How to recover from the ruin of a sociopath

Editor’s note: The following article refers to spiritual concepts. Please read Lovefraud’s statement on Spiritual Recovery.

Last week, I posted correspondence from Arlene, who, after 23 years of marriage, was discarded by her husband and has lost her connections to her children. Arlene said she was so devastated that she just wanted her life to end.

Several Lovefraud readers posted comments of understanding and encouragement for Arlene. Another reader sent an e-mail, describing the steps she took to recover after she had been similarly dumped by her husband. I thought her suggestions were so helpful that I asked permission to post the e-mail, which she graciously granted.

Advice from a reader

Here it is:

Arlene…. I was where you are when I was 40. My husband who I loved and adored and truly admired, left me without warning after 12 years of marriage for another woman. All I had ever heard from anyone was what a wonderful wife I was, what a great mother I was (not only to our children, but to his two daughters). I was devastated, depressed, anxious, scared, fearful of anything and everything, and could barely function. I will not recite all the cruel things he did and said (but he did tell me “you will just have to get over it,” which is still unbelievable to me), but I will share with you how I got well.

FIRST, I went to counseling and made sure the therapist knew about the pathology involved with being a spouse of one of these evil creatures. Even when it seemed to do little good, I kept going and going and eventually, it did help. I sought the help of my doctor, took antidepressants for six months and stayed on Xanax for about a year for the anxiety. The medications were a bridge to emotional healing and stability.

Next, I volunteered wherever and whenever I was needed. I know that may sound impossible to do (and believe me I did NOT want to do it), but the more I volunteered, the more I forgot about my own issues and I slowly developed a grateful heart for what I DID still have. I worked at church, in my neighborhood, as a pro bono attorney, at my children’s schools and a domestic abuse hotline. I still now do all that volunteer work and would not stop for anything.

I counseled with my priest. I was taught how to forgive (and yes, it is a VERY long process and I am still working on it) and finally understood that in forgiving HIM, I was healing ME. I prayed and prayed and prayed. I asked God to bring me peace and to let me know how much he loved me and he did.

Let me also say…. I did some stupid things early on…I drank too much alcohol (I was self medicating and was depressed and did not KNOW I was depressed as I never had been before). I dated too early as I was so lonely, I DENIED that I was hurt and I did not let myself “feel.” When I did finally “feel,” I wanted to die too. I asked God at night to just not let me wake in the morning. He had other things in store for me. Beautiful things.

I promise you, there is going to be a wonderful life for you after the devastation this man caused. You are NOT the problem, he WAS. WAS is the key word here. Take a class, get a job doing ANYTHING if you don’t work already…. do yoga (that helped me too!) and stay active. Look in the mirror and tell yourself you LOVE YOU, you are perfect the way you are (and you are, I assure you) and that you ARE LOVED and that you are worthy of love.

I survived and you will too. My very best, stay sweet, stay loving and start with little steps towards the best life you are going to ever have experienced!

What works for you?

We all have our own paths towards healing. Mine involved a good therapist and allowing myself to feel the pain. By feeling it, I was eventually free of it. I was also in contact with at least one of the other women that my ex-husband scammed, and eventually more of them. It was helpful to know that I was not alone.

Have you recovered from a run-in with a sociopath? Or are you on the road to recovery? Please post a comment describing what helps your healing.

Those of us who have been there are the “wounded healers.” Our experience can aid those who are just beginning the recovery process.

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33 Comments on "How to recover from the ruin of a sociopath"

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My relationship with my ex ended over 2 years ago. We share a son together my son is just over 2 years old now. Although he moved on and has had another baby I have actually heard hes had two babies since the birth of our son. My path to healing has been a long battle. It/he has not stopped. Ive been so determined to not let him beat me but im so tired. I have realised I dont have many true friends maybe not any Ive been forced to question this unfortunately. I feel like Im battling this alone.There has been so much betrayal over the past two years for me. Im broken.Ive almost run out,of answers when does it end?

Hi Sam
Sorry for all your pain. It does seem never-ending, sometimes. And, it seems like all our strength is gone; and, we are at wit’s end corner.

Friends can be helpful; and, when we have them it is wonderful. But, too often, especially in the aftermath of an encounter with a spath, we find ourselves isolated and alone in a scary world. It seems abnormal to us and adds to our feelings of worthlessness.

But, times of solitariness can be good. We can regroup and discover who we really are and what our true values are. Involvement with a spath tends to de-rail our sense of who we are. We need to find that again. Or if we never really knew, then it is a great time to start the journey.

There is no devastation like betrayal. It is soul crippling. We question everything. What was real? How could this happen? etc. etc. We are tormented with the what-ifs and the would’ve, could’ve, should’ves.

The tunnel to recovery can seem so very dark and endless. But, there is an end. It is a process. It is a learning period in our lives. We can come out so much stronger and wiser, if we choose to.

I am believing that you are stronger than you imagine. Hold onto hope.


Appearances can be perplexing. We tend to judge God by what we would do, how we would do it and when we would do it. We want it all fixed yesterday. But, for God one day is like a thousand years and a thousand years is like a day. He sees things from an eternal perspective. We view things from the here and now.

I can’t really explain why someone like Hugh Hefner, who has been the instrument of such evil toward women, seems to have continued and prospered. It seems so wrong; and, it sure isn’t the way God designed it to be. So what’s up?

It just isn’t over yet.

God gives us a free will. He does not interfere with that. Many people choose to not choose to do right. They make selfish decisions which hurt others. No one gets a pass. Good people get hurt.

But, all our choices matter. Thoughts become actions, actions become habits, habits become character and character becomes destiny. We forge who we become one choice at a time. We create our destiny by each choice.

God will help us make right decisions which lead to a good life, if we ask Him. He does not begrudge us wisdom. We get in trouble when we don’t seek Him and make our own decisions independent of His wisdom.

These character-disordered ones have been making bad decisions for a long, long time. Sometimes surreptitiously by a double life, sometimes blatantly out in the open.

God allows evil in the world. He allowed the fall of mankind. He could have prevented it. He did not. But, He made a provision for us to be redeemed and delivered from our fallen nature. That is the goodness of God. He didn’t just say, “That’s it!!! I am so done with you! Poof and you’re gone!!” He could have. We would have.

The thing is that when we focus on the evil in the world, it brings us down to its level. It saps us of our strength. It de-rails us and weakens us so that then we despair. In our grief and desperation, we tend to throw in the towel and give up. And, that is just where Satan wants us. So he can come in and take over.

You mentioned weakness earlier. Satan is like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. He separates the weaker, younger ones from the flock and preys on them. That is why we have to stay close to the Shepherd. We are not strong enough in ourselves to fight off the enemy.

I have also grieved greatly at why God does not immediately zap my xnph. The man is in open defiance to God, hurting people with his selfishness. Why not just snuff him out?! It would be better for everyone (IMHO). Why not strip him of his power, charisma, stuff, etc.?!!

Truth is that my xnph is eroding, imploding. It is slow but certain. When I look at the trajectory of his life and what has happened (which he thinks is good), it is sad and frightening. His bad choices are causing destruction in his life. But, he cannot see it. God has left him and now he is fully out there without God’s protection. He is in a very bad position. When we have made God our enemy, we really don’t have much hope. Well, none.

Satan is the god of this world. He gives stuff and power to people who will serve him. But, he is a cruel task master. He treats worse those who serve him best. He sets people up in this world only to destroy them. That is what he does. Anyone in his clutches is in a very bad place, no matter how it looks.

Appearances can be so deceiving. We think so-and-so has all this money, good-looking women, all these toys of this life — so he must be blessed. Maybe we are judging by the wrong standard. God does not call that man blessed. The truth is that if he is serving Satan, then he is cursed. When a person is cursed (without God’s blessing), then he or she is just one breath away from destruction. It is a slippery slope and an unsure one.

I have gotten a lot of comfort and understanding by reading the Psalms. There is a lot in there about the wicked. King David who penned many of them struggled with the dilemma of evil. Many psalms cry out to God against the wicked. Psalm 109 and 69 come to mind.

I think some of our greatest pain about this is that we want God to take care of it right away and that He must not see or care. That is just not the case. He is long-suffering so that all will come to repentance and none will perish. But, there is an end to His patience. And, He is angry with the wicked every day. Jenna, He will repay. He is a just God and hates wicked way more than we do.

Hold onto good and let God handle the spath in His way, in His time. God is in in control, sovereign and knows what He is doing.

OK, so he has all that “great stuff & women” because he pretends to be a great guy. Sounds like sinking sand to me. That is a “house of cards” and can be blown away in a nano-second. Give it time.

Yes, he stole your joy. That is what they do. But, really you relinquished it to him. You can take it back. Don’t let him have the satisfaction of making you miserable. Even if you feel devastated and miserable, put on a good face. Don’t let him see, hear or know how you feel. Pretend, too. Pretend not to care. He certainly doesn’t deserve your care or consideration.

It feels like he made a fool of you. They want to humiliate us. Sick creatures that they are, they feel bigger when they trample on others. How sick and demented is that???!!! Remember, “when a man is cruel he is unkind to his own soul.”

Right now — because you are too close to it — it seems like he is getting away with it, etc. But, if you look at this from the 90,000 foot view, you would see a man shriveling up his soul, destroying his own life and pouring acid on his future opportunities. He is shooting himself in the proverbial foot.

I know you want to see justice done and you would like it NOW. Please just trust God to take care of him. “Vengeance is Mine says the Lord, I will repay.” God can get him back a gazillion times better than we could ever imagine and save us the trouble of going to jail.

It is best for us to take the high road. Let them take the low road if they choose to be stupid. They are only sowing a very bad crop which will come in, for a certainty.

We cannot expect or hope that they will feel or be affected by their evil deeds. Remember, these spaths have NO REMORSE, NO CONSCIENCE. To hope for them to be apologetic, is a effort in futility. But, we don’t have to stoop to their level of inhumanity.

God is a righteous God and a just God. You can bank on the fact that your hateful, cruel x-spath will be brought to justice. It is certain. It is coming. He will feel all the pain which he has inflicted on others and he will be horribly ashamed and it will be too late.

So, Jenna don’t grieve yourself about what a mean fool he is and has been to you. You can move on from this and things will be so much better for you. “I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans not for foe or disaster, but for a future full of hope.”

Exactly. You have given him enough already, period. And, the best ways of “revenge” are: 1) living well and 2) TOTAL INDIFFERENCE to him as if he NEVER EXISTED.

Consider him DEAD to you. There is nothing that bothers them more than us getting over them and feeling total apathy to them. It starves them. 🙂


Are you defending him? That is Stockholm Syndrome.

He is what he is revealing himself to be. Psychopaths don’t become adulterers, perverts, and/or murderers over night. “Imposters and evil men will go from bad to WORSE.” It is their nature.

Misogyny is a state of mind and heart. Maybe his early abandonment issues (the way he viewed things, instead of being grateful)…maybe that is the basis for his hatred of women. WHATEVER it is — it is not normal. He cannot possibly love ANY woman in a normal way for herself. In fact, the better or nicer or kinder or sweeter she is, the more he will despise her. Doesn’t that fit? Haven’t you seen that?

Perhaps in his marriage — when his wife would “upset” him in some way — he vented on other women because he could not do to her what he felt. My x-spath had TONS of rage toward me in our marriage which was not revealed until the divorce process (not that there wasn’t an vicious undercurrent).

Your x-spath’s CONTEMPTUOUS behavior toward you reveals a maliciousness toward women which is very, very dangerous. No woman is safe around him.

I am trying to give you a handle for disengaging from him. I am trying to help you get past personalizing his behavior toward you. When we feel like something was wrong with us because of the way they treated us, we continue the abuse they started by proxy. We do the abuse. They no longer have to do anything. Why should we help them be cruel?

Seeing them for who they are and what they are capable of helps us regain our sense of self-worth which they have trampled upon. Does that make sense?

Thankyou so much you. I read both of your last two comments and I think you give wonderful advice.

Yes I believe I do have the strength thankyou for having faith in me.I guess I feel as if the people I have held closest to my heart have failed me. A man they barely know they seem to believe his lies over me someone they have known for years.or there are the people who know truth about him but are too scared to say anything. I understand how the spath works and how easy it is to fall under their spell. So with that I can find forgiveness. But its still heartbreaking to realise my ‘friends’ even start to question me or doubt me and No one has actually stood up to defend me. People that I have been there for through there hardships dont seem to be around in mine. Its not that I fear being alone because I its just the realisation that not only has a man I was once loved so dearly has betrayed so has some of my dearest friends.

I have two beautiful children and although some days I dont want to face the world anymore I still get up and face the reality of my life and I try to just focus on my kids.

Thanks again
God bless

Hi Sam
You are very kind; and, I really appreciate what you said. Thank you.

It is hard when someone who said they loved us and who we did love — it is very hard when they have not been faithful and have been not committed. Betrayal is the worst cut.

Man is fickle. And, we know that spaths are only in it for themselves. They are the definition of selfishness and unfaithfulness.

In bitter hindsight, we realize that they were not man enough to be a man. They deceived us about who they were and what they could truly offer. We believed them. That is not evil to trust someone. The evil is on them for not being genuine and honest. For pretending.

It is really disappointing too when people who we thought were our friends, who we thought knew us and loved us for ourselves, turn their backs on us and walk away, when they listen to lies about us and don’t remember who we have been.

Actually, it says way more about them, then anything. And, even though it hurts, we need to acknowledge what we are seeing. It speaks to a lack of character on their part.

We want real friends, true friends, faithful friends. Good friends are actually few and far between. Most are just convenience friends or slightly more than acquaintances. Circumstances tend to reveal who and what they are. And, when they aren’t there for us anymore, it is best to let them go. Otherwise we are compromising ourselves.

We have to stay true to ourselves at all costs. I think that is why we get in so deep in bad relationships because we let our boundaries be crossed, until we have few or none. When that happens, who are we?

People-pleasing to keep relationships undermines who we are. If people stay with the spath for people-pleasing, then that is a serious compromise. Eventually, they will come to regret it. The same goes for friendships. To thine own self be true.

Why didn’t your friends come and ask you about things and find out the truth? Why not give you the benefit of the doubt? You would have done so much for them. It is nothing more, nothing less than selfishness and shallowness on their part.

We have to hang onto what we have that is good and let the rest go. You have two beautiful children and that gives you a very good and noble purpose to be the best you can be and to be there for them. Loving them will enlarge your heart and give your peace.

Be your own best friend. You know you. Love yourself, if no one else recognizes your worth. Believe in yourself and don’t judge yourself or your worth by the here-today, gone-tomorrow fickleness of mankind. They are poor judges for sure.

I don’t know if you are a believer, but God loves you with an everlasting love. His love is perfect and unconditional. And, He is on your side. He promises never to leave us or forsake us. He is the definition of love and faithfulness. He is closer than a brother, too. We never have to feel lonely.

God bless you and Hugs…


Your words are very powerful and have touched me deeply. I appreciate you taking the time to reply.Yes I most definately am a believer.Thankyou so very much.

Hugs to you also. 🙂

Yes Donna

Thankyou I know this site has Saved me many ways!



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