pulitzer Prize winning play I think about a lot called “Joe Turner’s Come And Gone” by August Wilson. I don’t want to spoil the story. I will say it’s about a former slave from the South who goes North looking for work. He can’t seem to shake the ghost of his former slave master, Joe Turner, to feel free. He still feels like a slave though Joe Turner passed away and slavery’s illegal.
I hope you feel better. Healing takes time. Be kind to yourself.
- This reply was modified 1 day, 9 hours ago by thesmiths.
February 27, 2021 at 3:21 pm #65350
Thank you Smiths. Yes maybe it was for the best that I did not fight back.
There are some strange moments toward the end of the marriage that I really did not think anything of at the time but now looking back I have an uneasy feeling.
1) we visited Arizona and the Grand Canyon in final the months of our marriage. And there were a couple of moments where we were alone close to cliffs and I had an weird intuition about a strange feeling of danger or something weird in his eyes or his body language. Just a split second and I forgot about it almost immediately. But the intuition was there. I just ignored it and forgot about it.
2) also in the final months of our marriage, we went jet skiing in a remote area of a bay and I begged him not to throw me off but he did intentionally throw me off. I was alone floating in the water. He took just a split second too long before turning back to come get me. The moment was so quick that I ignored it and forgot about it. But the intuition was there that it took him just a bit too long.
3) I had a $2 million dollar life insurance policy with him as the sole beneficiary. I almost can’t imagine this but what if it did cross this mind? That an accident could happen and he would get $2 million and would not have to get divorced? And instead of dealing with divorce he would get sympathy from everyone as the grieving widower.
Terrifying things to consider and maybe I am just imagining all this. I don’t know if those moments of a weird intuition feeling were real.
February 27, 2021 at 4:15 pm #65351
sept4- Reading some of these split second intuitive moments you experienced gave me the chills. If you felt anything strange even for a split second I would say it was your gut telling you something was not quite right. If there was anything he could gain such as your life insurance policy, I’m sure it was something your ex entertained. Who knows, he was possibly looking for the perfect scenario that would have him looking like the grieving widower with a two million dollar pay-off to boot.
You’ve come away with some great insight and fully need to appreciate that any time you doubt yourself for not standing up to him. In your own way you did stand up to him coming out of it all as a strong survivor. Listen to your intuition……it will not betray you.
February 28, 2021 at 8:09 pm #65359
Funluvmusic, yes, how true. I never thought about it that way. It’s empowering.
I had one over 10 years ago. There was a locally famous case where a young pregnant woman went missing. Long story short, her psychopathic husband did her in. His mistress helped provide evidence. He was convicted & is on death row still.
We were driving near the place where this poor woman’s body was discovered. I told my ex —this is the “Joe Murderer” memorial bridge. Can you believe this happened here?
My ex h gave me a look like what he did was not such a bad idea. We had bought a house together (mostly with my money) & it had appreciated a good amount. He would stand to gain a lot of money with me out of the picture. I could be wrong, but the look on his face was very strange.
Our intuition is the best tool we have for sure!
- This reply was modified 2 hours, 2 minutes ago by thesmiths.
February 28, 2021 at 8:23 pm #65362
Thank you Funluv. And Smiths that is so scary.
Intuition is sometimes just a very small and quiet voice and can be easily ignored.
My ex used to love true crime shows and animal documentaries about predators in the wild. He would watch those for HOURS every night. Never really thought anything of it until later. Now I realize he was actually studying their techniques.
I keep thinking about the Fotis Dulos case. A goodlooking successful wealthy businessman in Connecticut with a beautiful wife and 5 kids. He ended up killing her after she filed for divorce. She had told the judge in her filing that she was afraid of him. But nobody took that seriously. And now she is dead.
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